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Safety and Risk

Analyzing Nuclear Power Plant Safety Systems and Devising Improvements

INL engineers provide advanced risk and reliability analyses to support complex facilities and processes.  Human factors experts design and test digital instruments and controls.

Materials scientists characterize the properties of reactor alloys. And INL engineers provide data and analyses that help the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission oversee the safety of America’s nuclear power plants.


INL has developed the industry’s premier modeling tools for reactor and fuel development. This includes RELAP, which can be used for reactor safety analysis, reactor design, operator training and as a university educational tool.  Other programs provide models to estimate reliability or risk, determine frequencies of accident scenarios and identify vulnerability in design/operations.


The Human Factors, Controls and Statistics Department is an international leader in the application of scientific methods, techniques and tools to address the performance and operational challenges of mission-critical industries. The Department employs specialized methods and state-of-the-art data analysis and modeling tools to support diverse customers in mission-critical industries to improve their decision-making, operational performance, evaluation of technology options, reliability of humans and systems, and reduction of error. The department consists of three groups that are diverse in their specializations, but complementary in the application of their research. More details are available on the HFCS website linked here:


INL experts are providing technical assistance to utilities reviewing aging analog instrumentation systems. INL suggestions for improving control technologies can enhance human performance, bolster safety and reduce human error in power plants.  For example, one proposed upgrade under development at INL’s Human Systems Simulation Laboratory has the potential to be implemented in nine U.S. nuclear power plants.


INL scientists are characterizing the thermal, physical and mechanical limits of materials that will be used in next-generation high-temperature reactors.  Lab experts also provide nuclear engineering and regulatory analysis support for the U.S. NRC.


The Seismic Research Group within INL’s Nuclear Science & Technology directorate provides Department of Energy and industry partners with advanced, verified and validated methods and tools that provide best-estimate predictions of facility response during and after external hazard events. The SRG uses advanced external hazard analysis tools which are implemented in a comprehensive, risk-informed framework that simulates multiple external hazards at virtual nuclear facilities.

Idaho National Laboratory