NRC awards R&D grants to 10 universities

November 17, 2021, 6:59AMNuclear News

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced on November 15 that it has awarded nearly $5.5 million in grants to support research and development activities in nuclear science, engineering, technology, and related disciplines under the University Nuclear Leadership Program (UNLP), previously known as the Integrated University Program.

Congress authorized $10 million in UNLP funds for fiscal year 2021, and the NRC reports that the remainder of those funds are allotted for scholarships, fellowships, trade schools/community colleges, and faculty development and will be distributed by the end of May 2022.

Purpose: The intent of the grants is to develop a workforce capable of supporting the design, construction, operation, and regulation of nuclear facilities and the safe handling of nuclear materials, according to the NRC. This year’s awards include research on advanced reactors, mixed oxide fuel, accident tolerant fuel, heat pipe performance, and dry storage canisters.

“The NRC is thrilled to offer grant opportunities that support future-focused research aimed at helping the agency prepare for upcoming challenges,” said Raymond Furstenau, director of the NRC Office of Research. “The number of responses received to the funding opportunity announcement has been outstanding. The grants program encourages careers and research in the nuclear sector, providing expertise to keep our nuclear facilities and materials safe and secure in the future.”

Awardees: Eleven awards were distributed to 10 universities, with each award at or near $500,000, for a total of $5,455,056.

  • Kansas State University (Kans.), “Statistical Learning Based Multiscale Safety Analysis Framework for Advanced Reactors.”
  • Worcester Polytechnic Institute (Mass.), “Developing the Research Facilities, Shielding, and Licensing Strategy for a Next-Generation Hybrid Research and Power University Nuclear Reactor.”
  • Purdue University (Ind.), “Degradation Assessment of Advanced Welds for Pressure Vessels.”
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute (Va.), “Development of a Novel Multi-Modal In-Situ Detection System Supporting Human-Machine Collaboration in Core Monitoring and Control of Advanced Reactors.”
  • Clemson University (S.C.), “Coupling Life-Cycle Impact Assessment and Risk Assessment for Sustainability-Informed Decision Making.”
  • Auburn University (Ala.), “Development of a Soil-Structure-Interaction Framework in Support to Enhance Regulatory Oversight for Small Modular Reactors.”
  • Virginia Commonwealth University (Va.), “Advanced Characterization of ATF Cladding for Understanding Their Degradation Under Short-Time Temperature Excursions and Implications in Dry Storage.”
  • University of Cincinnati (Ohio), “In Vivo Measurement of Low Energy Photon Associated with an Internal Deposition of Mixed Oxide Nuclear Fuel.”
  • University of Texas at Arlington (Texas), “High-Fidelity Experiments and Simulations of Heat Pipe Performance under Steady-State, Transient, and Accident Conditions.”
  • University of Texas at Austin (Texas), “Advanced Condition Monitoring of Dry Storage Canisters by Helical Guided Ultrasonic Waves.”
  • Auburn University (Ala.), “A High-Throughput Approach to Establish the Regulatory Basis for Qualifying Laser Additive Manufactured Stainless Steel for Nuclear Applications.”

More information: Executive summaries of the research projects are posted on the NRC’s website. The UNLP funding opportunity was posted on July 27 and closed on October 4.

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