Nuclear Reactor Systems

INL engineers are supporting safe operation of both today’s nuclear power plants and tomorrow’s. In addition to helping the U.S. nuclear industry safely extend the operating licenses of current reactors, INL engineers work with the world’s nuclear experts to evaluate advanced nuclear reactor designs.

The next generation of reactors will feature increased safety margins that rely on natural physical properties in addition to pumps and valves. Advanced reactors also are being designed to be more fuel efficient and economically competitive.

Nuclear reactor systems

Small modular reactors

INL is working with number of private companies seeking to build, demonstrate and commercialize small modular reactors. Both established and startup companies seek to learn from the lab’s experience and access its technical expertise and analysis.

International programs

INL provides critical support to the Generation IV International Forum. The cooperative international endeavor was organized to carry out the research and development required for next-generation nuclear energy systems.


This program is developing the scientific basis to extend existing nuclear power plant operating life beyond the current 60-year licensing period and ensure long-term reliability, productivity, safety, and security. INL serves as the Technical Integration Office and coordinates the research and development projects.

Advanced Reactor Technologies

The Advanced Reactor Technologies (ART) Program was formed in fiscal year 2015 as a consolidation of three former Idaho National Laboratory (INL) programs: Next Generation Nuclear Plant, Small Modular Reactors, and Advanced Reactor Concepts. The ART Program aims to develop new advanced reactor designs and technology to advance the state of reactor technologies, improve competitiveness, and support meeting the nation’s energy, environmental, and national security needs.

ART is a national program funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) not only here in Idaho, but also at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee, Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) in Illinois, and Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) in New Mexico. Employees from these national laboratories support and facilitate INL ART TDO work, just as INL employees are in collaboration with ORNL, ANL, and SNL scientists and engineers. International collaborations are also conducted to help foster and leverage HTR technology across the international community.