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DOE Announces US$150 Mn To Improve Nuclear R&D Infrastructure at Idaho National Laboratory

Oct. 27, 2022
The funding will support nearly a dozen projects at INL’s Advanced Test Reactor and Materials Fuels Complex.

The Biden-Harris Administration, through the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), has announced US$150 million in funding provided by the Inflation Reduction Act for infrastructure improvements at DOE’s Idaho National Laboratory (INL) to enhance nuclear energy research and development. The funding will support nearly a dozen projects at INL’s Advanced Test Reactor (ATR) and Materials Fuels Complex (MFC), both of which have been operational for more than 50 years and serve an instrumental role in advancing nuclear technologies for  federal agencies, industry, and international partnerships. Nuclear energy generates nearly a fifth of America’s electricity and accounting for half of all domestic clean energy generation, making it a critical tool to reaching President Biden’s goal of 100% clean electricity by 2035.

“More than 300 commercial reactors operating around the world today can trace their roots back to Idaho National Laboratory, and these infrastructure investments allow America to continue leading the world in groundbreaking nuclear energy research and development,” said Jennifer M. Granholm, U.S. secretary of energy.

The funding will accelerate the replacement of aging plant infrastructure systems at ATR and MFC to ensure both remain operational in supporting several initiatives related to nuclear energy research and development. ATR, for example, conducts research for the U.S. Navy’s nuclear propulsion program and provides fuels and materials testing for industry.

MFC contributes significantly to reactor fuels research and is working to produce small quantities of high-assay low-enriched uranium fuel to support future reactor demonstrations. Infrastructure upgrades at both facilities are expected to be completed within the next 4 to 5 years and will include improvements to water and electrical distribution systems, process control systems, and roof replacements to improve research facility reliability and operability. 

The Inflation Reduction Act includes multiple tax incentives and investments to strengthen the nation’s nuclear energy sector and cut U.S. emissions by 40% before the end of the decade. The legislation appropriated more than US$ 35 billion for new and existing programs at DOE and included US$150 million for the Office of Nuclear Energy to improve its research R&D infrastructure.  

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