US proposed budget supports nuclear projects

14 March 2024

The US Administration's 2025 budget request includes nearly USD1.6 billion for the Department of Energy's Office of Nuclear Energy, with support for securing supplies of high-assay low-enriched uranium, developing new reactor technologies, supporting R&D, advancing the use of additive manufacturing and AI, and deploying US reactors overseas.

(Image: Office of Nuclear Energy)

The comprehensive budget request submitted by the president to the US Congress outlines the Administration’s policy and funding priorities and the economic outlook for the coming fiscal year, compiled with input from the various federal agencies. It is then considered by both House and Senate, with both legislative chambers holding hearings and creating their own budget resolutions, which must be negotiated and merged before final approval by Congress. The US fiscal year begins on 1 October.

The budget request for the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Nuclear Energy includes USD188 million to secure a near-term supply of high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) for DOE-supported research and demonstration projects, such as the recovery and downblending of government-owned legacy uranium and ramping up enrichment operations in Piketon, Ohio, to help make limited quantities available.

The request also includes USD142.5 million to support the continued execution of five advanced reactor projects supported through DOE’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program, and USD56 million to establish new testing facilities at US national laboratories. This includes USD12 million to finish the construction of the NRIC DOME microreactor test bed at Idaho National Laboratory, which the Office of Nuclear Energy says could start testing designs as soon as 2026; USD16.5 million to complete the fabrication of fuel and key components for the MARVEL microreactor testing platform; and USD18 million to initiate construction of the LOTUS testbed.

The Office of Nuclear Energy is also requesting USD143 million to support university R&D; USD32 million to advance the use of digital tools and manufacturing methods such as artificial intelligence and additive manufacturing to strengthen nuclear supply chains, and USD8 million for projects to support the international deployment of US reactor technology.

The Office of Nuclear Energy's request is part of the DOE's wider budget request which also includes USD8.5 billion to support clean energy research and innovation. USD845 million of this is earmarked for a Department-wide initiative to accelerate the viability of commercial fusion energy, coordinating academia, national laboratories, and the private sector, in support of the Bold Decadal Vision for Commercial Fusion Energy which was announced by the DOE in 2022.

"The FY 2025 Budget provides the Department with critical resources to transform the President's historic clean energy investments into reality - as we continue to lay the building blocks for an inclusive clean energy economy that lifts up all communities across the country, while tackling the climate crisis head-on," Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News