US Department of Energy funding for nuclear R&D

08 June 2015

Sixty-eight projects have been selected to share over $60 million of US Department of Energy (DOE) nuclear energy research and infrastructure enhancement awards. The projects, including some international collaborations, have been selected for their potential to create scientific breakthroughs.

About $31 million is being awarded to 43 university-led nuclear energy research and development projects through the Nuclear Energy University Programs (NEUP). Around $3.5 million will fund research reactor and infrastructure improvements at nine universities, including upgrades to research reactors at Kansas State University, the University of Florida, the University of Missouri, Columbia and the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

The areas covered by the R&D awards include fuel cycle research and development, reactor concepts research development and demonstration, and nuclear energy advanced modelling and simulation, as well as supporting functions such as cyber security. Four of the NEUP projects involve UK-based collaborators, and will receive a further £1.7 million ($2.6 million) of funding from the UK's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

Four integrated research projects based at the Colorado School of Mines, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Oregon State University and the University of Mississippi will receive a total of $13 million. These projects aim to deliver solutions to high priority nuclear energy research challenges, including the development of accident tolerant fuel options for near-term applications, benchmarking for transient fuel testing, and approaches to dry cask inspection and non-destructive evaluation techniques.

Ten research projects, including some led by national laboratories and companies as well as universities, will receive more than $8.5 million under the Nuclear Energy Enabling Technologies Research & Development (NEET) program. These projects "address crosscutting nuclear energy challenges", according to the DOE, in areas including advanced methods for manufacturing, advanced sensors and instrumentation, reactor materials, cyber security and testing techniques. A further $1 million is of infrastructure awards will be made to the Brookhaven and Idaho National Laboratories to fund facilities to support the work, including a new user facility for X-ray diffraction-computed tomography (XRD-CT) on materials for nuclear energy systems.

More than $3 million of funding will cover the cost of access to facilities including experimental neutron and ion irradiation testing, post-irradiation examination facilities, synchrotron beamline capabilities, and technical assistance for design and analysis of experiments via the DOE's Nuclear Science User Facilities for four research projects at universities and the Idaho National Laboratory.

Announcing the funding, US Energy Secretary said he remained "convinced" of nuclear energy's ongoing role as a carbon-free contributor to the USA's energy portfolio. "These awards provide essential funding for nuclear energy-related research and thereby support the long term health of our domestic nuclear energy industry," he said.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News