CAES introduces new laboratory |

IDAHO FALLS – The Center for Advanced Energy Studies (CAES) is proud to announce the opening of its newest laboratory, the Small Modular Reactor (SMR) Simulator Laboratory, with NuScale Power’s Energy Exploration (E2) Center at its headquarters in Idaho Falls .

The new lab features a virtual nuclear power plant control room that allows users to take on the role of operator to learn more about NuScale’s SMR technology. For CAES, the new laboratory:

  • Enhances the ability to inspire, educate and train future energy workers.
  • Demonstrates its commitment to educating the next generation of scientists and engineers.
  • supports its promise to conduct state-of-the-art energy research and to work with industry.
  • Provides a valuable tool for educating the public about nuclear energy and reactor technology.
  • Expands the possibilities for joint research between CAES and NuScale.

NuScale’s SMR is the first to be approved by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The first module is expected to be fully commercially operational by the end of the decade. Preliminary plans include building the first NuScale power plant on the 890 square mile desert site of the Idaho National Laboratory west of Idaho Falls as part of the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems carbon-free power plant project.

CAES’s new laboratory is the result of a $ 286,000 award given to CAES-affiliated Professor Richard Christensen at the University of Idaho in 2019 through the Department of Energy’s Nuclear Energy University Program. Christensen is the lead researcher on the project, which includes University of Idaho Professors Robert Borrelli, Michael Haney and Michael McKellar, and NuScale’s Derrick Botha. It is the second simulator to be installed in the United States. The first went online at Oregon State University in 2019. A third will be installed at Texas A&M University.

The new laboratory not only offers practical opportunities to apply nuclear science and engineering principles through simulated real-world nuclear power plant scenarios, but also provides a platform to explore the importance of carbon-free nuclear energy in achieving a safe, clean and secure energy future for the US and the world.

The lab will enhance CAES public relations through demonstrations, tours, and training for community leaders, K-12 students, and interested citizens. The new laboratory will also help the Idaho National Laboratory and Idaho’s Public Research Universities (CAES) facilities research and demonstrate safe and resilient microgrid systems.

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