Federal funding for INL infrastructure upgrades

26 October 2022

The US government has announced USD150 million in funding provided by President Joe Biden's Inflation Reduction Act for infrastructure improvements at the Department of Energy's (DOE's) Idaho National Laboratory (INL) to enhance nuclear energy research and development.

(Image: INL)

The funding - through the DOE - 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.

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 US Navy's nuclear propulsion programme 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 4-5 years and will include improvements to water and electrical distribution systems, process control systems, and roof replacements to improve research facility reliability and operability.

"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 US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm. "Thanks to President Biden's Inflation Reduction Act, DOE is taking critical steps to strengthen domestic nuclear development and deployment - helping ensure the United States is on track to reach a clean energy future."

The Inflation Reduction Act - signed into law by Biden on 16 August - includes provisions to tackle record inflation, lower healthcare costs, and increase energy security, paid for through corporate taxes, and outlines some USD369 billion in climate and energy investments, with multiple provisions supporting both new and existing nuclear energy.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News