INL carried out low-power run at the TREAT facility following completion of extensive inspection and refurbishment activities over the last few years.

Nuclear Energy principal deputy assistant secretary Ed McGinnis said: “The Department of Energy’s decision to restore transient testing capability at INL is part of our efforts to revitalize the nation’s nuclear energy capacity.

“By investing in innovative fuel cycle infrastructure, we can advance nuclear as a key source of clean, resilient power and maintain US leadership in developing advanced nuclear technologies.”

The TREAT facility will provide access to nuclear scientists and engineers to test nuclear reactor fuels and materials under extreme conditions. It will also help in increasing the safety and performance of current and future nuclear reactors.

To enable scientists to examine fuel performance, the facility can generate sudden bursts of energy that are over five times more powerful than a commercial power plant.

INL Laboratory director Mark Peters said: “The successful resumption of TREAT operations was the result of the effort of many people within INL and DOE.

“This teamwork resulted in resumption of operations being accomplished 12 months ahead of schedule and for nearly $20m less than originally estimated.”

INL plans to prepare for reactor transient operations and performance of the first new transient experiments scheduled in 2018.

Image: The Transient Reactor Test Facility. Photo: courtesy of Rsb8382/Wikipedia.