GAIN awards vouchers for nuclear development

14 June 2016

Eight small businesses have been chosen to receive a share of a $2 million pilot project to help them access the US Department of Energy's (DOE's) nuclear energy-related knowledge and capabilities under the department's Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) initiative.

The Nuclear Energy Voucher Program's goal is to assist new entrants into the nuclear field to build the collaborations necessary to accelerate the development and deployment of innovative nuclear technologies. The funding is in the form of "vouchers" redeemable at DOE national laboratories or Nuclear Science User Facility (NSUF) partner facilities to obtain services or use facilities to help small businesses overcome critical technology and commercialization challenges. Vouchers cannot be used to obtain services or use equipment that is available in the private sector.

The DOE invited eligible small businesses to apply for the vouchers, worth from $50,000 to $300,000 each, in March. To be eligible, businesses needed to be organized for profit, have less than 500 employees, be majority-owned by a US citizen, and operate primarily within the USA. Selected recipients are required to provide at least 20% cost-share per voucher which can be in cash or "in kind" - for example labour, materials, equipment or data.

The eight businesses selected to receive vouchers are Creare, Columbia Basin Consulting Group, Terrestrial Energy USA, Transatomic Power Corporation, Ceramic Tubular Products, Oklo Inc, CompoRex and BgtL. They have been partnered with the DOE's Argonne, Idaho, Oak Ridge and Pacific Northwest national laboratories and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Proposals put forward by voucher recipients include the development of novel materials, reactor technologies and energy storage systems.

DOE Acting Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy John Kotek said the department looked forward to working with the recipients as they develop their innovative concepts. "In addition to this financial support, DOE will be fostering innovation by facilitating these groups' access to the extensive nuclear research capabilities hosted at DOE National Labs and our partners in the Nuclear Science User Facilities program," he said.

Kemal Pasamehmetoglu, director of the GAIN initiative and associate laboratory director for nuclear science and technology at Idaho National Laboratory, said that the partner laboratories had the facilities and capabilities needed to help make the voucher recipients' advanced nuclear technology concepts a reality. "The urgency and stakeholder support for these innovations has never been stronger," he said.

The GAIN initiative was launched in November 2015 to provide a way to fast-track nuclear innovation, providing stakeholders with a means of accessing DOE research and development infrastructure to help them meet the challenges of bringing new technologies towards engineering-scale demonstration. Earlier this year the DOE selected projects to develop a pebble bed reactor and a molten chloride fast reactor to receive multi-year cost-share funding worth up to a total of $80 million under the initiative.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News