INL Tours

Explore the nation’s laboratory for nuclear energy

Idaho National Laboratory (INL) is the nation’s laboratory for nuclear energy research, development, demonstration and deployment. It is our mission to ensure the nation’s energy security through safe, competitive and sustainable energy systems and unique national and homeland security capabilities.

Sign up for one of our Virtual tours to learn more.

Virtual Tour: Nuclear 101

Nuclear power accounts for 55 percent of all carbon-free electricity in the U.S and lowers emission by more than 476 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. This tour will explain the basics of how to make electricity by splitting an atom.

Virtual Tour: INL History

What started as the National Reactor Testing station in 1949 has become the nation’s laboratory for nuclear energy research and development. Learn more about the history of the lab from the end of World War II up to present day, as well as common misconceptions about nuclear energy.

Virtual Tour: INL Facilities

INL provides innovations in nuclear research, renewable energy systems and security solutions that are changing the world. Learn more about some of the lab’s flagship facilities like the Advanced Test Reactor, the Hot Fuel Examination Facility and the Energy Systems Laboratory.

Virtual Tour: 52 Reactors

Fifty-two reactors have been built and operated on INL’s 890-square-mile site since 1949 and more than 300 commercial nuclear power reactors operating around the world trace their roots to eastern Idaho. This tour spotlights the reactors INL has developed and how they have pushed forward the peaceful use of nuclear power for the U.S. and the world.

Virtual Tour: Experimental Breeder Reactor-I (EBR-I)

EBR-I is a National Historic Landmark where usable electricity was first generated from nuclear energy in 1951. It’s the only place in America you can see four nuclear reactors — including two aircraft nuclear propulsion prototypes, a reactor control room, remote handling devices for radioactive materials, radiation detection equipment, and much more.

Virtual Tour: Explorers and Emigrants

Many travelers have traversed what is now the INL desert Site in the past 200-plus years. Join the INL Cultural Resource Management Office staff for “Just Passing Through, A Virtual Tour of Exploration, Emigrations and Early Transportation Across INL” to learn about the early journeys of fur trappers, mountain men, pioneers and more.

Virtual Tour: Shoshone-Bannock Pre-Contact

Travel through Idaho’s past to learn the traditional lifeways of the Shoshone and Bannock people. Southern Idaho has been part of the traditional territory of the Shoshone and Bannock people for millennia. Learn how their culture and lifeways are connected to the landscape and resources of the INL and the eastern Snake Plain.

INL Research Campuses

Advanced Test Reactor

Unlike Experimental Breeder Reactor-I (EBR-I), the purpose of ATR is not to produce electricity. Instead, the ATR is a virtual time machine for researchers. By design, it produces an extremely high number of neutrons compared to a nuclear power plant. This enables scientists to place materials in the ATR and expose them to higher concentrations of neutrons, speeding up the aging process; researchers can see and understand in a few weeks or months what would take years or decades to see under normal reactor operation. ATR also produces radioactive isotopes used in medicine and industry, including cobalt-60, which is used to treat brain or breast cancer, and plutonium-238 to heat and power NASA missions.


 

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Materials and Fuels Complex

Next, the virtual tour heads to the Materials and Fuels Complex (MFC), where you will see the dome of the historic Experimental Breeder Reactor-II. EBR-II provided a portion of INL’s power for three decades before it was shut down in 1994.

We will learn about the Transient Reactor Test (TREAT) Facility, which subjects nuclear fuel to accident conditions in a contained, controlled environment. TREAT aids scientists and engineers to continuously improve nuclear fuel performance and safety. As with ATR, TREAT is a one-of-kind reactor with capabilities that cannot be matched anywhere else in the world.

Next, we will stop at the Hot Fuel Examination Facility (HFEF), which contains the largest inert hot cell in the world. Hot cells are shielded, contained facilities that allow staff to remotely disassemble and examine radioactive experiments from ATR, TREAT or any other facility. The walls and windows are four feet thick and give workers full radiation protection to safely handle materials inside the cell using manipulator arms – arms like robots that offer “hands-on” handling of radioactive material remotely.

We will also learn how MFC and INL support NASA by assembling, testing and certifying radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs), the power systems that provide heat and electricity for NASA missions. Since this system was relocated to INL, MFC has assembled and delivered the RTGs for the Pluto-New Horizons mission as well as the Mars rovers, Curiosity and Perseverance.


 

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Research and Education Campus

The Research and Education Campus (REC) includes all the facilities in Idaho Falls. A few stops of interest surround the cybersecurity research we do at INL, including the new Cybercore Integration Center and the Collaborative Computing Center. We will also take you through the Energy Systems Laboratory (ESL).

Research at ESL includes a battery testing laboratory focused mainly on hybrid and electric vehicle batteries, a microgrid that includes solar panels, flow batteries, and real-time wind data from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado. This laboratory space is dedicated to understanding the impacts of electric vehicle charging on the grid and how to standardize charging platforms, and real-time digital simulators to combine all of the inputs, and withdrawals, from the power grid. INL is adding to these capabilities to replicate the electrical and heating inputs of either microreactors or small modular reactors to study and understand other applications for nuclear, including hydrogen production, water desalination or process heat for industrial applications. The Biomass Feedstock National User Facility at ESL is a reconfigurable space to optimize harvesting, pretreating, transporting and storing various biomass products for the nation in a cost-effective and environmentally sound manner.


Virtual Self-Guided Tours

TravelStorys Tours

There is also an on-demand tour of INL and EBR-I through TravelStorys.

Download the app on your mobile device or access it through your computer here.  The tour is divided into two portions – a narrated highway tour of historical and current INL facilities that can be seen from the highway – and a narrated tour through EBR-I.

When EBR-I is once again open, visitors can use the app for a “guided tour” through the building.

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360-degree tours

Step into an operating test reactor, explore the world’s largest inert hot cell or visit INL’s biomass lab all from your connected device.

Virtual Field Trip: Nuclear Reimagined

Take a journey inside Idaho National Laboratory, the nation’s lead lab for nuclear energy research, development, demonstration and deployment. Here, scientists and engineers create fuel particles to enhance space exploration, research and improve energy production, and design the next generation of nuclear technology and equipment.

Advanced Test Reactor Tour

The Advanced Test Reactor at Idaho National Laboratory is the foremost nuclear materials test reactor in the world. This virtual tour describes the reactor, how experiments are conducted, and how spent nuclear fuel is handled and stored.

Materials and Fuels Complex Tour

The Materials and Fuels Complex at Idaho National Laboratory is home to several facilities used for the research and development of nuclear fuels.

For the full list of INL virtual tours, visit: https://inl.gov/360-tour-map/

Contact Information

INL Tours

Phone: (208) 526-0050

Idaho National Laboratory