University-based nuclear R&D gets $61 million in DOE funding

June 24, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear News

More than $61 million in funding has been released for advanced nuclear energy technology projects in 30 states and in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, the Department of Energy announced on June 22. Of that total, $58 million is going to U.S. universities for nuclear energy research, cross-discipline technology development, and research reactor infrastructure.

The details: The funds are being distributed through established DOE nuclear energy programs: the Nuclear Energy University Program (NEUP), Nuclear Energy Enabling Technologies (NEET), and Nuclear Science User Facilities (NSUF).

The bulk of the awards is being granted through NEUP. A total of 69 university-led projects across 27 states are receiving $48.8 million in DOE funding for nuclear energy research, including novel methods for the treatment and storage of nuclear waste. In addition, 24 university-led projects will receive a combined total of $5.9 million for research aimed at improving nuclear reactor infrastructure and providing crucial safety and performance upgrades to a portion of the nation’s 25 university research reactors.

Four projects awarded through NEET and NSUF—and separately housed at Iowa State University, North Carolina State University, GE Research, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory—will develop advanced materials, manufacturing, and digital instrumentation technologies to support advanced nuclear reactors and to investigate the application of nuclear fuel and materials. These projects are receiving $3.2 million and will be supported by about $3.9 million in facility access costs and expertise for experimental neutron and ion irradiation testing, post-irradiation examination facilities, synchrotron beamline capabilities, and technical assistance for the design and analysis of experiments through NSUF.

Investing in the next generation: With these latest fiscal year 2021 awards included, since 2009 the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy has awarded more than $863 million to train the next generation of nuclear scientists and engineers through competitive opportunities.

“Nuclear power is critical to America’s clean energy future, and we are committed to making it a more accessible, affordable, and resilient energy solution for communities across the country,” said energy secretary Jennifer Granholm. “At DOE, we’re not only investing in the country’s current nuclear fleet, but we’re also investing in the scientists and engineers who are developing and deploying the next generation of advanced nuclear technologies that will slash the amount of carbon pollution, create good-paying energy jobs, and realize our carbon-free goals.”

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