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DOE Awards $122M to Oak Ridge-Led Team to Establish and Operate Nuclear Energy Modeling and Simulation Energy Innovation Hub

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has selected of a team led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) for an award of up to $122 million over five years to establish and operate a new Nuclear Energy Modeling and Simulation Energy Innovation Hub. The Hub, which includes partners from universities, industry and other national labs, will use advanced modeling and simulation capabilities (e.g., computational fluid dynamics) and apply them through a new multi-physics computational capability to support significant leaps forward in nuclear reactor design and engineering.

The Nuclear Energy Innovation Hub is a critical element in our efforts to re-establish American leadership in nuclear energy research and development...With the Hubs, we are taking a page from America’s great industrial laboratories in their heyday and building creative, highly-integrated research teams that can accomplish more, faster, than researchers working separately.

—Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel Poneman

The Nuclear Energy Innovation Hub is one of three Hubs that will receive funding in FY10. The Hubs are large, multidisciplinary, highly-collaborative teams of scientists and engineers working over a longer time frame to achieve a specific high-priority goal, such as developing fuels from sunlight in an economical way and making buildings more energy efficient. They will be managed by top teams of scientists and engineers with enough resources and authority to move quickly in response to new developments. Selections for the other Hubs will be announced over the coming months.

Specifically, the Nuclear Energy Innovation Hub will allow engineers to create a simulation of a currently operating reactor that will act as a virtual model of that reactor. They will then use the virtual model to address questions about reactor operations and safety. This will be used to address issues such as reactor power production increases and reactor life and license extensions. The combination of data gained from the virtual model and the physical reactor will be used to resolve technology issues confronting nuclear energy development in the near, mid, and long terms.

The Nuclear Energy Innovation Hub will be located at the ORNL site near Oak Ridge, Tennessee. In addition to ORNL, the members of the team are:

  • Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI)
  • Idaho National Laboratory
  • Los Alamos National Laboratory
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • North Carolina State University,
  • Sandia National Laboratories
  • Tennessee Valley Authority
  • University of Michigan
  • Westinghouse Electric Company

The Hub will be funded at up to $22 million this fiscal year. The Hub will then be funded at an estimated $25 million per year for the next four years, subject to Congressional appropriations.

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