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Nuclear Industry Hub

NextGen Nuclear in the Oak Ridge Corridor

Leading with Innovation and Ingenuity

Building on our Manhattan Project era legacy of nuclear innovation, East Tennessee is again at the forefront of new nuclear technologies that have the potential to change the world. East Tennessee has many valuable resources for companies in the nuclear industry.

Companies here are thriving and more are locating to the area to take advantage of the talented workforce. Scroll down to see maps of nuclear companies and workforce in the State of Tennessee.

Tennessee has strong advocates in U.S. Congressman Chuck Fleischmann along with Tennessee’s Governor Bill Lee who recently announced a $50M investment fund for recruiting companies in the advanced nuclear industry. Most recently Governor Lee signed an Executive Order to create a Tennessee Nuclear Energy Advisory Council. (Which includes ETEC President, Tracy Boatner.)

Combine this federal and state support with assets like Oak Ridge National Lab, Tennessee Valley Authority, and the University of Tennessee, and the future is bright for nuclear energy in The Oak Ridge Corridor.

Maps: Nuclear Companies Located in TN

With specialized technical expertise and an industry cluster that grows more each year, East Tennessee is the best location in the nation for nuclear-related companies.

In fact, an updated study in 2023 shows 229 nuclear companies in the State of Tennessee. 154 of those companies are located in Oak Ridge-Knoxville area. Below are map that ORNL and ETEC created to show the density of nuclear companies in the State (2023) and in the region (2022 & 2015).

2023
Source: Brun, Lukas C and Todd Royal (2023). "The Nuclear Industry Value Chain" E4 Carolinas; and ETEC in partnership with UT Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy
2022
2022 Map of East Tennessee Nuclear Companies
2015
2015 Map of East Tennessee Nuclear Companies

Map: Nuclear Workforce - Nuclear Is Here

Source: ETEC's Nuclear Working Group in partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Unveiled at ETEC's NOW 2023 Conference, this 20' x 7' graphic display was created to show the nuclear workforce in the State of Tennessee. Through our Nuclear Working Group, ETEC brought together leaders from industry, government contractors, universities, and economic development organizations to begin defining our nuclear workforce. This “Nuclear Is Here” illustration captures their input, linkages among sectors, and gaps that need to be addressed.

This is a work in progress, and we invite your input. If you have thoughts, workforce needs, opportunities, or examples of what your organization is doing in this area, please send us an email.

On December 12, 2023 the Knoxville News Sentinel wrote an article about the nuclear renaissance and how Nuclear Is Here! Click here to read the article.

ETEC's Annual Nuclear Conference

NOW, the Nuclear Opportunities Workshop is a nuclear industry conference focused on both fission and fusion subjects for professionals and suppliers. It is a place to learn about industry developments, business opportunities, and advancements in research and technologies. Attendees are able to network and connect with experts at Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), and federal U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) contractors: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Y-12 Nuclear Security Complex, United Cleanup of Oak Ridge (UCOR), and Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU). Also, both small and large private-industry that have demonstration projects, technology capabilities, students, interns, and post-doctoral candidates attend. Click here to learn more about the NOW Conference. To receive updates about upcoming our NOW events, click here.

Click here to see a summary of the past conferences held by ETEC.

ETEC's Nuclear Working Group

ETEC's Nuclear Working Group, formed in 2007, comprises over 20 ETEC member companies and individuals who work in and with the nuclear industry and are interested in promoting East Tennessee as a great place to do business. They meet monthly to talk about the status of their nuclear projects occurring in our region and to plan the annual Nuclear Opportunities Workshop.

Click here to read the history of the Working Group from Dr. Eric Abelquist’s perspective. These are the remarks he gave at an ETEC Friday Morning meeting on Friday, December 10, 2021.

Why Tennessee?

Here are a few reasons why the nuclear industry wants to be in East Tennessee.

  • A nuclear advocate in the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Chuck Fleischmann, Chair of the House Energy and Water Development Subcommittee and co-chair of the House Nuclear Cleanup Caucus.
  • A pro-nuclear Governor and State Legislature that has allocated $50 million to recruit innovative nuclear companies to our state and to expand the growth of existing nuclear companies.
  • Access to research and development capabilities and collaboration with some of the world’s experts relative to advanced nuclear technologies at the Tennessee Valley Authority, Y-12 National Security Complex, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and Oak Ridge Associated Universities.
  • TVA’s Clinch River Site where they are making plans to site multiple small modular reactors by early 2030s.
  • In East Tennessee Centrus Energy designs, tests, and manufactures the world’s most advanced uranium enrichment centrifuge machines. Centrus also supports other companies in the advanced reactor fuel cycle by leveraging their decades of expertise in uranium chemistry, nuclear facility licensing, and criticality analysis.
  • A hub of advanced nuclear innovators making their home in Oak Ridge: Kairos Power, TRISO-X, and Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation; along with fusion energy innovators, Type One Energy.
  • A pro-nuclear community with a pool of talented individuals who have expertise in nuclear operations.
  • A strong system of education and workforce partnerships with the University of Tennessee and Tennessee Technological University in addition to nuclear training programs provided by Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technologies and Community Colleges including Roane State, Pellissippi State, and Chattanooga State.  Labor partnerships provide additional apprenticeship opportunities.
  • Oak Ridge Associated University's (ORAU) new STEM Accelerator program will have an initial focus on the Nuclear Science and Technology workforce in order to meet urgent needs within this industry.
  • A diligent and focused DOE Environmental Management program whose contractor UCOR is completing legacy cleanup at the Y-12 National Security Complex and ORNL to make way for new missions. This team also cleaned up the East Tennessee Technology Park, (former K-25 Manhattan Era site). Many nuclear companies have located in this brownfield site, now called Heritage Center, and in the adjoining Horizon Center Industrial Park.
  • Nearly 230 companies working in the nuclear industry statewide.

Quick Look: Nuclear Industry in East TN

Oak Ridge and the East Tennessee region offer opportunities for collaboration with both the public sector and private companies in a variety of areas.

Below is a list of many of those areas and some of the companies/entities that are working towards solutions.

Nuclear Focused Media in the Oak Ridge Corridor

U.S. Department of Energy Secretary's Visit

On December 5, 2023, DOE Secretary Jennifer Granholm visited TVA's Clinch River Nuclear Site.

Read the Knoxville News Sentinel article about the visit here.

Click below to watch the video interview.

Other Media Featuring Nuclear in Tennessee

News Articles
What could the 'nuclear renaissance' hold for Tennessee? Thousands of high paying jobs (By Daniel Dassow, Knoxville News Sentinel)

'Nuclear is here': Why a Nuclear Renaissance is Happening in Knoxville and Oak Ridge (By Daniel Dassow, Knoxville News Sentinel. It contains a quote from ETEC President Tracy Boatner.)

Gov. Lee Issues Executive Order to Advance Nuclear Energy Innovation & Investment (State of Tennessee Press Release)

Governor Wants Tennessee to Become Nation’s Leader in Developing Next Generation of Nuclear Power (Chattanooga Times Free Press article. It contains a quote from ETEC President Tracy Boatner.)

Gov. Lee Names Tennessee Nuclear Energy Advisory Council Appointees (Tracy is on this council.)

Members of State Nuclear Advisory Council Named (ANS article)

Energizing Tennessee Podcast – Featuring ETEC & Kairos Power.

Secret City to Advanced Nuclear Hub: Tennessee’s Legacy of Innovation and Development in Nuclear Energy

This episode highlights the power of partnerships and why the East Tennessee region is ripe for nuclear innovation.

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