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SRNL historic image
SRNL historic image

About SRNL

Our History


Evolution of SRNL’s Department of Energy Role

The Savannah River Site was constructed to produce the basic materials necessary in the fabrication of nuclear weapons, primarily tritium and plutonium-239. Five reactors were also built in an effort to produce these materials for our nation’s defense programs. In support of these efforts, the Savannah River Laboratory was created. In August 1950, a top secret letter regarding the scope of work for the site included the directive that “new research and development facilities would be included at the main site or elsewhere to the extent required to support the work. Such facilities will be provided for the solution of process improvement and process development problems which may arise in connection with the work.” With this directive, the Savannah River Laboratory was created and soon became the second largest research facility for operator E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Company.

The original Savannah River Laboratory included five main facilities: a main laboratory for process development and experimental research; the Waste Disposal Facility to handle waste created by the laboratory; the Pile Physics laboratory, which contained experimental reactors; and CMX and TNX. CMX was established to determine the treatment needed for cooling water in reactor heat exchangers and TNX was used to determine operational information for separations. The laboratory quickly expanded to include a health physics laboratory, equipment engineering laboratory, and temporary labs such as a fluid pressure bonding laboratory and a mockup of a reactor tank. Since that time, the lab changed its name to the Savannah River Technology Center and is now the Savannah River National Laboratory.

SRNL historic image

SRNL has evolved to be designated as the only national laboratory for the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management and is the nation’s only complete nuclear material management facility.

“We feel that an aggressive research and development program for process improvement is justified for the benefit of the Savannah River Plant, and that it can most effectively be realized as our responsibility. It should be administered with employees under our direction and closely integrated with the plant operation in which the opportunity for improvements is apparent in proper perspective.”

R. Monte Evans, Assistant General Manager of DuPont’s Explosives Department
(1951 letter to Curtis Nelson, Field Manager, Atomic Energy Commission.

Cold War Production Savannah River Laboratory (1951 - 1992)
Cold War Production

SRNL served as the research and development Site R&D laboratory – primary focus on startup and operation of site processes and facilities

Savannah River Technology Center (1992 – 2004)
Environmental Restoration

Evolving emphasis on environmental remediation, tritium processing, and nonproliferation.

Strong effort to expand customer base outside of SRS.

National Security Programs- Growth in work for other DOE sites, including Hanford/WTP

Environmental Restoration

Savannah River National Laboratory (2004 – Present)

Recognition of the Laboratory’s success in developing a multi-program portfolio.

Continued emphasis on deployable solutions – applying capabilities to assist the EM mission across the DOE Complex

SRNL Future
New Technology Deployment and Focused Research and Development

SRNL will continue to evolve as a multi-purpose national laboratory that plays a strategic role in the DOE Complex, the region, and the world.
New Technology Deployment and Focused Research and Development



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