DOE awards $36M for technologies to limit advanced nuclear waste

Published on March 14, 2022 by Dave Kovaleski

© Shutterstock

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) awarded $36 million for 11 projects to limit the amount of waste produced from advanced nuclear reactors.

Nuclear power provides approximately 50 percent of the nation’s carbon-free electricity and about a fifth of U.S. electricity overall. However, it produces waste that must be disposed of and safely stored. This initiative – the Optimizing Nuclear Waste and Advanced Reactor Disposal Systems (ONWARDS) program – will develop technologies that can resolve the waste and storage challenges associated with advanced nuclear reactor (AR) fuel cycles.

“Developing novel approaches to safely manage nuclear waste will enable us to power even more homes and businesses in America with carbon-free nuclear energy,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said. “ARPA-E is doing just that by supporting companies and universities that are working on next-generation technologies to modernize advanced reactors and strengthen the nation’s clean energy enterprise.”

ARPA-E awarded funding to 11 groups to carry out this goal in various different capacities. They include Brigham Young University ($900,217); Citrine Informatics ($3,103,770); Deep Isolation ($3,608,399); General Electric (GE) Global Research ($4,499,463); Idaho National Laboratory ($2,076,343); Oklo ($4,000,000); Orano Federal Services ($2,249,573); Rutgers University ($4,000,007); Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute ($607,505); Stony Brook University ($3,400,000); and TerraPower ($8,550,000).

“The vibrant nuclear energy research and development at Idaho National Laboratory is critical for the development of new, safe and reliable clean energy technologies to build out our nation’s robust energy portfolio,” U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) said. “The need to appropriately prepare and remove spent nuclear fuel is equally important, and projects like these will allow INL to continue being a pioneer in the next generation of nuclear energy.”

ONWARDS is ARPA-E’s first program created to identify and facilitate technologies for AR used nuclear fuel (UNF) recycling and disposal.

“Nuclear power is the number one source of electricity for Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. We have a responsibility to make sure we’re doing everything we can to reduce nuclear waste, support safe and sustainable domestic fuel stocks, and advance our nation’s clean energy portfolio,” U.S. Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC) said. “That’s why I’m proud to celebrate this over $2 million grant to develop high-impact energy technologies, create local jobs, and advance the Biden Harris Administration’s important work for a clean energy future.”