The US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced nearly $16m in funding to help businesses "move promising energy technologies" from the DOE's national laboratories to the marketplace. DOE said on 21 June that the round of funding through its Technology Commercialisation Fund (TCF) will support 54 projects at 12 national labs involving 52 private-sector partners and involve projects including nuclear reactors and uranium mining development. All projects selected for the TCF will receive an equal amount of non-federal funds to match the federal investment.
DOE's under secretary for science and energy Lynn Orr said: "Deploying new clean energy technologies is an essential part of our nation's effort to lead in the 21st century economy and in the fight against climate change." He added that the funds "will help to accelerate the commercialisation of cutting-edge energy technologies developed in our national labs, making them more widely available to American consumers and businesses".
Earlier on 14 June DOE announced more than $82m in nuclear energy research, facility access, cross-cutting technology development and infrastructure awards, with 93 projects selected to receive funding to help push innovative nuclear technologies towards commercialisation. The awards provide funding for nuclear energy-related research through the Nuclear Energy University Programme (NEUP), Nuclear Science User Facilities (NSUF), and Nuclear Energy Enabling Technology programmes. A number of recipients will also receive technical and regulatory assistance through the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) initiative.
The DOE said it has awarded almost $36m to support 49 university-led nuclear energy research and development projects through NEUP. This programme "seeks to maintain US leadership in nuclear research across the country by providing top science and engineering students and faculty members opportunities to develop innovative technologies and solutions for civil nuclear capabilities", DOE said. In addition, 15 universities will receive nearly $6m for research reactor and infrastructure upgrades.
Under the GAIN initiative, through which DOE offers access to its nuclear energy-related knowledge and capabilities, the department has also announced a $2m award to GE Hitachi to cover the cost of placing material samples into a NSUF-affiliated nuclear reactor to analyse the effects of radiation on their properties. DOE is also supporting a nearly $3m collaborative effort with Westinghouse as the lead of one project and as a collaborator in two other projects, led by Argonne National Laboratory and Virginia Polytechnic Institute to develop advanced communication methods for nuclear facilities.
DOE said awards under the GAIN initiative complement the Nuclear Energy Voucher Programme that will provide $2m this year to help eight small businesses to build the collaborations necessary to accelerate the development and deployment of innovative nuclear technologies.
DOE is also providing $21m for six Integrated Research Projects (IRPs) including a jointly-funded project between its Office of Nuclear Energy and the Office of Environmental Management for enhanced glass forms for waste vitrification. The Office of Environmental Management will also fund two IRP projects for "advanced nuclearised robotics capabilities".
Almost $7m will be awarded for seven R&D projects led by DOE national laboratories, industry and US universities to conduct research to "address crosscutting nuclear energy challenges" that will help to develop advanced sensors and instrumentation, advanced manufacturing methods, and materials for multiple nuclear reactor plant and fuel applications.
DOE has selected 11 university, national laboratory and industry-led projects to take advantage of NSUF capabilities to investigate nuclear fuel and material applications. The department will fund over $9m in facility access costs and expertise for experimental neutron and ion irradiation testing, post-irradiation examination facilities, synchrotron beamline capabilities and technical assistance for design and analysis of experiments through the NSUF. It will also provide over $1m for three projects at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory for further materials and instrumentation research.
DOE said its Office of Nuclear Energy has awarded some $464m to 113 US colleges and universities since 2009 "to continue American leadership in clean energy innovation and to train the next generation of nuclear engineers and scientists through its university programmes".