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Idaho National Laboratory (INL) is the nation’s laboratory for nuclear energy research, development, demonstration and deployment. We are engaged in the mission of ensuring the nation’s energy security with safe, competitive and sustainable energy systems and unique national and homeland security capabilities.

Under normal circumstances, we offer in-person tours so visitors can learn more about what we do at INL. During this time of social distancing because of the coronavirus pandemic, we are offering virtual tours.

Virtual Tour of Experimental Breeder Reactor-I

Take a virtual, guided tour of Experimental Breeder Reactor-I (EBR-I), the birthplace of nuclear energy. The tour lasts about an hour and offers 360-degree photos to fully experience the museum. All guided tours are presented in Microsoft Teams.

 

Schedule:

Every Monday/Wednesday/Friday at 10 a.m.

Every Tuesday/Thursday at 3 p.m.

 

Sign up for a tour by emailing tours@inl.gov.


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About Experimental Breeder Reactor-I

On Dec. 20, 1951, EBR-I became the first nuclear power plant in the world. It produced enough electricity to light a string of four 200-watt lightbulbs. The next day, it produced enough electricity to power the building and the lights in the parking lot.

In 1966, then-President Lyndon B. Johnson visited EBR-I and designated the reactor a Registered National Historic Landmark.

Learn more about the world’s first nuclear power plant, EBR-I.

Sign up for a virtual facilities tour with INL tour guides by emailing tours@inl.gov. Each tour lasts two hours and is presented in Microsoft Teams.

This two-hour tour includes an overview of 70+ years of INL history. The tour covers the Advanced Test Reactor (ATR) Complex, Materials and Fuels Complex (MFC) and the Research and Education Campus (REC).

Schedule:

Thursdays at 10 a.m.

Other times are available for group tours of 20 or more. To schedule a group tour please email tours@inl.gov.


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About the Tour:

Advanced Test Reactor

Unlike EBR-1, 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.


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TravelStorys Tours

Newly available this summer is 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 Experimental Breeder Reactor-I (EBR-I).

There are two ways to enjoy the TravelStorys tours:

carOn the road: When you drive across the desert on Highway 20/26, past the INL Site, the TravelStorys app will provide narrations as you pass select points.

phoneFrom anywhere in the world: You can click through the highway or EBR-I tour stops remotely through the TravelStorys app.

 

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

Visit the Tour Online
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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.

Play
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.

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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.

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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.

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

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For more info, email tours@inl.gov.