Idaho National Laboratory Names Director and Deputy Director of the National Reactor Innovation Center

Oct 9, 2019


Idaho National Laboratory (INL) has named Dr. Ashley Finan and Nicholas Smith as the first director and deputy director of its new Nuclear Reactor Innovation Center (NRIC). Earlier this year, the Office of Nuclear Energy at the Department of Energy (DOE) announced the launch of the Nuclear Reactor Innovation Center at INL to serve as a demonstration center for advanced nuclear technologies. Idaho National Laboratory is the primary federal laboratory for nuclear industry research in the United States.

The NRIC was authorized by the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act signed into law by President Trump in 2018. The law intends to eliminate financial and technical barriers to nuclear innovation by providing private sector technology developers the necessary support to test their reactor concepts and assess their performance. The NRIC will focus on demonstration and is meant to work in partnership with DOE’s existing Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) program, which provides access to the technical, regulatory, and financial support to move nuclear reactor technology toward commercialization.

Before being appointed to direct the NRIC, Dr. Finan served as the executive director of the Nuclear Innovation Alliance, a nonprofit thinktank. Smith comes to INL after 10-years at Southern Company, most recently serving as the principal engineer. The House Energy and Water Development Committee has authorized $5 million to be spent on NRIC in FY2020, and while the House Appropriations Committee has allotted the program $5 million in its bill, the Senate Appropriations Committee has proposed only $1 million for NRIC. FY2020 funding has not yet been finalized and ASME will continue to monitor the process as Congress works to finalize FY2020 appropriations.

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