The US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced that the US Administration has approved $150 million in funding under President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act for infrastructure improvements at DOE’s Idaho National Laboratory (INL) to enhance nuclear energy research and development. The funding will support a number of 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 support nuclear technologies for federal agencies, industry, and international partnerships.
“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 Energy Secretary Jennifer M 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 funding will accelerate the replacement of ageing 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.
The President’s Inflation Reduction Act includes multiple tax incentives and investments to strengthen US nuclear energy and cut emissions by 40% before the end of the decade. The legislation appropriated more than $35 billion for new and existing programmes at DOE and included $150 million for the Office of Nuclear Energy to improve its research R&D infrastructure.
Image: The Advanced Test Reactor at Idaho National Laboratory (courtesy of DOE)