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Old 10-25-2013, 09:26 PM
 
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Bill Gates visited yesterday to review and learn. He has ongoing private business collabertions at INL. I remember when some Microsoft employees or family members asked some of us here at CDF for tips about moving. It was my impression those first 10 employees were working with other teams spread throughout the US.

Regardless of who is working on what, I think it's time INL had a thread. It makes our lives different having one of the 20 DOE labs in our part of Idaho.

INL's press release: https://inlportal.inl.gov/portal/ser...tory=DA_615023

MSR
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Old 10-26-2013, 06:36 PM
 
Location: WY
6,127 posts, read 4,294,127 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mtn. States Resident View Post
Bill Gates visited yesterday to review and learn. He has ongoing private business collabertions at INL. I remember when some Microsoft employees or family members asked some of us here at CDF for tips about moving. It was my impression those first 10 employees were working with other teams spread throughout the US.

Regardless of who is working on what, I think it's time INL had a thread. It makes our lives different having one of the 20 DOE labs in our part of Idaho.

INL's press release: https://inlportal.inl.gov/portal/ser...tory=DA_615023

MSR
From your link:
Privately funded research utilizing government owned facilities validates the important role national laboratories have in advancing innovation. Bill Gates, American business magnate and chair of the nuclear reactor startup company TerraPower, LLC, and his staff toured the Materials and Fuels Complex at Idaho National Laboratory. TerraPower has engaged Idaho National Laboratory to support certain aspects of design for Terrapower's traveling wave reactor, and the visit focused on demonstrating the lab's expertise and capabilities. During his visit on Wednesday of this week, he proclaimed the studies conducted by scientists and engineers as “incredibly important.”

I always refer to INL as the Secret Squirrel Lab, but truthfully don't know a whole lot about the place. I was under the impression that INL was strictly a government installation, so am surprised by the article stating that a private company "engaged INL" and that "privately funded research utilizing government owned facilities" occurs. What kinds of government-private corporation collaborations actually go on there?
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Old 10-26-2013, 10:07 PM
 
Location: Old Mother Idaho
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The INL is manage by a consortium of several private companies.
For decades, a management branch of the University of Chicago, the daddy of all American nuclear research, directed the research projects, and in turn some of them were managed by private companies, such as Lockheed, EG&G, and Phillips Petroleum, while others were managed by various government entities, such as the Navy.

The Navy in particular was a major force at the INL for decades. The first naval prototype reactor was built there, and one just like it propelled the Nautilus, the first nuclear submarine. After the prototype was completed, the Navy built a mock-up reactor space, just as it would be on an actual sub, and used it for over 40 years, until the mid-90s, as a navy school to teach enlisted specialists and engineering officers how to run reactors. Jimmy Carter trained as an Ensign here.

The school is no longer in operation. The Navy now has a generation of later mothballed submarines that can be used for training, and the mock-up became obsolete.

For a brief time, the Army tried some development on very small portable reactors in the 50s, with the intent of using them in very remote environments as a constant power source where nothing else was available. After a serious accident in 1960, where 3 Army staff were killed but no contamination was released, the Army dropped the project.

Over the years, the INL became the test lab for the commercial nuclear electric power industry. They tested everything from brass valves to critical core mechanisms in actual nuclear conditions to learn how they would hold up, and the results established almost all of the specifications for materials used in the nuclear industry.

One very important research project that was completed in the late 80s was the SLAM project. This was a study of what actually happens when a reactor goes critical and the automatic shut-down systems stop the reaction. It was done with a very scaled down reactor that could be re-configured, and it developed a as close to a fail-proof shutdown system as can be done. Much of the knowledge was learned from the failures of 3 Mile Island; critical parts were shipped to the INL for study.

Since the 90s, the INL has been a major research center for alternate forms of electricity, particularly better batteries, and is connected to many private and government groups doing similar research and development. The INL actively participates in helping private spin-off companies get started, and many are headquartered here.

Given the vast expertise here, I think Microsoft and other big software companies may be developing software designed for specific purposes, as increasingly more operations are being controlled by computers.
...and you can bet some is classified. Trade secrets are as closely guarded as national secrets these days.

Why did it all happen here?
Because the big 16" naval guns used on the battleships of WWII were built in Pocatello. The Navy needed a place to test them, and the Arco desert, halfway between Poky and I.F. was the perfect place. The gunnery range became the beginnings of the INL after the war ended.

Nowadays, the INL doesn't employ as many people as it once did. At it's peak in the 80s, there were about 8500 employees, but these days, it's down to around 6500. Not all get government paychecks, but the government pays almost all of the private contractors and sub-contractors there.

I did several jobs as a sub-contractor for both the government and some of the private companies back in the day.

Before the INL was established, Idaho Falls was a farming and light industrial town. We became a very peculiar mix afterward of nuclear physicists, farmers, engineers of every description, cowboys, highly specialized technical workers, blacksmiths, and we all get along quite well. Many of the site workers could live anywhere they want, but they choose to retire here because they enjoy the community so much. Many are active in our civics and local government.
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Old 10-26-2013, 11:58 PM
 
8,440 posts, read 11,937,126 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by banjomike View Post
The INL is manage by a consortium of several private companies.
For decades, a management branch of the University of Chicago, the daddy of all American nuclear research, directed the research projects, and in turn some of them were managed by private companies, such as Lockheed, EG&G, and Phillips Petroleum, while others were managed by various government entities, such as the Navy.

The Navy in particular was a major force at the INL for decades. The first naval prototype reactor was built there, and one just like it propelled the Nautilus, the first nuclear submarine. After the prototype was completed, the Navy built a mock-up reactor space, just as it would be on an actual sub, and used it for over 40 years, until the mid-90s, as a navy school to teach enlisted specialists and engineering officers how to run reactors. Jimmy Carter trained as an Ensign here.

The school is no longer in operation. The Navy now has a generation of later mothballed submarines that can be used for training, and the mock-up became obsolete.

For a brief time, the Army tried some development on very small portable reactors in the 50s, with the intent of using them in very remote environments as a constant power source where nothing else was available. After a serious accident in 1960, where 3 Army staff were killed but no contamination was released, the Army dropped the project.

Over the years, the INL became the test lab for the commercial nuclear electric power industry. They tested everything from brass valves to critical core mechanisms in actual nuclear conditions to learn how they would hold up, and the results established almost all of the specifications for materials used in the nuclear industry.

One very important research project that was completed in the late 80s was the SLAM project. This was a study of what actually happens when a reactor goes critical and the automatic shut-down systems stop the reaction. It was done with a very scaled down reactor that could be re-configured, and it developed a as close to a fail-proof shutdown system as can be done. Much of the knowledge was learned from the failures of 3 Mile Island; critical parts were shipped to the INL for study.

Since the 90s, the INL has been a major research center for alternate forms of electricity, particularly better batteries, and is connected to many private and government groups doing similar research and development. The INL actively participates in helping private spin-off companies get started, and many are headquartered here.

Given the vast expertise here, I think Microsoft and other big software companies may be developing software designed for specific purposes, as increasingly more operations are being controlled by computers.
...and you can bet some is classified. Trade secrets are as closely guarded as national secrets these days.

Why did it all happen here?
Because the big 16" naval guns used on the battleships of WWII were built in Pocatello. The Navy needed a place to test them, and the Arco desert, halfway between Poky and I.F. was the perfect place. The gunnery range became the beginnings of the INL after the war ended.

Nowadays, the INL doesn't employ as many people as it once did. At it's peak in the 80s, there were about 8500 employees, but these days, it's down to around 6500. Not all get government paychecks, but the government pays almost all of the private contractors and sub-contractors there.

I did several jobs as a sub-contractor for both the government and some of the private companies back in the day.

Before the INL was established, Idaho Falls was a farming and light industrial town. We became a very peculiar mix afterward of nuclear physicists, farmers, engineers of every description, cowboys, highly specialized technical workers, blacksmiths, and we all get along quite well. Many of the site workers could live anywhere they want, but they choose to retire here because they enjoy the community so much. Many are active in our civics and local government.

Nice summary Mike.

Yes, we do not know all the private and most certainly classified or confidential clients. The US Air Force/Army got that truck scanning device they used in Iraq and elsewhere for security/screening purposes. The Air Force has some other projects too.

INL is working on Internet security and twice yearly allies and friendly nations send their Cyberspace experts to Idaho Falls for " Cyber wars."

Every decade the bidding from the DOE posts RFPs. Bids are submitted by the major contractor with specialty subcontractors. Each team that bids must work with four different universities from around the U.S. With the addition of CAES and NASA projects and other work published in scientific journals ( and new patents), I believe the collaboration with different universities is at an all time high with 12. I think a recent directive was to add 3-4 more.

This is old but gives you an idea what Universities have done collaborations with INL. https://inlportal.inl.gov/portal/ser...tory=DA_540476

There's more but that's a start.
For those who actually will use the search feature, more has been posted about from years back. Breers23 was one of the first Ph.D students to attend and earn his Ph.D.

Feel free to look online and even visit what you can at INL. Services/labs/ offices are split between the deseret and Idaho Falls at the complex of buildings north of University Place. University Blvd is worth driving around if you haven't been there lately.

MSR
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Old 10-27-2013, 02:13 PM
 
Location: WY
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Thanks to both of you for some very interesting information.
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Old 10-30-2013, 07:07 PM
 
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Question: Do a lot of INL workers work from home? Just wondering, because a new neighbor, who introduced himself to me as a newcomer to the INL, seems to be always home. His truck never moves. Perhaps he has other transportation. But how common is it for INL workers to work from home?
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Old 10-30-2013, 07:39 PM
 
8,440 posts, read 11,937,126 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pw72 View Post
Question: Do a lot of INL workers work from home? Just wondering, because a new neighbor, who introduced himself to me as a newcomer to the INL, seems to be always home. His truck never moves. Perhaps he has other transportation. But how common is it for INL workers to work from home?
Well, he may be working for a private company and can work from home. Most likely he catches an INL bus or carpools. If he's based in town and big on fitness maybe he bikes.

Ask him... maybe you'll learn about another company coming or already here getting things set up for additional employees.

The one from OR is pushing hard for drone work. Is he a supervisor or part of an " advance team?"

invite him to CDF please. It would be great to have a current INL employee post here.

MSR

Last edited by Mtn. States Resident; 10-30-2013 at 08:18 PM..
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Old 11-13-2013, 11:14 PM
 
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Default Rep. Simpson new Assignment

Who can tell me more about Rep. Simpson's new appointment? I missed that part of the news.

INL sure seemed pleased.

Thanks for info

MSR
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Old 11-26-2013, 11:25 AM
 
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Question What's This About, if you Know? Opening up a Vacant Reactor for Nuclear Testing

Nuclear testing could resume in Idaho | KTVB.COM Boise

Thanks for any insight. I might have the best contact of all, but not certain I can ask about this yet. I guess I'll simply say interesting timing for my contact's new assignment.

msr
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Old 11-26-2013, 11:30 PM
 
Location: WY
6,127 posts, read 4,294,127 times
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Considering I only live a few miles from this place I know next to nothing about it, aside from what I have read here. There's a tiny (and a little pot holed) air strip just outside of town (Atomic City) and I always wondered if that thing was actually used.

I was walking my dog this morning out on BLM land and saw a small plane land on the airstrip. Five minutes later it took off again. Dropping off a Secret Squirrel, no doubt.
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