- The U.S. Department of Energy this week announced it would be spending more than $82 million to support advanced nuclear energy research, with 93 projects in 28 states receiving awards that varied from facilities access to crosscutting technology development and infrastructure awards.
- Included in the funding is almost $36 million for DOE's Nuclear Energy University Program (NEUP) to support 49 university-led nuclear energy research and development projects in 24 states.
- The Department is also awarding $21 million for six integrated research projects, including a jointly-funded project between the Office of Nuclear Energy and the Office of Environmental Management. Also announced is almost $7 million to seven research and development projects led by Department of Energy national laboratories, industry and U.S. universities.
Despite market uncertainty—and the recent spate of nuclear plant closures—the U.S. government continues to support research into smaller, more secure and more advanced nuclear energy. This week's funding announcement indicates DOE is casting a wide net as it looks to boost the country's carbon-free generation.
“Nuclear power is our nation’s largest source of low-carbon electricity and is a vital component in our efforts to both provide affordable and reliable electricity and to combat climate change,” Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said in a statement. “These awards will help scientists and engineers as they continue to innovate with advanced nuclear technologies.”
In addition to funding for DOE's NEUP initiative, which provides science and engineering students and faculty members opportunities to develop innovative technologies and solutions for civil nuclear capabilities, the agency announced 15 universities will receive nearly $6 million to research reactor and infrastructure improvements.
The DOE's funding is a part of its Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear initiative, announced in November, to provide the nuclear energy community with access to technical, regulatory, and financial support.
As part of the funding, DOE made approximately $2 million available through the Nuclear Science User Facilities (NSUF) to provide access to world-class neutron and gamma irradiation and post-irradiation examination services to General Electric Hitachi. The project will cover the cost of placing selected material samples into a NSUF-affiliated nuclear reactor to analyze the effects of nuclear reactor irradiation on material property changes.
Crosscutting research will also examine: communication methods to demonstrate the ability to transmit greater amounts of data and other signals through physical boundaries in nuclear facilities. And seven projects will be awarded almost $7 million to develop advanced sensors and instrumentation, advanced manufacturing methods, and materials for multiple nuclear reactor plant and fuel applications.
DOE's Office of Nuclear Energy since 2009 has awarded approximately $464 million to 113 U.S. colleges and universities.