Monday, July 14, 2014

Idaho National Labs: Taking Nuclear Energy into the Digital Age

The following blog post was submitted by Idaho National Laboratory’s Caleb Robison for NEI’s Powered by Our People promotion. Powered by Our People is part of NEI’s campaign called Future of Energy, which NEI launched earlier this year. This promotion aims to communicate innovation in our nation’s nuclear facilities—in the voices of their workforces.

Caleb Robison is an experiment system engineer who has worked at the Department of Energy's Idaho National Laboratory for the past nine years. He also mentors the next generation of nuclear professionals by participating in INL’s internship program.

We can’t wait to highlight your facility’s innovators and their part in the #futureofenergy across our digital channels from July to September. Take a look at the featured content on our website.


Caleb Robison of the Idaho National Laboratory
Caleb Robison works at the lab's Advanced Test Reactor (ATR), where he prepares safety documentation for new experiments, coordinates experiment schedules with reactor operations cycles and provides system engineer support for a hydraulically-operated experiment system that can be loaded while the reactor is operating.

The job provides constant challenges and allows him to think outside the box to find solutions. Working with a research tool as versatile and powerful as the ATR, he says, is exciting. He’s excited to be part of helping develop new technology that takes nuclear to the next level. In short, he feels like he's contributing to "moving nuclear energy technology from the '70s to the digital age." 

"One of the reasons America is so powerful is that we have the energy to fuel our economy," Caleb says. "To continue this into the future we need cheap, reliable, diverse and environmentally responsible energy sources. No one source provides all the solutions to all of the country’s energy needs. I believe that any national energy portfolio that doesn’t include nuclear is unsustainable and will eventually fail."

The one-of-a-kind research conducted at ATR and the collaborative atmosphere created by its DOE National Scientific User Facility provides significant potential success for the nuclear industry worldwide. ATR research also helps extend the life of current reactors and better understand reactor aging phenomena. Caleb relishes being part of that contribution.

"I’m bringing innovation to the nuclear industry by supporting research and development of new materials and fuels for use by the United States Navy and by helping other researchers — international industry, universities and reactor vendors — push the envelope on reactor performance while increasing safety." Caleb especially enjoys opportunities to contribute to nuclear advancement by participating in public outreach opportunities, such as tours and other public forums.

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