The US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Nuclear Energy University Program (NEUP) has granted research funds to the MIT Energy Initiative, UK-based Core Power, and the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) for a three-year study into the development of offshore floating nuclear power generation in the USA, according to Core Power.

The NEUP funding will allow detailed collaborative research into the economic and environmental benefits of floating advanced nuclear power generation and take a granular look at all aspects of building, operating, maintaining, and decommissioning such facilities. “We believe this will help us take the next step in bringing ground-breaking new nuclear technology to the maritime market,” said Mikal Bøe, Chairman and CEO of Core Power.

(DOE earlier announced its intention to fund and develop regional clean hydrogen hubs (H2Hubs) across America, one of which must be powered by nuclear. Funding would come from the $1,200 billion Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The $8 billion hydrogen hub programme brings together stakeholders to help drive down the cost of advanced hydrogen production, transport, storage, and utilization across multiple sectors in the economy.

“This NEUP project will among other things look at how a nuclear-powered H2Hub off the coast of the US could set the scene and demonstrate how we make hydrogen production, safe, cheap and reliable by placing the production unit offshore,” Bøe said.

John Parsons, the Principal Investigator on the project and Associate Director for Research at MIT’s Center for Energy and Environmental Policy, noted: “As the US moves to decarbonise diverse industries, including shipping, we will have to explore and understand novel applications of technologies like nuclear and hydrogen production. This NEUP project will help us do that.” 

NEUP seeks to align the nuclear energy research being conducted at US colleges and universities with DOE’s mission and goals. The programme supports projects that focus on the needs and priorities of key Office of Nuclear Energy programmes, including fuel cycle, reactor concepts, and mission-supporting research. The research will run in parallel to proof-of-concept prototype reactors currently being developed at INL.

Image: Design of one of Core Power's offshore floating nuclear power plants (courtesy of Core Power)