The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has selected Westinghouse Electric Company and its research partners to receive $8 million in research awards over the next three years to fund a series of projects.

The awards support Westinghouse research in a number of areas including the area of self-powered wireless sensors and laser-based 3D printing.

“This is a valuable opportunity for Westinghouse to advance our most innovative nuclear technologies while collaborating across the industry with the best minds in the most advanced research facilities,” said Jim Brennan, Westinghouse senior vice president of the Engineering Center of Excellence. “Our priority is to develop technology for existing nuclear facilities and advanced nuclear plants to assure the vitality and economic viability of the nuclear fleet.”

Westinghouse will receive funding for 11 separate projects. One concept under development is a self-powered wireless sensor which would eliminate the need to introduce devices into the nuclear containment vessels via metal cables. Westinghouse is also developing methods to ensure the commercial viability of nuclear components manufactured through 3D printing techniques. With the DOE award, Westinghouse will develop a laser-based 3D printing technique to create metal parts that are certified for use in nuclear structural applications. The 3D printing of nuclear components will allow the most complicated parts to be manufactured in a way that improves the quality by eliminating tooling. 

Other Westinghouse projects that will receive DOE funding include research into the behavior of corrosion-resistant uranium silicide fuels to improve the performance and extend fuel life for broader accident tolerant fuel development. Research into acoustic communication along metal pathways in nuclear facilities is also being funded. This research will provide important developments in new nuclear technologies.