Support for US nuclear universities

17 June 2009

The USA is to invest in a range of university nuclear programs in the latest round of spending. Almost $9 million will go to 29 universities and 86 scholars to support the "important zero-carbon energy source."


Speaking more strongly in favour of nuclear energy than usual, energy secretary Steven Chu linked the nuclear research he was supporting to energy independence and achieving climate change goals. The money is being awarded under the Nuclear Energy Universities Program and follows a $44 million announcement last month.


Seventy undergraduate scholarships are to be funded by the Department of Energy at $5000 each, with 16 fellowships for graduate students at $150,000 each. The University of Michigan will host 13 of the scholarships, with eight each going to North Carolina State University and the University of Illinois and Ohio State seven.


Capability enhancement for the 29 establishments cover a wide range, including electron microscopy, radiochemistry equipment and sensing, counting and instrumentation. Among the more significant infrastructure improvements are a flow visualization lab to promote research in advanced reactor designs at Texas A&M University and a fully digital control system for the training reactor at the University of Florida.


Chu said: "We need to ensure that the next generation of nuclear scientists and engineers have the training they need to research, design, build and operate, and maintain US nuclear power plants. Investing in these students' educations and the necessary infrastructure and equipment at their universities will help keep the United States at the research forefront for this important zero-carbon energy source."