The US Department of Energy has awarded up to $39 million in research grants aimed at developing advanced nuclear energy technologies and training under the Nuclear Energy University Programs (NEUP) initiative. The grants will support up to 51 projects at colleges and universities around the country.
The 51 awards are led by 31 US universities in more than 20 states. Other universities, industry leaders, and national laboratories will serve as collaborators and research partners. The projects selected for negotiation of award cover four nuclear energy research fields including Fuel Cycle Research and Development; Reactor Concepts Research, Development and Demonstration; Nuclear Energy Advanced Modeling and Simulation; and Transformative Research.
Fuel Cycle Research and Development – $12.4 million. Under this program researchers will develop and demonstrate methods to recycle used fuel to enable the safe, secure and sustainable expansion of nuclear energy, while minimizing proliferation and terrorism risks. Research conducted through this program is focused on developing options that use resources efficiently, reduce waste generation and enable effective waste management.
As an example, Clemson University will received $1 million to study the interaction of used fuel with storage containers under extreme conditions to help ensure public and environmental safety during the treatment and disposal of radioactive waste.
Reactor Concepts Research, Development and Demonstration – $11.9 million. This program aims to develop new and advanced reactor designs and technologies that broaden the applicability of nuclear reactors while addressing the technical, cost, safety and security issues associated with different reactor concepts.
As an example, Utah State University will receive $635,860 to model heat transfer through fluid flows within a nuclear reactor, improving reactor safety and design. The resulting data will be made available in a consolidated database for nuclear energy industry experts and researchers, supporting a wide range of related studies and reducing future testing costs.
Nuclear Energy Advanced Modeling and Simulation – $4.9 million. Under this program researchers aim to develop cross-cutting tools used to efficiently design and engineer next generation nuclear energy technologies. Advanced modeling and simulation tools help improve the safety and efficiency of reactor operations while reducing the costs associated with building prototypes and running large-scale experiments.
Colorado State University will receive $1,098,250 to develop future sustainable nuclear fuel cycles using model simulations of fuel behavior and performance in reactors. The research will provide a cost effective means to accelerate the development of these new cycles and improve fuel performance.
Transformative Research – $9.8 million. This research focuses on innovative nuclear science and engineering projects that encourage the development of game-changing nuclear energy technologies, including advanced reactor and fuel cycle concepts.
As an example, Pennsylvania State University will receive $455,628 to support the development of a sensory system for gauging the effects of aging on advanced nuclear plant components. It will also improve physical measurement accuracy and reduce uncertainty in component life expectancy.