Idaho National Laboratory
Idaho National Laboratory stands out as a distinctly capable science and technology resource. Notably, the lab serves as the nation’s command center for advanced nuclear energy research, development, demonstration and deployment. The lab is home to the unparalleled Advanced Test Reactor and associated assets for post-irradiation examination, fuel fabrication, materials testing and development assets. Leveraging these and numerous other distinguishing features, the lab and its roughly 4,200 scientists, engineers and support staff build on the potential and promise of ideas that can benefit the real world.
A Proud Past and High-Performing Present
INL is one of only 10 multiprogram national laboratories owned by the U.S. Department of Energy. INL performs work in support of DOE’s mission to ensure America’s security and prosperity by addressing its energy, environmental and nuclear challenges through transformative science and technology solutions.
In the early days, INL was known as the National Reactor Testing Station. Since 1949, the Idaho site has been the location of many pioneering developments in nuclear energy. The world’s first usable amount of electricity from nuclear energy was generated in 1951.
Over the years, 52 mostly first-of-their-kind reactors were built at Idaho’s national laboratory, creating the largest concentration of reactors in the world. After fulfilling their research missions, most have since been decommissioned. Although INL today reports up through DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy, the lab conducts a wide range of activities supporting several DOE offices and other federal agencies.
Nuclear Science and Engineering
INL is the leading laboratory in basic and applied nuclear and radiological science research and applications. Both DOE and other public and private entities request the expertise and assistance of INL’s leading nuclear scientists to address critical needs.
INL has nearly 70 years of experience in nuclear reactor plant design, operations and decommissioning, and nuclear materials processing. The lab’s expertise is routinely sought by national and international customers. These standout capabilities are key to supporting DOE’s Light Water Reactor Sustainability and Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) programs. All INL nuclear operations are based on a long tradition of safe and cost-effective operations.
During the 2020 Think Big Festivals Dangers of Progress panel, Idaho National Laboratory’s Dr. Kemal Pasamehmetoglu, executive director of the Versatile Test Reactor Project and founder of Eco:Logic, will address what is in his opinion the world’s most challenging equation.
A tension between humans and the environment has existed since the beginning of our time on Earth. As the global population continues to grow, so do our demands on the planet. During Kemal’s talk, audience members will have the opportunity to engage in an ecological discussion about access to affordable, abundant clean energy and the innovation necessary to evolve and advance our energy ecosystem. Together we must find a way to meet the energy needs of our growing population in a way that balances humans, technology and the environment. To do so we will need both technical and environmental perspectives to rise to this challenge.
National Security Research and Testing
INL’s applied engineering discipline and build-test-build problem-solving approach help the departments of Energy, Defense and Homeland Security, as well as industry partners, solve significant national security challenges in critical infrastructure protection and nuclear nonproliferation.
The laboratory’s signature capabilities, expertise, and unique infrastructure assets support efforts to secure industrial control systems from cyber and physical threats, develop advanced nuclear facility safeguards, and design advanced wireless sensors and protocols.
INL’s 890-square-mile infrastructure test range and co-located laboratories provide an ideal backdrop for conducting significant national security demonstrations and experiments. Test facilities include an isolatable utility-scale power grid, a comprehensive cellular network with 5G capabilities, vast nuclear materials testing, training and analysis facilities, a bulk explosives test range, a water security test bed and an Unmanned Aerial Systems test bed.
During the 2020 Think Big Festival’s Dangers of Progress panel, you’ll hear from Scott Cramer, director of Idaho National Laboratory’s Cybercore Integration Center. Scott is one of the nation’s leading experts on the threats our nation faces from cyberspace. During his talk, you’ll learn how the laboratory and its collaborative partners in industry, government, and academia are working to develop innovative solutions, technology, and methods to shore up protections for the electric power grid, oil and natural gas pipelines, and water treatment facilities, among others. This enlightening discussion may raise a few eyebrows, but you’ll leave more aware and grateful for the globally significant work taking place from the eastern corner of the Gem State.
Energy and Environmental Sustainability
An overarching thrust of INL research is energy security — the nation’s greatest challenge for the 21st century. Energy security includes resource security, economic stability and long-term environmental sustainability. Scientists and engineers are exploring solutions to grand challenges in the areas of clean energy development, competing water resource management, and carbon life-cycle options in order to get the right type of energy to the right place at the right time.
INL researchers are configuring and testing hybrid energy systems to increase the range of beneficial energy options, and to demonstrate that renewable, fossil and nuclear energy systems can be successfully and effectively integrated for greater efficiencies. They also validate the efficiency of using clean energy sources to recycle captured carbon dioxide into chemical feedstocks and consumer goods.
Still others in the lab’s research community are poised to overcome key barriers facing the U.S. bioenergy industry — by harnessing cellulosic biomass resources and enabling the production of biofuels and other renewable value-added products.
Mainstream research is significantly expanding DOE’s ability to evaluate new battery technologies through applied research, development, and diagnostics. This work leads to advanced batteries that live longer, are safer and are more cost-effective for electric-drive vehicles.
To learn more about INL, visit www.inl.gov/yourinl
To learn more about the Versatile Test Reactor, click here.