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Immediate Release

Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Kathleen Hicks and Deputy Secretary of Energy David Turk Visit Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee

Attributable to Pentagon Spokesman Eric Pahon: 

Today, Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Kathleen H. Hicks and Deputy Secretary of Energy David M. Turk visited Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

“Research and education programs at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are cutting edge and teach the critical skills American workers need to stay competitive in the global marketplace,” said Deputy Secretary Hicks. “The advanced manufacturing innovations here are already transforming defense production through major productivity, quality, and business model gains. The program also incorporates student learning opportunities that will provide the talent and creativity needed for the next era of American manufacturing.”

While there, they toured Oak Ridge’s Battery Manufacturing Facility, the largest U.S. open-access battery manufacturing research and development center.  The Department of Energy's Battery Manufacturing Facility provides scientists with the ability to analyze every aspect of battery production. Scientists use advanced computational modeling to accelerate prototyping of cell designs, to screen new battery materials, and to develop accurate lifetime predictions. Open to any U.S. battery manufacturer, material supplier, equipment manufacturer, or battery end user, the center offers the ability to integrate any component into a complete battery and analyze how well it works and how it can be improved.

Deputy Secretary Hicks and Deputy Secretary Turk also visited the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility which is home to “America’s Cutting Edge” (ACE), a joint effort between the Department of Defense and Department of Energy to strengthen America’s machine tool sector, which is essential for defense and clean energy production.  

Since March 2020, DoD has invested $42 million in ACE, a national machine tools innovation hub seeking to restore the prominence of the U.S. machine tool sector, as well as the training program run by the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI)—The Composites Institute. 

Finally, they visited Frontier, the first computer to achieve exascale computation threshold. Delivered in 2021 and open for early operations in 2022, Frontier is accelerating innovation in science and technology and maintaining US leadership in high-performance computing and artificial intelligence. Frontier users will model the entire lifespan of a nuclear reactor, uncover disease genetics, and build on recent developments in science and technology to further integrate artificial intelligence with data analytics and modeling and simulation. Frontier is part of the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility, a Department of Energy Office of Science user facility located at ORNL.

The visit highlighted the importance the Biden-Harris Administration is placing on American manufacturing capabilities and building supply chain resilience. 

The Biden Administration’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides as much as $8.2B to solve domestic battery supply chain challenges. DoD is coordinating with Energy, State, Commerce, and others to ensure those investments are dual-use and benefit national security where possible.

During the tour, Deputy Secretary Hicks and Deputy Secretary Turk had the opportunity to interact with the scientists and students who are doing research in energy storage, materials science, and other critical areas. 

The deputy secretary is on a two-day, four-state tour of the Midwest. Throughout her travel, Deputy Secretary Hicks will focus on linking the department’s resources to our strategic competition priorities, including the pacing threat of China, and ensuring DoD remains the world leader in cutting-edge innovation.