A group of universities led by Dr. Charles Forsberg of the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering (NSE) has been awarded $5 million as part of the Department of Energy’s Nuclear Energy University Programs (NEUP) initiative to support research and development on the next generation of nuclear technologies. The award extends funding for the integrated research project (IRP) between MIT, UC Berkeley, and the University of Wisconsin, Madison, to develop a test reactor and ultimately a commercial high-temperature salt-cooled reactor (also called a Fluoride-salt High-Temperature Reactor [FHR]). The FHR is a new reactor concept that combines high-temperature graphite-matrix coated particle fuel developed for high-temperature gas-cooled reactors, liquid salt coolant developed for molten salt reactors, and safety systems originating with sodium fast reactors. The other project collaborators are Dr. Lin-wen Hu of the MIT Nuclear Reactor Lab; Professor Per Peterson of University of California at Berkeley; and Professor Todd Allen of the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
In a separate DOE NEUP R&D Award, NSE Professors Benoit Forget and Kord Smith received a $400,000 grant to introduce BEAVRS (Benchmark for Evaluation and Validation of Reactor Simulations), a new multi-cycle full-core Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR) depletion benchmark based on two operational cycles of a commercial nuclear power plant. This project focuses on uncertainty quantification of the measured data with the goal of making the BEAVRS benchmark a true non-proprietary international benchmark for the validation of high-fidelity multi-physics computational tools.
Finally, the Department of Mechanical Engineering's Professor Alexander Slocum was awarded a $400,000 NEUP grant to develop a seawater uranium extraction system that will work symbiotically with an offshore windmill by utilizing the structure, mooring and power of the windmill, while increasing the uranium harvested by the installation. In this system uranium will be extracted by an adsorbent polymer belt, which will be cycled through the seawater and an elution plant located at the base of the windmill tower. Increasing the frequency of harvesting could overcome current economic barriers to seawater uranium extraction.
The NEUP Integrated Research Projects (IRPs) and Research and Development Awards were established by DOE to help ensure that the country maintains a leading role in nuclear energy research. Five IRP awards and 44 Research and Development awards were announced for FY 2014.