More US funding for nuclear research

18 February 2021

The US Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) on 11 February announced a $25 million grant to a University of California, Berkeley-led consortium of 11 universities for research and development (R&D) in nuclear science, engineering, and security. This will support the consortium at $5 million a year for five years. The grant, awarded for the third time to a Berkeley-led consortium, followed the announcement of a funding opportunity issued in April 2020.

“The mission of the Nuclear Science and Security Consortium is to train the next generation of nuclear scientists and engineers, while engaging in R&D spanning basic aspects of new technology and methods to programmatic work directly supporting the NNSA’s nuclear security and nonproliferation missions,” NNSA said.

“A strong pipeline of new technical talent for our laboratories is critical to our mission of supporting US national security objectives in reducing global nuclear security threats,” said Kasia Mendelsohn, Acting Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation at NNSA.  “Over the past decade, nearly 500 degrees have been awarded through our three university consortia, resulting in more than 140 new career placements at the national laboratories.  I am confident the Berkeley-led team will build on their past success and continue to produce an effective return on agency investment.”

The other consortium member institutions include:

Air Force Institute of Technology

George Washington University

Michigan State University

North Carolina State University

Texas A&M University

University of California, Davis

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

University of New Mexico

University of Tennessee, Knoxville

These 11 universities partner with five national laboratories: Los Alamos National Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratories.

The consortium will carry out R&D in five research focus areas: nuclear physics and nuclear data; radiochemistry and nuclear chemistry; nuclear material science; radiation detection; nuclear chemical engineering and nuclear engineering.  Linking these research areas are two crosscutting efforts: computing and optimisation in nuclear applications; and education in nuclear science, technology, and policy.

“This structure provides a clear pathway for collaborative R&D with DOE’s National Laboratories supporting a range of research areas in both fundamental and applied nuclear science and engineering, NNSA noted. “It also facilitates the exchange of ideas and technologies between consortium partners and develops trained personnel across a range of disciplines.” The direct outcome of this programme “is the development of professionals with skill-sets to support foundational disciplines of nuclear physics, science and engineering, radiation detection, nuclear material science, radiochemistry, and mass spectrometry”.

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