March 23, 2010
KNOXVILLE -- The U.S. Department of Energy has extended the contract for the University of Tennessee and Battelle Memorial Institute to co-manage Oak Ridge National Laboratory for another five years.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu was joined by Gov. Phil Bredesen, UT Interim President Jan Simek and Battelle President Jeff Wadsworth in announcing the new contract on Tuesday.
UT-Battelle, a joint venture between the two institutions, first won the management contract for the lab on April 1, 2000. The contract was renewed in April 2005.
"I'm extremely pleased by Secretary Chu's announcement today," Bredesen said. "The success of the partnership between UT and Battelle has brought our state world-class expertise in research, high-performance computing, nanotechnology and other areas of science. This announcement ensures Tennessee will be well-positioned to continue to attract research investments and other economic benefits generated by Oak Ridge National Laboratory."
"As a co-manager with Battelle and as the lab's largest research partner, the University of Tennessee has had a profound impact on ORNL over the last 10 years, helping transform it into DOE's most modern and fastest growing national lab," said Simek, who also serves as chairman of the UT-Battelle board.
"The UT-Oak Ridge partnership benefits not only the University and the lab but also the regional economy by attracting and creating new jobs," he said.
DOE has consistently given top grades for UT-Battelle’s management of the lab. ORNL was the only DOE lab to receive marks of "A" in all eight evaluation categories for the 2009 annual report card.
ORNL Director Thom Mason said, "The University of Tennessee and Battelle together make up one of the most successful partnerships in the national laboratory system. Both UT and Battelle, along with the state of Tennessee, contributed in unique ways to the accomplishments that marked our first ten years at ORNL."
Battelle is the world's largest, independent scientific research and technology development organization. It manages seven national laboratories for the Department of Energy and the Department of Homeland Security.
"Battelle is proud of the strong and unique partnership it has enjoyed with the University of Tennessee in managing this great asset -– the Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy," Wadsworth said. "We look forward to continuing to work collaboratively to ensure that the Oak Ridge National Laboratory extends the boundaries of scientific and technological progress in the years ahead."
Under UT-Battelle management, the lab has grown from 3,700 to 4,700 employees. Research funding has increased from $640 million to $1.6 billion. In 2009, UT-Battelle received American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding worth more than $338 million that has enabled construction of a new chemical material sciences building and upgrades to the Jaguar supercomputer.
Physically, ORNL has vastly changed in appearance from a site that included Quonset huts and chain link fences to state-of-the-art research buildings in a campus-style setting. With support from DOE and the state of Tennessee, ORNL has been transformed into one of the most modern labs in the DOE system.
ORNL's modernization included a major upgrade in science and technology facilities. The most prominent is the $1.4 billion Spallation Neutron Source, the world's most powerful pulsed neutron accelerator used in the study the structure of materials at the molecular level.
During UT-Battelle's tenure, Oak Ridge has become the world's leading center for high-performance computing. ORNL's Jaguar supercomputer is the world's most powerful. UT's Kraken supercomputer, housed at ORNL, is the world's fastest academic computer and third-fastest overall.
Under UT-Battelle, the lab also has become a national leader in climate and bioenergy. A collaboration among ORNL, UT and the state has combined breakthrough research in cellulosic ethanol with a new state-funded biorefinery in Vonore, Tenn., built through a partnership with DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol.
UT's relationship with the lab dates to the 1940s, when Oak Ridge was part of the Manhattan Project. In the following years, the UT-ORNL partnership continued and expanded.
The University's partnership with ORNL today includes approximately 60 faculty members with joint appointments and more than 100 students working at the lab.
Joint research endeavors reached more than $90 million in 2009. The University and ORNL have five joint institutes, and eight distinguished scientists have been appointed as UT-ORNL Governor's Chairs.
UT-Battelle contributed more than $2 million toward an effort to rebuild Oak Ridge High School, believing a modern high school is vital in attracting more young scientists to the lab.
Officials at the lab and the University anticipate that the UT-Oak Ridge partnership will continue to grow during the new contract. In January, the legislature approved a new graduate degree program in energy sciences at UT Knoxville in conjunction with ORNL.
The new program is designed to increase the number of doctoral students in science, technology, engineering and math, and will add about 200 Oak Ridge researchers to the UT Knoxville faculty.