By Corey Taule

Idaho National Laboratory’s relationship with North Carolina State University (NCSU) has resulted in the institutions working together on research projects and INL hosting many NCSU interns.

Now, however, it’s time to take things to the next level.
“We need to go to the next level of making cooperation more efficient,” said Dr. Kostadin Ivanov, who heads up the Department of Nuclear Engineering at NCSU. “It’s about maximizing our capabilities.”

Ivanov and Dr. Maria Avramova spent a few days at the lab recently. Avramova is director of the reactor dynamics and fuel modeling group at NCSU. A primary topic of conversation with INL leadership was the need for more joint appointments, working agreements in which both institutions foot the bill and the employee splits his/her time at the university and laboratory.
Avramova said staff and students at NCSU see a tremendous upside in working directly with INL researchers, engineers and technicians.

“They are very interested in working here with experienced and knowledgeable personnel,” she said. “It’s extremely important and beneficial to their future career.”

One of those interns is Han Bao, who enjoyed his experience at the lab so much he returned a second time.

Bao, originally from China, is working toward his Ph.D in nuclear engineering, with a focus on thermal hydraulics and reactor safety analysis. Bao returned to the lab to participate in a NCSU-INL collaboration on the project of Boiling Water Reactor Station Black-out accident analysis, which deals with ensuring the safe operation of nuclear reactors during accidents.

“Every moment at INL has been invaluable to me, not only for the promotion of my research, but for the future of my career,” Bao said.

INL benefits from this arrangement as well, according to Marsha Bala, deputy director of INL’s National University Consortium. Receiving a consistent dose of fresh ideas and energy from young people early in their careers provides a shot in the arm for lab veterans.

“INL views the national consortia members, such as NCSU, as invaluable research partners as well as a rich resource for the next generation of staff members,” Bala said.

Bao is one of 11 NCSU students interning at INL this summer. Ivanov said the realities of today – the need to protect critical infrastructure from cyber threats and nuclear power’s undeniable role in mitigating climate change – should lead to even more interns and joint appointments in the future.
And don’t think this is partnership is limited to government and academia. North Carolina’s dynamic energy sector, which involves companies such as Westinghouse, NuScale, General Electric, Areva, Duke Energy and Southern Company, is eager to collaborate with experts at INL and NCSU.

Nuclear energy accounts for nearly 20 percent of the country’s electricity, and more than 60 percent of the country’s nearly carbon-zero electricity. North Carolina’s three nuclear power plants produce 34 percent of that state’s electricity. And because nuclear produces virtually no greenhouse gases, has an impeccable safety record and supports more than 2,600 high-paying jobs in North Carolina, companies are looking to expand.

“Every major company is there,” Ivanov said. “And INL is well-known and respected because this is the lead nuclear laboratory in the U.S. INL is leading the way.”
September 2016
Amy Lientz, director of Idaho National Laboratory’s Partnerships, Engagement and Technology Deployment directorate, recently announced that Jason Stolworthy will be returning to the lab: 
“I am pleased to announce the arrival of the new director for Technology Deployment, Jason Stolworthy. Jason is not new to INL; he is returning after spending two-and-a-half years overseas establishing Qatar's first Intellectual Property Management and Technology Transfer Office. Before leaving INL, Jason served five years as a technology transfer licensing executive before becoming the Technology Deployment deputy director.

As the former deputy director, Jason developed new ways of conducting business that led to improved operations, and he was a leader in establishing collaborative relationships among the national laboratories. He also implemented a contractor oversight model that resulted in a DOE-wide Fast-Track CRADA, and his software license restructuring efforts led to increased licensing executions.

Jason will lead a well-established team committed to advising and assisting researchers in commercializing technology and providing partnership assistance in market intelligence, industry and university technology transfer networking, education and awareness, and developing tools and processes to better enable success.

Congratulations are also in order for Mark Kaczor. Mark has been the TD acting director and was promoted to senior commercialization lead. He is executing many new initiatives to support commercialization needs in energy and security. Mark recently brought an open source software senior expert, Paul Berg, to INL to establish an open source software management program.
I also would like to extend my gratitude to Mark for his leadership over the past year in his role as the acting manager and for establishing a mission-focused team.

I look forward to working with Jason and his team on exciting new opportunities.”

Call for proposals
The Department of Energy’s Office of Technology Transitions will issue a call in October for Technology Commercialization Fund (TCF) research proposals for FY-17. These funds are intended to advance laboratory technologies toward commercial deployment. They double INL’s resources by providing matching grants for research from the INL Royalty Fund and industry partners.

Researchers are asked to carefully evaluate INL-developed technologies to best fit the topic areas. Topic 1 funding is intended for projects for which additional technology maturation is needed to attract a private partner. Topic 2 funding is intended for cooperative development projects between a lab and an industry partner(s) and is designed to prepare a lab-developed technology for commercial application.

 Type of matching fundsFunding amount per selectionPerformance period
Topic 1 Requires matching funds from the INL Royalty Fund$100,000 to $150,000Six to 12 months
Topic 2Requires matching funds from industry sponsors$250,000 to $750,00012 to 24 months

Technology Deployment encourages researchers to take advantage of this advanced notice to find industry sponsors and to apply for Topic 2 funding wherever possible. This is critical due to the success of the last round of TCF Topic 1 awards which used up most of the INL Royalty Fund to provide the matching portion.

Interested parties and potential industry sponsors can call Mark Kaczor (526-1340) for more information.

September 2016
Baranwal tabbed to head GAIN Initiative 

Dr. Kemal Pasamehmetoglu, associate lab director of Idaho National Laboratory’s Nuclear Science & Technology directorate, announced the selection of Westinghouse executive Dr. Rita Baranwal to serve as director of the INL-led Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) initiative. As GAIN director, Baranwal will lead efforts to support the development of innovative reactor technologies in the U.S.

Pasamehmetoglu has served a dual role leading the GAIN program since it launched in late 2015, as well as INL’s Nuclear Science & Technology directorate at the nation’s lead nuclear energy laboratory. The addition of Baranwal will enable further growth as GAIN continues to expand. She began her new role on Aug. 22. 

“Rita brings a wealth of industry experience and nuclear fuels and materials science expertise to her new role,” Pasamehmetoglu said. “I’m confident that she will provide strong leadership for the GAIN program as it continues to grow as a catalyst for innovation in advanced nuclear technologies.”

Baranwal served most recently as director of Technology Development in the Engineering Center of Excellence at Westinghouse Electric Corporation and has held many other roles in nuclear fuel design and engineering. She holds a doctorate in materials science and engineering from the University of Michigan. 

INL is one of the DOE’s national laboratories. The laboratory performs work in each of DOE’s strategic goal areas: energy, national security, science and environment. INL is the nation’s leading center for nuclear energy research and development. Day-to-day management and operation of the laboratory is the responsibility of Battelle Energy Alliance. 

Cheng Sun awarded Russell L. Heath position

University Partnerships is proud to announce that the inaugural Russell L. Heath Distinguished Postdoctoral Associate position has been awarded to Cheng Sun. He will join INL in September to conduct research at the Materials & Fuels Complex under the direction of Jian Gan.

Russell L. Heath Distinguished Postdoctoral Associates must display extraordinary ability in scientific research and show clear promise of becoming outstanding leaders. This highly competitive appointment is intended to recognize and provide distinguished postdoctoral associates with experience, mentoring and training to develop their capabilities.

Sun earned his Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from Texas A&M University, a Master of Science in materials science and engineering from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, a Bachelor of Science in materials science and engineering from Huazhong University of Science and Technology, and is now a postdoctoral researcher with Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Sun’s research interests include advanced structural materials under irradiation environments, process-microstructure-mechanical property relationships of materials in extremes, the development of nanostructured materials for nuclear energy systems and the application of in situ techniques for structural materials research.
“We are pleased to welcome Cheng to INL. His innovative concepts and ambition will be an incredible asset and help to enable INL’s mission,” said Mark Peters, INL lab director. “Please welcome our first distinguished postdoctoral research associate.”

Watch for more information regarding Sun’s proposed research program.

Contact Jessica Dixon (526-9087) for more information on the Russell L. Heath Distinguished Postdoctoral Associate or other postdoc positions.

ATR transition earns sustainability award

The ATR "Transition from Diesel to Commercial Power with UPS Backup" modification project was recently selected to receive a 2016 Department of Energy Sustainability Award. The project transitioned critical electrical loads from 50-year-old diesel-powered generators to commercial power and an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS).

By replacing diesel power with electricity, INL is slashing its carbon footprint by 892 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent annually and expects fuel savings of $548,000 a year.

Last year, flagship construction magazine Engineering News-Record named this project the first-place winner in the energy-industrial category of its 2015 Best Projects competition for the mountain states. See pages one and four of the newsletter DOE Sustainability SPOtlight.

Stacey testifies before Senate subcommittee

Brent Stacey, INL National & Homeland Security associate laboratory director, testified before a Senate subcommittee July 12 on Senate Bill 3018, the Securing Energy Infrastructure Act. The Subcommittee for Energy of the Senate Committee on Energy and Resources is chaired by Idaho Sen. James Risch, who is a co-sponsor of SB 3018.

The hearing was webcast live on the committee’s website, and archived. You can find the video here at

Invitation to submit proposals

This is an invitation to submit joint proposals under the United States-Euratom International Energy Research Initiative (INERI) in support of the collaboration with Euratom for the research and development (R&D) objectives of the Department of Energy's Office of Nuclear Energy (DOE-NE).

The joint miniproposals submitted in response to this announcement must reflect collaborative arrangements for cooperative R&D involving at least one participant from the DOE national laboratories and/or U.S. universities and one participant from Euratom. The United States and Euratom participants must be funded under separate financial support from their countries and must identify such funding in the proposal. Collaborative arrangements may involve additional U.S. and Euratom federal and nonfederal organizations.

More information can be found here (International Nuclear Energy Research Initiative).

Please submit miniproposals/abstracts by close of business Sept. 1 to for internal review and approval. Final miniproposals/abstracts are due to DOE-NE Sept. 22.
September 2016
By Corey Taule

On Friday, July 15, Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s Leadership in Nuclear Energy (LINE) Commission met in Pocatello.

What resulted was a wide-ranging conversation of importance to Idaho National Laboratory employees. Here are the highlights:

• At the request of INL Director Mark Peters, the commission formed a subcommittee that will focus on small modular reactors (SMRs). Peters recommended the commission not wait until its next meeting in October to form this subcommittee, because of the fluidity of the proposed NuScale SMR project, which could be located at the INL Site and go online by 2024.

Peters will serve on this subcommittee, along with former INL Director John Grossenbacher, Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper and the chairman of the Idaho Legislature’s House Environment, Energy & Technology Committee, Rep. Jeff Thompson, R-Idaho Falls. Idaho Department of Commerce Director Megan Ronk will chair the SMR subcommittee.

• Commission member Steve Laflin will visit the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico and report back to the LINE Commission during its October meeting in Moscow. Laflin is president and CEO of International Isotopes Inc. WIPP has been closed since 2014, but the Obama Administration has indicated it could reopen before the end of this year.

• Jack Zimmerman, the Department of Energy’s deputy manager for the Idaho Cleanup Project, updated the commission on the status of the Integrated Waste Treatment Unit (IWTU). Zimmerman said he believed it would be “months, not years,” before the plant becomes operational. He said it is not clear when IWTU will begin treating the last 900,000 gallons of liquid, sodium-bearing waste at INL.

• INL Director Mark Peters told the commission the lab has renegotiated a nuclear fuel research project with South Korea. Peters said lab researchers have begun the project using existing fuel at the lab. That fuel, however, doesn’t have the same characteristics as fuel INL wants to import from an Illinois reactor. He said INL needs to receive the 100-pound fuel shipment from that Illinois reactor as soon as possible to keep the project moving forward.

Attorney General Lawrence Wasden has blocked importation of that shipment until IWTU begins processing liquid waste.

• Premier Technology CEO Doug Sayer talked about workforce development and the challenges companies face in finding employees with the skills necessary to work in nuclear fields. Sayer said more on-the-job training is needed for nuclear employees.

Out of this discussion, LINE Commission Co-chairman Brad Little moved to establish an ad-hoc committee that will explore the opportunity for more flexibility within education priorities.

• Fred Hughes, site manager for Fluor Idaho, provided an update on the transition of the cleanup contract.

• Three LINE members, Grossenbacher, Casper and Talia Martin, an environmental scientist with the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, offered their impressions of the July 14 DOE meeting in Boise on consent-based siting.

The LINE Commission will next meet Oct. 14 in Moscow. Members will receive a refresher on Idaho’s 1995 Settlement Agreement with the federal government. The commission will then discuss the impact the agreement has on research conducted at the lab.

Zimmerman will speak about possible alternative uses for the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project (AMWTP) at INL. The SMR and education committees will report to the full commission. And members of LINE 2.0 will review recommendations made by their predecessors on LINE 1.0.
September 2016
By Jamie Cookson for INL Public Affairs and Strategic Initiatives

Around mid-May, cries of “Everybody hold on, because intern season is here!” can be heard throughout Idaho National Laboratory as high school, college, graduate and postgraduate students immerse themselves in various fields.

Each year, the lab accepts roughly 350 interns from across the U.S. and foreign countries, hailing from various academic backgrounds. Nuclear engineering is a common field of study for INL interns, but the lab also attracts students who specialize in chemical engineering, communications, statistics, construction management and computer science, to name a few.

The internship program is crucial to INL’s mission in developing the next-generation workforce, and enables interns to gain valuable experience in their respective fields.

Some INL interns don’t have far to travel. Students from Idaho’s universities (Idaho State, University of Idaho, Boise State and Brigham Young University-Idaho) can be found throughout INL’s in-town facilities and the lab’s 890-square-mile desert Site.
Others, however, cross oceans to get here.

Han Bao came to the U.S. from Hubei, China, in 2013 after receiving his master’s from Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Bao attends North Carolina State University (NCSU), where he is working toward his Ph.D. in nuclear engineering, with a focus on thermal hydraulics and reactor safety analysis. 

This is Bao’s second summer interning at INL. He came to the laboratory because of a collaboration between INL and NCSU that deals with ensuring the safe operation of nuclear reactors during accidents.

“I do lots of modeling and accident simulations, particularly those based on the design of BWRs (boiling water reactors), so that we have adequate knowledge of reactor safety and accident mitigation strategies,” Bao said. 

Bao has thoroughly enjoyed his time at INL because of the opportunity to communicate and work with experienced colleagues who deal with real and practical problems in the industry, which complements the academic world of research that consumes most of his time at school.

“Every moment at INL has been invaluable to me, not only for the promotion of my research, but for the future of my career,” he said.

Outside of work, he plays soccer weekly with a group of INL interns, employees and locals, as he is an avid fan of the sport. Also, Bao has taken advantage of the many natural wonders available to those living in this part of the country.

“I’ve been to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons,” Bao said. “I’ve visited them multiple times. I like the peace and harmony between people and nature.”

After he completes his doctorate, Bao would like to work at a national laboratory or university as an engineer or scientist.
“Nuclear energy is one of the most important and relevant forms of clean energy, and the issue of nuclear safety has always been of the utmost concern,” Bao said. “I feel obligated to do my part in solving these issues.”
September 2016