Capabilities of Idaho National Laboratory

World-class research requires world-class facilities. These capabilities enable INL to respond to today’s nuclear energy challenges, serve as a multiprogram laboratory with competencies in energy and national security, and address future challenges.


Advanced Test Reactor

The Advanced Test Reactor (ATR) is the world’s premier nuclear test reactor, and it provides unmatched, national priority nuclear fuel and materials testing capabilities for military, federal, university, and industry partners and customers.

It is the only U.S. research reactor capable of providing large-volume, high-flux neutron irradiation in a prototype environment, and the reactor makes it possible to study the effects of intense neutron and gamma radiation on reactor materials and fuels.


The Advanced Test Reactor Complex lies within INL’s 890 square-mile area in a remote part of the Idaho desert. The complex is 47 miles west of Idaho Falls.

The complex includes several other advanced nuclear energy capabilities including: the Advanced Test Reactor-Critical Facility; Test Train Assembly Facility; Hot Cell Facility; Radiation Measurements Laboratory; Radiochemistry Laboratory; and the Safety and Tritium Applied Research Facility.

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Materials and Fuels Complex

The Materials and Fuels Complex (MFC) is a prime testing center for advanced technologies associated with nuclear energy power systems. This complex is the nexus of research on new reactor fuels and related materials.

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MFC contributes significantly to the development of increasingly efficient reactor fuels and the important work of nonproliferation.

MFC is home to a history of research underlying what the world knows today about nuclear energy and nuclear reactors. Today, a suite of new capabilities allow scientists to adapt powerful tools and technologies to empower the next generation of nuclear energy advances.


The Materials and Fuels Complex has several advanced nuclear energy capabilities including:

Research and Education Campus in Idaho Falls

The landscape of INL’s Idaho Falls-based campus has evolved markedly in the past 10 years with several new facilities that allow researchers to further INL’s mission of ensuring the nation’s energy security.

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The Energy Innovation Laboratory is the gateway to INL’s Idaho Falls campus. This 148,000-square-foot facility houses 127 flexible laboratory space modules that allows researchers  to advance nuclear energy and other energy and environmental research. It has three stories of modern, open-floor laboratory space and flexible, state-of-the-art lab tools, equipment and resources.

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Other important capabilities include the Center for Advanced Energy Studies, National and Homeland Security office and engineering facilities, and the 92,000-square-foot Energy Systems Laboratory.

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User Facilities

INL is a critical hub for performing research, design, development and deployment. Excelling in our mission requires the ability to connect vitally important INL facilities to national and international industry, university, and other national laboratories. INL runs three major user facilities open to the international community.

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Specific Manufacturing Capability (SMC)  

Since 1984, INL’s Specific Manufacturing Capability (SMC) has been the lead manufacturer of armor packages for the U.S. Army’s Abrams main battle tank. SMC has the ability to provide independent technical evaluations and solutions to manufacturing, engineering, and material science for a variety of programs and customers. Key features include:

• Isolated, secure location
• Limited run to full-scale production
• Specialize in bonding similar and dissimilar materials
• Seasoned technical experts with years of experience


Under the strictest security, safety, and environmental requirements, SMC has excelled in on-time deliveries of armor packages for the nation’s elite main battle tank. Our proven expertise and infrastructure investments make SMC an essential survivability resource for the nation.

More Nuclear Energy R&D Capabilities