New ARPA-E program to fund $20M for advanced nuclear power research
The Department of Energy announced $20 million for funding as part of a new Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program on nuclear power research.
The Modeling-Enhanced Innovations Trailblazing Nuclear Energy Reinvigoration (MEITNER) program aims to develop technologies for lower-cost and safer advanced nuclear reactors.
The program will work in coordination with the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy to leverage new manufacturing processes and technologies to increase the competitiveness of nuclear power.
The ARPA-E funding comes at a turbulent time for nuclear energy and the popular DOE program itself. In June, a study from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found that ARPA-E was in danger of being phased out by the Trump administration.
Nuclear power itself is facing unprecedented challenges with the cancellation of SCANA’s V.C. Summer nuclear project in South Carolina and cost overruns for the only remaining nuclear project under construction, Southern Co.’s Vogtle project, because of Westinghouse Electric’s bankruptcy.
The new ARPA-E funding program aims to address at least some of those challenges. “When ARPA-E examined the challenges facing nuclear energy, we found an important opportunity to support the advanced reactor design community with early-stage technologies that could enable the development of safer and less expensive plants,” ARPA-E Acting Director Eric Rohlfing, said in a statement.
Rohlfing said the MEITNER projects would develop technologies to accelerate fabrication and testing and make construction cheaper, while using automation and built-in safety measures to reduce operational costs.
Follow Peter Maloney on Twitter