Idaho National Laboratory: Pioneering Research in Idaho

You may not think that Idaho is a center for engineering, energy research, and innovation. You’ll be surprised, then, to find out that Idaho houses many major labs and engineering companies. Hewlett Packard and Micron both have large establishments in Boise and Meridian. These companies provide employment for many Treasure Valley occupants. The rest of Idaho’s cities are interspersed with smaller companies. In addition to the many science and engineering labs in Idaho, there is one major lab that conducts pioneering research in nuclear energy, bioenergy, robotics, and various other projects. This is the Idaho National Laboratory.


How did such a lab end up in Idaho? The lab is located in a remote, high desert location between Arco, Idaho, and Idaho Falls.  Established in 1949, the lab was a reactor testing site, and known as the National Reactor Testing Station. Since then, it’s name has changed several times, and finally ended up with the title, Idaho National Laboratory. In it’s time, over fifty unique nuclear reactors have been built in the site by various organizations and tested by the scientists and engineers that work there. Currently, the lab is used primarily for energy research and employs about four thousand people.


Idaho National Laboratory is currently working on several projects, mostly centered around nuclear energy efficiency, waste storage, and uses. There are three primary categories; Nuclear Energy, National and Homeland Security, and Energy and Environment.  Under nuclear energy, they are exploring ways to use nuclear energy for more than just electricity generation. These uses would include heating for hydrogen production among other industrial uses. They also aim to use physics more than man made intervention to stabilized reactors. Waste recycling is another method they research, so the indefinite storage of radioactive waste is not such a problem. For national and homeland security, the lab works on preventing the use of weapons of mass destruction. This includes the infrastructure security associated with nuclear power plants and the collection and storage of uranium. For environmental research, they test hybrid motors, robotics, and biological studies. The idea is for nuclear energy to provide the electricity for hybrid motors rather than coal. The robotics testing is aimed for use in hazardous materials cleanup, measuring radiation, and other tasks that are dangerous for people to attempt in person. Their biological studies are intended to see if bacteria and other small organisms can increase energy efficiency.

The Idaho National Laboratory is a pioneering research facility that works to improve the future. This nationally recognized lab has provided extensive services to the American public and is a source of pride for Idahoans. It also provides employment for all of you nuclear scientists out there, so if you are interested in working to improve the energy efficiency of Idaho and the United States, consider moving to Idaho to check it out.

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