ARPA-E program to reduce fuel waste from advanced nuclear reactorsEngineering360 News Desk | May 20, 2021
“More than half of our zero carbon energy is generated from nuclear power, and through this groundbreaking research we can expand nuclear's potential,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “America is an innovation leader, and DOE is proud to invest in the next generation of nuclear energy technologies that will power the nation and protect our environment.”
ONWARDS is ARPA-E’s first focused program working to identify transformative AR, used nuclear fuel (UNF) waste and UNF disposal pathways. ARPA-E's statutory authority was updated in the ARPA-E Reauthorization Act of 2019, charging the agency to “provide transformative solutions to improve the management, clean-up, and disposal of radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel.”
Proactively reducing the amount of waste from ARs poses an innovative opportunity that will enable the future deployment of nuclear power. ONWARDS teams will seek to facilitate a 10 times reduction in UNF and waste volume generation or repository footprint across three key areas:
- Process: Improvements in fuel recycling that significantly minimize waste volumes, improve intrinsic proliferation resistance, increase resource use and bolster AR commercialization.
- Safeguards: Improvements in sensor and data fusion technologies that enable accurate and timely accounting of nuclear materials.
- Waste form: Development of high-performance waste forms for all AR classes with an emphasis on those forms that span multiple reactor classes and disposal environments and are safe and stable over required timescales
ONWARDS aims to advance development of high-performance AR waste forms while maintaining exemplary safeguards standards and global back-end costs in the accepted range of $1/MWh. Here are details on how to apply for funding.