INL News Release
Oct. 28, 2015

Rick Bolton, 208-589-8846,
Laura Scheele, 219-381-8672,

Regional recognition for Advanced Test Reactor engineering/construction modification

IDAHO FALLS, IDAHO – For the second year in a row, Idaho National Laboratory (INL) has garnered recognition from industry peers for completion of a major engineering/construction modification.

The Advanced Test Reactor (ATR) Transition to Commercial Power modification was chosen by flagship construction magazine Engineering News-Record as the first-place winner in the energy-industrial category of its 2015 Best Projects competition which includes new projects, or the renovations or modifications of existing facilities for the mountain states.

The work demonstrated the successful collaboration of a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory with a manufacturer to design, fabricate, test and install a custom-built Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) that meets stringent U.S. nuclear safety and quality assurance requirements. This modification resulted in improved operational safety and reliability, significant carbon emission reductions, and major operating cost savings for the Advanced Test Reactor, America’s leading nuclear energy research reactor.

INL can expect an annual savings of $550,000 by using commercial electrical power and an energy-efficient, redundant battery system while the reactor is operating, in place of a system that included continuous operation of diesel generators. Diesel generators are still in place and ready to operate as a backup source of power.

Ending continuous operation of the diesel generators significantly reduces the carbon footprint of INL. Eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from the combustion of 225,000 gallons of diesel fuel provides a net reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 892 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent annually. This corresponds to a 100 percent reduction of process-related stationary combustion emissions for the ATR area, and a 28 percent reduction of overall INL stationary combustion emissions.

A panel of eight judges from all areas of the industry – architects, general contractors, consultants, academics and engineers – selected winners in the 2015 Intermountain Area Best Projects competition. The INL team earned the award competing against entries from the states of Idaho, Utah and Montana. The ATR modifications will be profiled in the October issue of ENR Mountain States and honored at a special awards breakfast in Salt Lake City on Oct. 27.

Joe Giebel, ATR Project and Plant Engineering Division director, said the modifications significantly improved the ATR’s already conservative margin of safety and its mission reliability.

“This was a major team effort,” said Paul Henslee, ATR Life Extension Program director. The objective was to help ensure the unique research reactor fulfills its nuclear reactor materials and fuels research mission to the U.S. and the international community for the next generation. The ATR 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. ATR has many uses, supporting a variety of government and privately sponsored research.

Last year, INL’s Energy Innovation Laboratory project team earned Intermountain best green project and best overall project, followed by best green project in the nation.

INL is one of DOE’s national laboratories. The laboratory performs work in each of the DOE strategic goal areas: energy, national security, science and environment. INL is the nation’s leading center for nuclear energy research and development. Day-to-day management and operation of the laboratory is the responsibility of Battelle Energy Alliance.

ENR Magazine announcement