DOE invests $60 million to advance nuclear power technology

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The Department of Energy announced more than $60 million in nuclear energy research and infrastructure enhancement awards. About 68 projects from across the country were selected based on their potential to create scientific breakthroughs that both help strengthen the nation’s energy security and reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

“I remain convinced that nuclear energy will continue to be an important part of the nation’s energy portfolio, accounting for more than 60 percent of carbon-free electricity in the United States today,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “These awards provide essential funding for nuclear energy-related research and thereby support the long term health of our domestic nuclear energy industry.”

As part of the announcement, the DOE is awarding over $31 million to 43 university-led nuclear energy research and development projects across 23 states to develop innovative technologies and solutions through its Nuclear Energy University Program (NEUP). Nearly $3.5 million will also be awarded to nine universities for research reactor and infrastructure improvements — providing safety, performance and student education related upgrades to many of the nation’s 25 university research reactors to enhance university research and training infrastructure.

With these awards, the DOE continues its successful nuclear energy research collaboration with the United Kingdom. Four of the NEUP projects include UK research collaborators who will receive an additional $2.6 million from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the UK's main agency for funding research in engineering and the physical sciences.

The DOE is also awarding $13 million for four integrated research projects that will deliver solutions to high priority nuclear energy research challenges, the development of accident tolerant fuel options for near term applications, benchmarking for transient fuel testing, and approaches to dry cask inspection and nondestructive evaluation.

Additionally, $8.5 million will be awarded for 10 research and development projects in support of the Nuclear Energy Enabling Technologies Crosscutting Technology Development Program to address crosscutting nuclear energy challenges. Two additional infrastructure enhancement totaling over $1 million will be awarded to DOE national laboratories to further reactor materials and instrumentation research.

For the first time, the DOE has also fully integrated its competitive nuclear energy research award process with its competitive process for providing no-cost access to state-of-the-art experimental neutron and ion irradiation testing, post-irradiation examination facilities, synchrotron beamline capabilities, and technical assistance for design and analysis of experiments via its Nuclear Science User Facilities (NSUF).

As a result, the DOE has competitively selected and will fully fund the cost of access to NSUF capabilities to support three university-led and one national laboratory-led projects that will investigate important nuclear fuel and material applications. The value of the tfacilities access announced today exceeds $3 million.

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