Idaho National Laboratory’s Advanced Test Reactor is the world’s most powerful research reactor. It serves as the flagship irrigation facility in the U.S.
It began operating over fifty years ago in 1967 and according to Hans Vogl, The Strategic Radiations Capabilities Director for Idaho National Laboratory, takes over 500 people to fully run. He also says it’s different from other reactors.
“It is a research reactor, not a commercial power reactor. It’s the highest power research reactor within the department,” said Vogl.
This means that rather than generating heat, the reactor generates neutrons.
“The neutrons are used to irradiate other fuels and materials and also generate some isotopes that we use both in the NASA space program and in the medical isotope arena,” said Vogl.
The reactor supports a variety of experiments including the U.S DOE nuclear R&D programs, the U.S. Navy, university and industry research.