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Idaho test reactor is pivotal in US nuclear power strategy

By KEITH RIDLERDecember 15, 2018
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This Nov. 29, 2018 photo shows the Transient Test Reactor at the Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho Falls, in eastern Idaho. The facility has been restarted to test nuclear fuels as the U.S. tries to revamp a fading nuclear power industry with safer fuel designs and a new generation of power plants. (AP Photo/Keith Riddler)
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This Nov. 29, 2018 photo shows the Transient Test Reactor at the Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho Falls, in eastern Idaho. The facility has been restarted to test nuclear fuels as the U.S. tries to revamp a fading nuclear power industry with safer fuel designs and a new generation of power plants. (AP Photo/Keith Riddler)

IDAHO NATIONAL LABORATORY, Idaho (AP) — A nuclear test reactor that can melt uranium fuel rods in seconds is running again after a near quarter-century shutdown as U.S. officials try to revamp a fading nuclear power industry with safer fuel designs and a new generation of power plants.

Officials say 10 nuclear fuel tests have gone smoothly at the Transient Reactor Test Facility at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory in eastern Idaho since its restart late last year.

It’s part of a strategy to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by increasing nuclear power initiated under the Obama administration and continuing under the Trump administration.

Officials say the Idaho test reactor could help develop accident-tolerant fuels and more efficient nuclear plants needed to replace aging plants that produce 20 percent of the nation’s energy.

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