INL Resilience Optimization Center

Our Expertise

INL ROC’s multi-disciplinary team leverages world-class research, facilities, and capabilities to analyze the state of system resilience and develop unique, value-conscious, and mission-driven solutions.

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Areas of Expertise


Cyber Systems

Cyber Security & Resilience Assessments

Expansion of the internet, digital-control systems, and wireless-device connectivity has created a paradox – more efficient and effective operations, but dramatically increased cyberattack vector surfaces. INL cybersecurity researchers leverage cyberterrorist and hacker methods to help our customers protect themselves, their businesses, and their stakeholders. INL works with a broad range of industries and vendors to develop mitigation techniques and tools, supported by our vast infrastructure test range, to reduce the cyber vulnerabilities found in many of the nation’s critical infrastructures.


Cyber-Informed Engineering

Consequence-driven Cyber-informed Engineering (CCE) provides a method for discovering the information needed to calculate cyber risk to critical operations and manage it with engineered solutions that disrupt a physical cyberattack. CCE employs a four-step process for safeguarding critical operations that includes: consequence prioritization, system-of-systems breakdown, consequence-based targeting, and mitigations and protection plans to remove or disrupt the digital-attack vectors as much as possible. With CCE, INL fully leverages an organization’s deep engineering and operations expertise, including detailed systems and process knowledge to engineer out the cyber risks.

Cyber-Informed Engineering

Cyber-informed engineering (CIE) incorporates cyber security thinking into engineering decisions to maximize the potential for engineering out cyber risks to industrial systems. CIE contains the following elements:

• Consequence/Impact Analysis
• Systems Architecture
• Engineered Controls
• Design Simplification
• Resilience Planning
• Engineering Information Control
• Procurement and Contracting
• Interdependencies
• Cybersecurity Culture
• Digital Asset Inventory
• Active Process Defense

A white paper and maturity model are available for entities to use for measuring and increasing their ability to mitigate cyber risks.

Cyber Supply Chain

INL’s Component Analysis for Industrial Control Systems research area examines the potential vulnerabilities within the hardware and software components incorporated into industrial-control and operational-technology systems. These vulnerabilities can weaken the security of an overall system and cause catastrophic failure. Because these components may be used for multiple systems from multiple vendors, we analyze the potential for common-mode vulnerabilities. Using the laboratory’s deep reverse-engineering expertise, the team identifies common-mode vulnerabilities and develops mitigations to share with vendors and asset owners. INL experts can also recommend improvements to digital supply-chain practices.

Incident Response

INL’s Site contains components that are representative of U.S. critical infrastructure, including power distribution, transportation (road and rail), communication (wired and wireless), and urban and rural terrains. We provide radiological training for weapons of mass destruction (WMD) incident response field exercises, and we are approved for chemical and biological simulants and radiological sources for realistic, scenario-based training. Staff available for training exercises include an on-site fire department, hazmat emergency responders, and medical, physical and craft support.

5G Security and Resilience

Fifth generation (5G) cellular technologies promise enormously faster speeds than currently deployed 4G/LTE systems. Current estimates indicate that 5G could become available by 2020, and now is the time to begin planning, adapting, and analyzing impacts on future national energy operations and security. Because 5G technology depends on 4G/LTE infrastructure, as well as all interconnected communications media (fiber, microwave, cable, satellite), INL’s Wireless Test Bed is well-positioned to address these challenges. INL sets up real-world 5G scenarios to test, demonstrate, measure and analyze the performance, as well as provide real-world data to validate standards and expedite the development of 5G technologies.

Intelligent Instrumentation and Control Cyber State Awareness and Resilient Design

Cyber State Awareness & Resilient Design

A resilient control system maintains an accepted level of operational normalcy in response to disturbances, including malicious threats. Dynamic probabilistic risk analysis mechanisms that can link human reliability with the system state are still maturing. The variability of an adversary’s intellectual level, background, objective, and motives makes stochastic methods unusable. In addition, the adversary has an advantage when existing control system architecture is not random, and response characteristics are reproducible. Therefore, a resilient design offers strength by becoming atypical of normal control system architectural design. Active recognition, coupled with modification and obfuscation of the environment, provides resilience to attack.

Autonomic Intelligent Cyber Sensor

Autonomic Intelligent Cyber Sensor (AICS) works autonomously using machine learning to give industries the power to quickly identify and divert hackers from industrial control systems. It can identify anomalous network traffic, alert operators, and deploy virtual decoys to slow or halt hacking attempts. Following installation and an initial learning phase, AICS automatically updates what it knows about a control system, adapting and remapping as it goes. AICS sets up and continually updates decoy virtual hosts – honeypots – to distract attackers from targets, giving asset owners the ability and time to gather information that can help identify both a hacking threat and a potentially compromised system.

Full Scale Infrastructure Testing

Wireless Test Bed

INL’s Wireless Test Bed provides industrial, commercial, and academic users with access to the full capacity of INL’s wireless resources. With suitable sponsorship, academic institutions interested in openly published work may perform research, experimentation, and testing at minimal cost. INL personnel are leading efforts in standards committees and special interest groups regarding wireless innovation; public safety and disaster recovery communications; spectrum sharing research databases and formats; and security vulnerabilities in commercial wireless systems.

Water Security Test Bed

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established the Water Security Test Bed (WSTB) at INL to inform responses to disasters that interrupt domestic water supplies. About 450 feet of eight-inch piping is assembled above ground to simulate a full-scale distribution system. Researchers can easily modify the system and contain any nefarious agents that may be injected into the pipe as part of an experiment. A typical experiment involves injecting a biological or chemical agent followed by flushing, chlorination, or other decontamination methods.

Explosive Test Range

The complex consists of eight indoor and outdoor ranges as well as tactical training facilities located on 330 acres of isolated, desert-type terrain. The facilities support R&D, training and testing of handguns, rifles, and heavy weapons such as machine guns, precision rifles, grenade launchers and shoulder-fired, anti-armor weapons. Explosive training and testing, including breaching, is also conducted. INL develops bulk explosives-detection technologies, including development and demonstration of the Idaho Explosives Detection System (IEDS) for cargo-truck inspections at entry points to Department of Defense facilities.

Power Grid Test Bed

INL facilities are spread across 890 square miles in clusters similar to modern cities and other environments. Due to this, INL operates its own electrical power transmission and distribution system. The 61-mile, 138-kV dual-fed power loop comes complete with seven substations and a control center, all linked with state-of-the-art communications and instrumentation capabilities. Portions of the power loop can be isolated and reconfigured for independent, specialized testing.

Microgrid Test Bed

INL’s microgrid test bed includes solar panels, energy-storage devices, load banks, smart inverters, a power-distribution system and multiple switchgear sets. It also includes smart-home components such as appliances and other loads that can dynamically adjust their electricity demand. The system’s load-control capabilities and grid-interaction algorithms allow researchers to study demand response, peak-shaving and ancillary services, and to test component interactions, performance, controls and integration challenges.

Unmanned Aerial Systems Test Range

With its access-controlled boundary, high-desert terrain and sparse population, INL’s desert Site is in a unique position to test and demonstrate the collaborative operations of unmanned aerial and ground vehicles. INL’s UAS program focuses on singular applications and missions for a variety of customers looking for affordable, field-deployable airframe technologies with meaningful payload and endurance. The lab’s UAS training is designed to ensure that unmanned aerial vehicles are used properly throughout the Department of Energy and its National Nuclear Security Administration. The range also supports implementation of new legislation regarding protection of critical infrastructure.

Nuclear & Radiological Activity Center

The Nuclear and Radiological Activity Center (NRAC) is where nuclear research, technology evaluation, and training capabilities come together to provide access and support to nuclear nonproliferation programs. INL’s radiological facilities and expansive Site provide an unprecedented environment for research, demonstration, and realistic training exercises aligned with today’s national security challenges. NRAC programs offer unprecedented adaptability with access to special nuclear materials, unique infrastructure, capabilities and nuclear expertise.

Emergency Planning and Response

Emergency Management

INL’s Emergency Management organization responds to emergencies at INL facilities. It implements immediate actions to ensure the health and safety of workers and the public, property, the environment and national security. It also implements INL’s Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP). The COOP ensures that, during a continuity event, INL can deliver its primary mission essential function (PMEF) to maintain the safety and security of special nuclear material at INL under extreme conditions. INL must have the ability to continue its PMEF up to 30 to 60 days despite circumstances that may limit access to resources including personnel, facilities, information systems and communications.

Radiological Response Test Range

As the nation’s lead nuclear energy research lab, INL employs world-renowned nuclear scientists, engineers and nonproliferation experts who lead immersive, hands-on responder training. Field activities can involve the strategic placement of radioactive sources to practice in conditions similar to real deployment. The laboratory’s 890-square-mile Site can be used for large-scale interagency technology and capability demonstrations. Students also have access to nuclear facilities including operating reactors, hot cells and analytical laboratories inside a controlled location that provides a safe and secure environment for training.

Infrastructure Systems

Cyberattacks on critical infrastructure are becoming more strategic and targeted. INL is addressing challenges for overlapping sectors of the energy system (power grid, oil and gas, nuclear, transportation), defense-critical infrastructure and mission platforms, and the common systems embedded in all physical processes and infrastructures. Capabilities range from wireless communications, power and controls to experts and tools that can help partners strategically realign their control system’s cybersecurity posture. INL maintains full-scale research infrastructure — including an isolated power grid along with water and telecommunication distribution systems — which can replicate a region or municipality.

Vulnerability and Risk Analysis

Regional Assessments

INL conducts voluntary, nonregulatory, cooperative assessments of specific critical infrastructure within a designated geographic area. Combined with a regional analysis of the surrounding infrastructure, INL experts can address a range of infrastructure resilience issues that could have regionally and nationally significant consequences. The goal is to resolve infrastructure-security and resilience-knowledge gaps, inform risk-management decisions, and identify opportunities and strategies to enhance infrastructure resilience.INL conducts voluntary, non-regulatory, cooperative assessments of specific critical infrastructure within a designated geographic area. Combined with a regional analysis of the surrounding infrastructure, INL experts can address a range of infrastructure resilience issues that could have regionally and nationally significant consequences. The goal is to resolve infrastructure security and resilience knowledge gaps, inform risk management decisions, and identify opportunities and strategies to enhance infrastructure resilience.

All Hazards Analysis

The All Hazards Analysis Knowledge Framework (AHA) is a dynamic analytical framework that enables the discovery of critical infrastructure knowledge and decision-making support across the five mission areas – prevention, protection, mitigation, response and recovery. AHA provides the ability to store and model infrastructure systems as linked multigraphs providing an intuitive and natural representation. This capability provides the foundation to rapidly evaluate and understand the potential consequences of man-made and natural disasters on these systems.

Probabilistic Risk Assessment and SAPHIRE

INL experts developed SAPHIRE more than 20 years ago for the Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). SAPHIRE creates and analyzes probabilistic risk assessments (PRA), primarily for nuclear power plants, but for other systems as well. Basic events — different parts and pieces that can fail in each system — can be pumps or valves in a nuclear plant, computers, or batteries on a space shuttle. SAPHIRE can evaluate thousands of basic events and produce different possible failure scenarios. INL acts as a software developer and interface to the user community, including training and technology transfer.

Critical Infrastructure Security

INL takes a multidisciplinary approach to address infrastructure protection and resilience, control-systems cybersecurity and risk management. The lab’s holistic risk management and mitigation approach uses infrastructure-visualization tools, geospatial technologies, modeling and simulation, vulnerability assessment and informed incident response.

Integrated Energy Solutions

The Dynamic Energy Transport and Integration Laboratory

INL is linking three functional elements to understand the technical issues of integrated energy systems that directly use the excess heat rejected from electricity-generation plants. The Dynamic Energy Transport and Integration Laboratory (DETAIL) will initially integrate a grid simulator with an electrically heated nuclear plant simulator that will generate heat for a steam-electrolysis station making hydrogen. Advanced integrated energy systems such as this could couple nuclear, renewable and fossil-energy sources to produce electrical and nonelectrical energy products. Such systems offer efficiencies that can lead to energy independence, economic competitiveness, job creation and smarter use of resources.

Joint Use Modular Plant

The Joint Use Modular Plant (JUMP) will perform nuclear-
energy research using the first reactor module planned for the Carbon Free Power Project (CFPP), a small modular nuclear power plant being built on the INL Site in the mid-2020s. The module will support research and development into storage of thermal energy, integration with other energy sources, and potentially, hydrogen production and desalination. It will allow researchers to understand the impacts of interfacing these technologies with a full-scale nuclear plant.

Forward Deployable Microgrid

Military bases require reliable power with backup systems that can take over if the primary grid is interrupted. Diesel generators can provide such backup. However, as bases incorporate more renewable sources such as wind and solar, the resulting swings in usage can stress generators and shorten their life spans. Such bases look to INL’s experts for solutions. The lab has expertise in renewable-resource assessment, grid integration, and resilient power systems. INL’s engineers welcome the opportunity to move those concepts from the lab setting to real-world demonstrations. This will provide technical input and guidance for more than 25 Department of Defense projects all over the United States and abroad.

Connected Vehicles and Charging Infrastructure

The transportation sector is on the verge of dramatic change. Rapid technology development and evolving consumer preferences are enabling market penetration of autonomous, connected, electric and shared (ACES) mobility. INL is studying how the electrification and automation of a wide array of vehicle types will affect critical infrastructure and grid resilience. INL’s state-of-the-art Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Laboratory and Real-Time Power & Energy Systems Laboratory enable cutting-edge research into intelligent, secure integration of future mobility with the grid. This includes understanding, prioritizing and mitigating cybersecurity risks of ACES mobility and connected infrastructure.

Energy Storage Laboratory

INL’s Battery Test Center can test everything from watch-size batteries to full-size vehicle battery packs. Data from the laboratory is recognized as some of the most objective and accurate available. INL battery research combines real-world applications and laboratory test data into reliable information for researchers, designers and industry. Outcomes ensure that different technologies have the power and energy necessary to meet performance expectations and needs over their expected lifetimes. Analyses evaluate the ability to meet demands and key-technology or materials-science gaps that could limit performance.

Modeling & Simulation

Hardware in the Loop

INL can incorporate real-world data, hardware and software into real-time simulations. Hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) testing is a critical step in assessing behavior in an isolated environment before field deployment. Digital real-time simulation (DRTS), which calculates dynamic grid behavior quickly enough to couple a digital model with physical hardware, can be applied to both controllers and devices. The paradigm enables rapid prototyping of new hardware and assesses the impacts of existing component reconfiguration. The prototyping process includes defining grid architecture (e.g., a specific distribution system) and contingency events (e.g., loss of a major generator or transmission line).

Resilience Laboratory

INL’s Resilient Control & Instrumentation Systems (ReCIS) research develops components, programs, systems and individuals for any application that requires monitoring, control and human interaction. ReCIS has a range of research facilities and test beds dedicated to sensors, control and intelligent-systems research. The laboratory offers a variety of test beds for control-system research. These test beds can aid complex evaluation of control-system designs for cybersecurity, advanced control, and operational verification and validation.

Human Factors, Controls and Statistics

INL’s Human Factors, Controls and Statistics Department is an international leader in applying scientific methods, techniques and tools to address the performance and operational challenges of mission-critical industries. Its experts employ specialized methods and state-of-the-art data analysis and modeling tools to support diverse customers in mission-critical industries. Such support improves decision-making, operational performance, evaluation of technology options, reliability of humans and systems, and reduction of error.

Supply Chain Optimization

With expertise in operational research and systems modeling, our team has conducted analyses on diverse topics, including biomass feedstock blending, transportation systems, and critical-materials supply chains. We offer a wide range of solutions, including optimal location of a processing unit within a supply-chain network (e.g., biorefinery, depot, charging station), optimal blending of inputs to achieve desired specifications for outputs, and impact quantification of changing supply-chain configurations. Engineers use various modeling approaches, such as network-flow optimization, stochastic analysis, agent-based modeling, process modeling and system dynamics modeling. Optimization has been done at national, regional and local scales. These solutions have informed investment decisions and policymaking.

Natural Phenomena Modeling

INL developed open-source software to optimize the safety and cost of seismic design for structures. Using a patented 3D seismic simulation methodology, realistic numerical models, state-of-the-art seismic risk-calculation tools, and optimization algorithms, the software helps engineers and critical-infrastructure owners design earthquake-safe structures while reducing the total cost. Users include the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, which operates nearly 180 hydroelectric and irrigation dams in the Western United States.

Complex Engineering Systems

Systems engineering is a holistic engineering discipline that provides systems analysis, systems integration, decision analysis, and systems-science products and expertise to help government and private-industry customers develop successful solutions to complex challenges. These interdisciplinary methodologies focus on defining and documenting customer needs and required functionality early in the development cycle, and then proceeding with design-synthesis and system-validation activities while considering the comprehensive problem. Systems engineering considers both the business and the technical needs of all customers, with the goal of providing a quality product that meets the user’s needs on time and within established budgets.

Visualization and Scientific Computing

High-Performance Computing

Through the deployment of high-performance computing systems, high-speed parallel data storage, high-speed network systems, and software consulting, INL enables science that matters. Modeling and simulation allow researchers to better understand materials, predict behavior of complex systems, and discover new technologies. Conforming with best practices in other industries, the energy industry relies on computer modeling and simulation to understand performance and optimize design characteristics of complex systems such as nuclear reactors. INL resources include an SGI supercomputer system named Falcon that can perform 511 trillion mathematical operations every second.

Geospatial Analysis and Visualization


INL’s geospatial capabilities include both software developers and geospatial analysts. Together they develop innovative, custom applications to meet data-access, visualization, sharing, and analytical needs that consist of web-based, stand-alone and enterprise-level systems. Analysts are working to enhance information-visualization capabilities for making quick and effective decisions. By integrating data into visual displays, spatial and temporal relationships, patterns and trends can be more easily identified. Experience spans data capture, processing and analysis associated with data collected from multiple satellite-based and airborne image and spectral collection systems.

Multiphysics Simulation Environment

INL’s Multiphysics Object Oriented Simulation Environment (MOOSE) makes modeling and simulation more accessible to a broad array of scientists. MOOSE enables simulation tools to be developed in a fraction of the time previously required. This tool has revolutionized predictive modeling because scientists seeking a new simulation capability don’t need to recruit a team of computational experts versed in, for example, parallel code development. Researchers can focus their efforts on the mathematical models for their field, and MOOSE does the rest. The simplicity has bred a herd of modeling applications describing phenomena in nuclear physics, geology, chemistry, engineering and many other fields.