The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced funding selectees for multiple domestic advanced nuclear technology projects. Three projects in three states will receive varying amounts for a total of approximately $15 million in funding. The projects are cost-shared and will allow industry-led teams, including participants from federal agencies, public and private laboratories, institutions of higher education, and other domestic entities, to advance the state of U.S. commercial nuclear capability.

The awards are through the Office of Nuclear Energy’s (NE) funding opportunity announcement (FOA) U.S. Industry Opportunities for Advanced Nuclear Technology Development. This is the sixth round of funding through this FOA. The first group was announced on April 27, 2018, the second group on July 10, 2018, the third group on November 13, 2018, the fourth group on March 27, 2019, and the fifth group on May 23, 2019. Initial and subsequent phase awards made as a result of these six rounds has now totaled about $195 million of U.S. Government funds. Subsequent quarterly application review and selection processes will be conducted over the next three years.

“Several U.S. companies are working on technologies to make the next generation of nuclear reactors highly competitive, and private-public partnerships will be key to successfully developing innovative domestic nuclear technologies,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry. “The Trump Administration is committed to reviving and revitalizing the U.S. nuclear industry.”

The solicitation is broken into three funding pathways:

First-of-a-Kind (FOAK) Nuclear Demonstration Readiness Project pathway, intended to address major advanced reactor design development projects or complex technology advancements for existing plants which have significant technical and licensing risk and have the potential to be deployed by the mid-to-late 2020s.

Advanced Reactor Development Projects pathway, which allows a broad scope of proposed concepts and ideas that are best suited to improving the capabilities and commercialization potential of advanced reactor designs and technologies.

Regulatory Assistance Grants pathway, which provide direct support for resolving design regulatory issues, regulatory review of licensing topical reports or papers, and other efforts focused on obtaining certification and licensing approvals for advanced reactor designs and capabilities.

The following two projects were selected under the Advanced Reactor Development Projects pathway:

LWR Integrated Energy Systems Interface Technology Development & Demonstration – Under this proposal, FirstEnergy Solutions Corporation (Akron, OH) will develop a light water reactor (LWR) hybrid energy systems. The proposed project installs an electrolysis (LTE) unit at Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station. Major interfaces required for LWR hybrid operations (e.g. dynamic controls to apportion power output between the electrical grid and LTE unit) are addressed. A final report describing outcomes and business case opportunities will be shared with partners and third parties interested in LWR hybrid energy systems.

DOE Funding: $9,184,229; Non-DOE: $2,299,391; Total: $11,483,620

Application of Machine Learning for Enhanced Diagnostic and Prognostic Capabilities of Nuclear Power Plant Assets – Under this proposal, Blue Wave Capital and Consulting, DBA Blue Wave AI Labs (Celebration, FL) will develop and provide Machine Learning solutions to improve and extend diagnostic and prognostic capabilities for predictive maintenance in nuclear plants. These solutions will integrate vast amounts of structured and unstructured historical data from ∼15 boiling water reactors (BWRs), collected over multiple fuel cycles, in order to capture the complete operational and dynamic environment of plant components. DOE Funding: $5,476,400; Non-DOE: $1,520,000; Total Value: $6,996,400

The following project was selected under the Regulatory Assistance Grant pathway:

Advanced Fuel Qualification Methodology Report for TerraPower Traveling Wave Reactor – TerraPower LLC (Bellevue, WA) proposed project is to develop an Advanced Fuel Qualification Methodology Report for TerraPower’s Traveling Wave Reactor (TWR) fuel and to deliver the report to the NRC for review and approval. The Advanced Fuel Qualification Methodology Report will be developed for a metal-fueled sodium fast reactor.  The processes and methodologies described will be generally applicable to other fuel types thereby helping the US industry address fuel qualification.

DOE Funding: $492,137; Non-DOE: $492,138; Total Value: $984,275

NE funds research, development, and demonstration projects to reduce the risk and cost of advanced nuclear technologies, and to improve nuclear energy’s contribution to meeting the nation’s economic, energy security, and environmental challenges.