Recent ORAU annual meeting highlighted compliance complexity in higher education

Federal regulations require diligence from academic institutions Colleges and universities face many complex issues as they navigate the growing number of federal regulations. Institutions of higher education spend considerable financial resources to stay in compliance. Speakers at the 72nd annual meeting of the ORAU Council of Sponsoring Institutions clarified select regulations and presented practical solutions for overcoming hurdles. The recent two-day meeting hosted by ORAU at Pollard Technology Conference Center involved nearly 150 attendees, and speakers addressed regulatory reform to compliance processes. Keynote speaker Brett Sweet, vice chancellor for finance and chief financial officer of Vanderbilt University, observed the substantial increase in the magnitude of federal regulations since the 1950s and noted the administrative and enforcement expenses tied to these regulations. “While some regulation is valuable, compliance and reporting add a material cost burden to post-secondary education. This is especially true for research institutions,” Sweet said. [Read more…]

Haslam visits ORNL to highlight state’s role in discovering tennessine

Bill Haslam at ORNL Tennessine Martin McDonald Thom Mason ORHS Students

Principal Martin McDonald, left, and students from Oak Ridge High School accepted the first new chart of the periodic table featuring element tennessine and signed by Governor Bill Haslam, right, and ORNL Director Thom Mason, second from left. To mark the discovery of tennessine, UT-Battelle is donating a new chart to all public middle and high schools in Tennessee. (Photo courtesy ORNL)


Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam visited the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory on Friday to congratulate the ORNL team involved in the discovery of the element tennessine, named in recognition of the vital contributions of the state of Tennessee to the international search for new superheavy elements.

UT-Battelle, the managing contractor of ORNL, is marking the discovery by providing more than 1,000 public middle schools and high schools in Tennessee with new charts of the periodic table. Tennessine—the official name for element 117—completes the seventh row of the table and the column of elements classified as halogens.

The charts will include the signatures of Haslam and ORNL Director Thom Mason.

“We had two very significant announcements in Tennessee this fall as it relates to science,” Haslam said. “In October, the Nation’s Report Card announced that Tennessee students are the fastest improving in the nation in science, and in November, Tennessee became only the second state to be recognized in the periodic table of elements. Having an element named in our honor is further evidence of the scientific excellence that exists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the University of Tennessee, Vanderbilt University, and other institutions throughout our state, and by UT-Battelle donating new periodic tables to every middle and high school in Tennessee, students can feel proud of our state’s important role in the scientific community and inspired to play a role in its future.” [Read more…]

Name of new element, tennessine, recognizes state’s contributions, including at ORNL


The recently discovered element 117 has been officially named “tennessine” in recognition of Tennessee’s contributions to its discovery, including the efforts of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory and its Tennessee collaborators at Vanderbilt University and the University of Tennessee.

“The presence of tennessine on the Periodic Table is an affirmation of our state’s standing in the international scientific community, including the facilities ORNL provides to that community as well as the knowledge and expertise of the laboratory’s scientists and technicians,” ORNL Director Thom Mason said in a press release.

The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, or IUPAC, gave its final approval to the name “tennessine” following a year-long process that began December 30, 2015, when IUPAC and the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics announced verification of the existence of the superheavy element 117. That was more than five years after scientists first reported its discovery in April 2010.

IUPAC validates the existence of newly discovered elements and approves their official names.

ORNL had several roles in the discovery, the most prominent being production of the radioisotope berkelium-249 for the search. [Read more…]

Video: Tennessine the proposed name for new element in honor of Tennessee

Tennessine has been announced as a provisional name for superheavy element 117, one of four new superheavy elements. The proposed name honors the contributions of three Tennessee institutions: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, University of Tennessee, and Vanderbilt University.

See a short ORNL video about the announcement and discovery below.

See earlier stories here and here.

Tennessee gets a place at the table with newest element: Tennessine

Robert Grzywacz

Robert Grzywacz

One of the newest members of the periodic table will likely have a familiar sound to it, even if the spelling might be a bit off: Tennessine.

Proposed as a nod to researchers from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Vanderbilt University, and the University of Tennessee, who helped confirm its existence, element 117 would be only the second to be named for a state. Since the name Tennessee has its origins in the name of the Cherokee village of Tanasi, it also becomes the first element with Native American roots.

The International Union for Pure and Applied Chemistry formally verified the discovery and has now put forth the name Tennessine—pronounced to rhyme with green—for public comment.

Robert Grzywacz, director of the UT-ORNL Joint Institute for Nuclear Physics and Applications and a physics professor at UT, served as UT’s connection to the project. Grzywacz helped develop a process that measures the decay of nuclear materials down to one millionth of a second, which was vital in proving the existence of the new element. [Read more…]

Recognizing Tennessee’s contribution, Tennessine could be name of new chemical element

ORNL Berkelium-249

Berkelium-249, contained in the greenish fluid in the tip of the vial, was crucial to the experiment that discovered element 117. It was made in the research reactor at DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory. (Photo by ORNL)


Note: This post was last updated at 11:45 a.m.

Tennessine is among the names proposed for four new elements. If approved, the name would recognize the contributions of Tennessee research centers—Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Vanderbilt University, and the University of Tennessee—in the discovery of one of four new superheavy elements: 113, 115, 117, and 118.

Tennessine (Ts) is proposed for element 117.

The discovery of the four new elements was announced in January, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory played a role in discovering two of them. The elements have been added to the periodic table, filling the seventh row, or period.

Twenty-two milligrams of a very pure synthetic material produced at ORNL were used in the discovery of two of the new chemical elements. [Read more…]

ORNL supports new projects to develop advanced nuclear technologies

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory will support two new DOE-funded projects to explore, develop, and demonstrate advanced nuclear reactor technologies.

The projects announced January 15 will allow industry-led teams with participants from universities and national laboratories to further nuclear energy technology, and will enable companies to further develop their advanced reactor designs with potential for demonstration in the mid-2030s. Initially, DOE’s investment will be $6 million for each project and both companies will provide cost-share. The possible multi-year cost-share value for this research is up to $80 million.

A project led by Southern Company Services, a subsidiary of Southern Company, focuses on molten chloride fast reactors, or MCFRs. The effort includes ORNL, TerraPower, the Electric Power Research Institute, and Vanderbilt University. [Read more…]

Synthetic material from ORNL used in discovery of new elements 115, 117

ORNL Berkelium-249

Berkelium-249, contained in the greenish fluid in the tip of the vial, was crucial to the experiment that discovered element 117. It was made in the research reactor at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory. (Photo by ORNL)


Twenty-two milligrams of a very pure synthetic material produced at Oak Ridge National Laboratory were used in the discovery of two new chemical elements that will help fill out the seventh row of the periodic table.

The synthetic element, berkelium-249, was produced in a project that started with a six-month irradiation of a target material at the High Flux Isotope Reactor at ORNL. The resulting product was separated and processed during a three-month period at the lab’s Radiochemical Engineering Development Center.

The berkelium-249 was then shipped to the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research, or JINR, in Dubna, Russia, where it was intensely bombarded, or irradiated, with calcium-48 ions, creating six atoms of element 117, said Jim Roberto, ORNL associate lab director for science and technology partnerships. Berkelium-249, which does not exist in nature, has a 300-day lifetime, so researchers had a short time to do their experiments.

Element 117 is one of four new elements that have been officially verified by the International Union for Pure and Applied Chemistry. The IUPAC announced the discoveries on December 30. The other three are elements 113, 115, and 118. Element 115 is produced when element 117 decays. [Read more…]