Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Energy Department announces more than $82 million in nuclear research funding

U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, left, and Idaho National Laboratory Director Mark Peters, during Moniz's INL visit on Tuesday. (Instagram photo by INL)
U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz used his visit to Idaho Falls Tuesday to announce more than $82 million is being awarded to nuclear energy research, development and infrastructure projects in 28 states. Overall, 93 projects have been selected to receive funding for nuclear energy-related research through the Nuclear Energy University Program, Nuclear Science User Facilities, and Nuclear Energy Enabling Technology programs. A number of recipients will also receive technical and regulatory assistance through the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) initiative.

“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,” Moniz said, visiting INL facilities with lab director Mark Peters and giving opening remarks at the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board meeting at the Energy Innovation Laboratory building on University Boulevard. “These awards will help scientists and engineers as they continue to innovate with advanced nuclear technologies.”

DOE is awarding nearly $36 million through its Nuclear Energy University Program (NEUP) to support 49 university-led nuclear energy research and development projects in 24 states. NEUP seeks to maintain U.S. leadership in nuclear research across the country by providing top science and engineering students and faculty members opportunities to develop innovative technologies and solutions for non-military nuclear capabilities.

Additionally, 15 universities will receive nearly $6 million for research reactor and infrastructure improvements – providing important safety- performance- and student education-related upgrades to a portion of the nation’s 25 university research reactors as well as enhancing university research and training infrastructure.

The awards are part of the first steps to implement the GAIN initiative that was announced November 2015, which provides the nuclear energy community with access to the technical, regulatory, and financial support necessary to move new or advanced nuclear reactor designs toward commercialization while ensuring the continued safe, reliable, and economic operation of existing nuclear facilities.

These awards complement the Office of Nuclear Energy’s Small Business Voucher Program, which will provide up to $2 million this year to help small businesses overcome critical nuclear technology and commercialization challenges. Of the eight vouchers announced, one involves INL, a partnership with Creare LLC of Hanover, N.H., investigating materials for continuous casting of metallic nuclear fuel.

The Department is also awarding $21 million for six Integrated Research Projects (IRPs), which include a jointly-funded project between the Office of Nuclear Energy and the Office of Environmental Management for enhanced glass forms for nuclear waste immobilization. The Office of Environmental Management will also fund two IRP projects for advanced nuclearized robotics capabilities. Collaboration between the Offices of Environmental Management and Nuclear Energy is part of Moniz’s effort to integrate the department’s research for advanced nuclear R&D and remediation efforts.

Since 2009, the Energy Department’s Office of Nuclear Energy has awarded approximately $464 million to 113 U.S. colleges and universities to continue American leadership in clean energy innovation and to train the next generation of nuclear engineers and scientists through its university programs. Visit neup.gov for more information on today’s awards and Energy.gov for information on all of the Energy Department’s efforts to continue American leadership in low-carbon nuclear energy innovation.