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Idaho National Lab dedicates new facility

The Idaho National Labortory took a big step forward in expanding its Research and Education Campus in Idaho Falls, dedicating its new Energy System Laboratory on Tuesday.

Scientists say they will be able to do research that will make the United States a more energy-efficient nation.

The new lab will house three areas of research.

First, researchers will explore bioenergy. The goal is to develop ways to create efficient fuels out of things like grass and wood chips, which might eventually power cars.

Second, battery testing will be a big focus with a large emphasis on electric vehicles.

Hybrid energy systems will make up the third research compnonent. Researchers will explore the best ways to integrate clean energy, such as wind and solar power, with the current grid and other forms of energy.

INL Director John Grossenbacher believes this research will accomplish a huge amount.

“What happens if we combine fossil, renewables and nuclear in creative ways? Not just to produce energy, but to produce fuels, industrial feed stocks to make plastics and many of the other things our lifestyle and society depends upon,” Grossenbacher said.

Lab officials said U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, R – Idaho, played a major role in securing funding and support to continue the expansion of the INL.

“It’s important to grow the capabilities and capacities of INL because it’s an important part of southeast Idaho and our nation and our energy future,” Simpson said.

Grossenbacher said he believes the new Energy System Laboratory will create a lot of jobs in eastern Idaho, but he’s not sure exactly how many.

Ground first broke on the facility in Feb. 2011.

Researchers are not quite done moving in, but the lab is currently operating.

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