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November 09, 2020 | Tom Ballard

You can now tour many ORNL facilities from the comfort of your home or office

Have you ever wanted to visit some of the facilities at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)? Well, if you don’t have someone who can host you, the lab has created an easy way to tour 10 of its major facilities and landmarks virtually including the historic Graphite Reactor.

In an announcement yesterday, ORNL said it had launched the first 10 virtual tours that allow individuals to tour some of the facilities housing world-leading research without leaving their home or office. Each has multiple views to show floor plans, rotating dollhouse views and 360-degree navigation. As a user travels through a map, pop-out informational windows deliver facts, videos, graphics and links to other related content.

Here are the 10 in the inaugural group:

  • Building Technologies Research and Integration Center: Browse a variety of research stations in this U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy user facility including an ultrasonic dryer, transactive controls and sensors, and 3D printed precast concrete molds. Go inside machinery used to test the performance of commercial and residential equipment, and a large-scale climate simulator.
  • Carbon Fiber Technology Facility: Stroll the carbon fiber processing line to see how low-cost raw materials from textile, lignin, polymer and hydrocarbon-based precursors are processed and identified at this DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy user facility.
  • Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences: Explore a range of lab spaces and equipment used in nanoscience research, including instrumentation used in nanomaterials synthesis, nanofabrication, microscopy, and modeling and simulation at this DOE Office of Science user facility.
  • Graphite Reactor: Step back in time to the birthplace of ORNL with a tour of the Graphite Reactor, which went critical in 1943, producing the first microgram quantities of plutonium.
  • High-Performance Computing: Walk from the operations control room to the energy plant to the data center through more than 15,000 square feet in the building that houses Summit.
  • Manufacturing Demonstration Facility: Inside this DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy user facility, see machine tooling in action and the large-scale additive manufacturing system that made the 3D-printed Shelby Cobra. Learn how researchers are advancing real time characterization to produce perfect parts and view MedUSA, a hybrid manufacturing machine.
  • National Transportation Research Center: At this DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy user facility, learn how wireless charging technology and sophisticated power electronics are developed and evaluated. See a variety of engines used in research to evaluate new fuels, reduce emissions, and maximize fuel efficiency, as well as research platforms for advancing connected and automated vehicle technologies.
  • New Bethel Baptist Church: Tour the interpretive center and museum highlighting the Scarborough community, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The building served as a planning office for construction of the Graphite Reactor.
  • Spallation Neutron Source:Explore three floors of this DOE Office of Science user facility filled with state-of-the-art instruments dedicated to neutron scattering experiments. The accelerator-based system delivers proton pulses to a steel target filled with liquid mercury through a process called spallation. Those neutrons are then directed toward instruments that provide a variety of capabilities to researchers across a broad range of disciplines including physics, chemistry, biology, and materials science.
  • Ultra-Trace Forensic Science Center:Roam the 36,000-square-foot facility dedicated to ultra-trace measurement. The center houses high-precision chemical and isotope mass spectrometry instruments and more than 7,400 square feet of cleanroom space.

Additional virtual tours will be added in coming months.

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