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R&D Associate - Energy Systems Development Engineer

Date: Jun 8, 2022

Location: Oak Ridge, TN, US, 37830

Company: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Requisition Id 8410 



The Energy Systems Development (ESD) Group within the Nuclear Energy and Fuel Cycle Division (NEFCD) at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is seeking applicants for a Research Associate position. The ESD Group accelerates the design, development and deployment of advanced energy systems such as advanced nuclear reactors, neutron science facilities, energy storage and power conversion systems through experimental research and physical testing.


As a member of this research and development group, you might contribute to:

  • Development and operation of high-temperature molten salt facilities as proof-of-principal demonstrations of nuclear and solar applications,
  • Surrogate fluid testing of design concepts to validate simulation predictions for system components,
  • Multiphase flow testing to understand dispersed phase behavior and multiphase heat transfer,
  • Characterization of fluid-structure interaction phenomena,
  • Demonstration of advanced construction and/or manufacturing strategies,   
  • Demonstration and integration of advanced measurement methods, including ORNL’s material characterization capabilities.

Work in these areas supports the research programs of the US Department of Energy, partnerships with other federal programs, industry collaborations, and operations at ORNL’s major research facilities, such as the Spallation Neutron Source and High Flux Isotope Reactor. The group operates multiple research laboratories, including a 4500 sq. ft high bay with 1.6 MW of electrical power and 1 MW of chilled water capacity.


Our Senior Research and Development (R&D) Staff are scientific leaders in and beyond the ORNL community and help to define the future of their respective areas of expertise. This position works closely with the R&D line leadership to define and implement the scientific vision; establish capabilities that enable programs to excel at the forefront of science and technology; perform R&D to advance the field of knowledge and/or technology in one’s respective specialty; set, implement, and model standards for performance of work consistent with Environment, Safety, Security, Health, and Quality (ESH&Q) requirements and business rules; effectively mentor future generations of researchers; and ensure a diverse and inclusive work environment where every employee feels safe, heard, and appreciated—a workplace that sets an example for the broader community.  The incumbent will work with and lead scientists and engineers at the US Department of Energy (DOE),other DOE laboratories, the Nuclear Regulatory Commision, international collaborators, and industrial partners.


Major Duties/Responsibilities: 

  • Research
    • Initiate, plan and execute high-impact R&D programs and projects, working with project sponsors, research staff, operations staff, and external collaborators to identify and implement innovative solutions to the most important and challenging problems.
    • Thoroughly document work performed to meet sponsor and mission needs, including preparation of peer-reviewed papers for publications in journals and conference proceedings.
    • Propose innovative ideas to advance the state of the art and attract research funding opportunities.
  • Leadership
    • Lead interactions with existing and potential sponsors to develop new programs and pursue funding opportunities.
    • Exercise the principles in ORNL’s “Research Code of Conduct” as a guide for proposing, performing, and communicating research.
    • Lead ESH&Q by example, maintain a questioning attitude, and ensure all work is carried out safely, securely, and in compliance with ORNL policies, standards, and procedures.
  • Service
    • Mentor early career researchers and supporting technical staff to execute world-leading experimental research.
    • Build strong teams across ORNL and strong collaborations with external partners.
    • Advance the reputation of the group members and standing of the group as a whole through establishing collaborations, Professional Society leadership and involvement, and organization of technical events.


Basic Qualifications:

  • PhD in nuclear engineering, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering or engineering physics or closely related field
  • 6 or more years of relevant post-graduate experience
  • Physical requirements: Must be able to lift 25 lb unassisted. Capable of standing for extended periods of time, using a ladder, stooping and kneeling


Preferred Qualifications:

  • Demonstrated experience working in a thermal-fluids laboratory setting and leading experimental research.
  • Established aptitude with the mechanical and hydraulic design of thermal and fluids experiments
  • Substantive experience with design of experiments methods, thermal hydraulics scaling methods, use of finite element analysis (FEA) or computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis with codes such as ANSYS, COMSOL, STAR-CCM+, NX in the design of experiments, and/or execution of experimental campaigns for the validation of such analysis methods
  • Previous experience with advanced instrumentation techniques (e.g., particle image velocimetry, laser Doppler velocimetry, gamma tomography, optical methods, ultrasonic velocimetry) and uncertainty quantification
  • Experience working with high-temperature (>500 C) and/or high-pressure (>7 MPa) experiments (e.g., molten salt, liquid metals, supercritical water, supercritical carbon dioxide)


About Fusion and Fission Energy and Science Directorate:

The Fusion and Fission Energy and Science Directorate (FFESD) addresses compelling challenges in fission and fusion energy systems, enabling Oak Ridge National Laboratory to pursue national priorities in current and advanced nuclear research, development, and deployment.


FFESD traces its roots to the X-10 Graphite Reactor, the world’s first continuously operated nuclear reactor, and to early innovations in fusion research and engineering. The directorate’s unique facilities, capabilities, and talented scientists and engineers are currently tackling such challenges as extended operations of the current US nuclear reactor fleet; investigating economical and flexible advanced reactor systems; and making fusion energy a viable power source. The directorate leverages synergies between fusion and fission across domestic and international programs.


FFESD leads US ITER, which has the responsibility of designing, fabricating, and delivering hardware for the international ITER fusion project. The directorate also leads the Transformational Challenge Reactor program and the Material Plasma Exposure eXperiment (MPEX), a future world-leading capability that will produce the extreme plasma environments to test materials for use in fusion energy devices. To learn more about FFESD at ORNL go to


Special Requirements

Physical Requirements: Work involves various physical requirements and working conditions. As such, a pre-hire physical will be required after offer.

Export control, no clearance:  This position requires access to technology that is subject to export control requirements. Successful candidates must be qualified for such access without an export control license.


This position will remain open for a minimum of 5 days after which it will close when a qualified candidate is identified and/or hired.

We accept Word (.doc, .docx), Adobe (unsecured .pdf), Rich Text Format (.rtf), and HTML (.htm, .html) up to 5MB in size. Resumes from third party vendors will not be accepted; these resumes will be deleted and the candidates submitted will not be considered for employment.

If you have trouble applying for a position, please email

ORNL is an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants, including individuals with disabilities and protected veterans, are encouraged to apply.  UT-Battelle is an E-Verify employer.

Nearest Major Market: Knoxville