FY 2012 Research and Development Awards

The Department of Energy is awarding $37.9 million in support of the Nuclear Energy University Programs for 48 nuclear energy research and development projects focused on four fields: Fuel Cycle Research & Development; Reactor Concepts Research, Development & Demonstration; Nuclear Energy Advanced Modeling & Simulation; and Transformative Research.

These projects, selected for negotiation of award, are led by 33 American universities and colleges in more than 22 states and the District of Columbia. Other universities, industry leaders and National Laboratories will serve as collaborators and research partners.

A complete list of R&D projects with their associated abstracts is listed below.

 

NEUP 2012 R&D Award Abstracts

Title

University

Estimated 
University
Funding*
Award Description
Fuel Cycle Research and Development
Novel Metal Sulfides to Achieve Effective Capture and Durable Consolidation of Radionuclides Northwestern University $760,000 Researchers will evaluate the effectiveness of chalcogenide based materials design novel metal sulfides to effectively capture and store of radioisotopes released during reprocessing of used nuclear fuel. This project will focus on understanding structure-property relationships to enable refined and direct synthesis approaches for improved and cost-efficient nuclear waste forms.
Advanced Characterization of Molecular Interactions in TALSPEAK-like Separations Systems Washington State University $875,000 Researchers will use advanced characterization techniques (experimental and computational) to improve understanding of the molecular level processes/interactions during separation processes for advanced fuel cycles. The understanding of these interactions will be used to develop more robust and streamlined separation processes for advanced fuel cycles.
Alternative High-Performance Ceramic Waste Forms Alfred University $840,000 This project aims to advance fundamental understanding of the kinetics of structural evolution of crystalline ceramic waste forms. The structure/property relationships will be identified and will reveal new formulations, improved processing routes, and strategies for improved performance or ceramic waste forms.
Surface Layer-Bulk Glass Interface Evolution with Aqueous Corrosion Alfred University $880,000 This project will investigate the links between the morphology, structure and chemistry of surface layer-bulk glass interface and the long-term corrosion-reaction kinetics using in-situ and ex-situ experiments. The understanding will result in improved models for long-term predictive behavior of high-level-waste (HLW) glasses under repository conditions.
Electrochemical Corrosion Studies for Modeling Metallic Waste Form Release Rates University of Nevada- Las Vegas $790,000 This project aims to use advanced electrochemical methods to investigate the corrosion related degradation of metal alloys used for housing fission products. The data obtained from this study will allow for the prediction of the long-term behavior of the metallic host phase materials over geological time-scales.
Thermodynamic and Microstructural Mechanisms in the Corrosion of Advanced Ceramic Tc-bearing Waste Forms and Thermophysical Properties University of Nevada- Las Vegas $795,000 This project team will harvest thermodynamic and microstructural data on the evolution of ceramic based waste forms. The data will be used to advance the current state-of-the-art methodology used for isolation and stabilization of fission products and improve on nuclear fuel recycling processes.
Testing of Sapphire Optical Fiber and Sensors in Intense Radiation Fields, when Subjected to Very High Temperatures The Ohio State University $885,000 The researchers on this project will investigate the performance of sapphire optical fibers and sensors in reactor environments. The project, if successful, will result in improved instrumentation to understand the behavior and predict performance of nuclear fuel systems at the microstructural level.
Improved Accident Tolerance of Austenitic Stainless Steel Cladding through Colossal Supersaturation with Interstitial Solutes Case Western Reserve University $850,000 This project aims to develop new case-hardened austenitic stainless steels by saturating them with materials that improve their mechanical properties, corrosion resistance and radiation resistance. This project, if successful, will result in safer, longer-lasting, and more accident tolerant fuel claddings.
Development of Innovative Accident Tolerant High Thermal Conductivity UO2 Fuel Pellets with a Diamond Dopant University of Florida $800,000 Researchers will evaluate the use of diamond nanoparticles composite material in innovative accident tolerant fuel pellets. This could significantly improve both the thermal conductivity of fuel pellets and light water reactors' efficiency safety.
Better Radiation Response and Accident Tolerance of Nanostructured Ceramic Fuel Materials? University of Tennessee $815,000 Researchers will use novel experimental methods to investigate the links between microstructure, phase stability and damage evolution in nanostructured ceramic fuel materials. The project will study fuel materials at temperatures and irradiation conditions relevant to operation and accidental scenarios.
Elastic/Inelastic Measurement Project University of Kentucky $880,523 Researchers will measure nuclear data for elastic/inelastic scattered neutrons on coolants and structural materials. The data generated, will be useful for future R&D programs that will study innovative next generation LWR and future fast systems.
Accurate Holdup Calculations with Predictive Modeling and Data Integration North Carolina State University $875,000 Researchers will develop and use state-of-the-art radiation transport codes to account accurately for the fissile material in a nuclear materials processing facility. An accurate estimation of the materials will allow for ensured radiological safety, security, waste management and efficient plant operation.
Prototype Demonstration of Gamma-Blind Tensioned Metastable Fluid Neutron/Multiplicity/Alpha Detector- Real Time Methods for Advanced Fuel Cycle Applications Texas A&M University $875,000 This project aims to create a prototype demonstration of a novel neutron/alpha detector based on a technology that is blind to gamma field used fuel. The prototype, if successful, will enhance instrumentation for monitoring real-time material balance during various stages of the nuclear cycle.
Measurement of Irradiated Pyroprocessing Samples via Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy University of Idaho $820,000 This project aims to use advanced characterization techniques to investigate microstructural changes and the micromechanisms related to irradiation induced damage in used nuclear fuels and waste forms. This project, if successful, will result in enhanced models to predict the structural and chemical response of used fuel and waster forms during interim storage and permanent disposal.
Development and Experimental Benchmark of Simulations to Predict Used Nuclear Fuel Cladding Temperatures during Drying and Transfer Operations University of Nevada- Reno $745,000 Researchers will conduct experiments to investigate and develop advanced computational models of heat transfer in post-pool-storage drying operations. This project, if successful, will result in tools that can be used to design efficient drying processes to as to ensure suitability for dry-cask systems for long-term storage and transport.
Radiation and Thermal Effects on Used Nuclear Fuel and Nuclear Waste Forms University of Tennesssee $770,000 This project aims to investigate the structural and chemical response of used nuclear fuel and waste forms during interim storage and permanent disposal. If successful, this project will generate models that will allow the prediction of structural evolution and hence the radiological safety and security of nuclear fuel and waste forms.
Probabilistic Multi-Hazard Assessment of Dry Cask Structures University of Houston $865,000 This project aims to investigate the performance of dry cask storage systems under multiple hazard systems (earthquake, tornados, combined with aging effects) using a probabilistic multi-hazard framework. This framework will be validated based on experimental research and will provide improved models for safety and reliability of spent nuclear fuels during storage and transportation.
Concrete Materials with Ultra-High Damage Resistance and Self-Sensing Capacity for Extended Nuclear Fuel Storage Systems University of Houston $800,000 Researchers aim to design a new class of multifunctional concrete materials. This project, if successful, will result in a novel multifunctional concrete material that possesses inherent degradation monitoring capability and is suitable for an extended storage system for the used nuclear fuel.
Nonlinear Ultrasonic Diagnosis and Prognosis of ASR Damage in Dry Cask Storage Northwestern University $885,000 Researchers aim to use nondestructive damage characterization methods to detect, manage and mitigate the degradation/damage mechanisms of dry cask storage systems for nuclear fuels. This project, if successful, will provide tools that will allow the prediction of the reliability and the safety of concrete structures in dry cask storage systems.
Optimization of Deep Borehole Systems for HLW Disposal Massachusetts Institute of Technology $850,000 Researchers aim to carry out a comprehensive evaluation of the deep borehole option for disposal of used nuclear fuel and high livel waste. The models developed will predict potential movement of water through natural and engineered barriers and release of radionuclides to the biosphere which will aide in site selection.
Coupling of Nuclear Waste Form Corrosion and Radionuclide Transport in Presence of Relevant Repository Sediments Washington State University $885,000 Researchers will conduct experiments to understand the mechanisms responsible for the corrosion of nuclear waste forms in realistic chemical environments. The data generated from these experiments will enable increased reliability of the models used to predict the waste form performance in repository environments.
Validation Experiments for Spent-Fuel Dry-Cask In-Basket Convection Utah State University $690,000 Researchers in this project aim to conduct experiments that generate data on natural convection through a fuel assembly. The data will be used to validate the computational models being developed for nuclear safety and design.
Re-Branding the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Virginia Commonwealth University $850,000 This project will create a comprehensive framework for the evaluation of alternative fuel cycle systems that will be used to identify and analyze key elements related to long-term management of nuclear fuels , with the ultimate goal to develop a communications strategy to reach stakeholders.
Scholarship for Nuclear Communications and Methods for Evaluation of Nuclear Project Acceptability Massachusetts Institute of Technology $800,000 Researchers will work to develop a model to characterize the factors affecting social acceptance of nuclear projects with potential stakeholders. The resultant model will strengthen the ability to design and implement large projects more efficiently, leading to higher rates of success of future nuclear projects.
  Total FCR&D $19,880,523  
Reactor Concepts Research Development and Demonstration (RCRD&D)
Fuel Core Design Options to Overcome the Heavy Metal Loading Limit and Improve Performance and Safety of Liquid Salt Cooled Reactors Georgia Insitute of Technology $784,689 Researchers will examine new options for fuel and core designs in liquid salt cooled reactors where the current standard of TRISO type fuel has limitations due to loading characteristics. The research could enable new, more feasible fuel-core-reload options that will improve safety and performance parameters.
Advanced Supercritical Carbon Dioxide Brayton Cycle Development University of Wisconsin- Madison $877,000 Researchers will investigate the benefits of utilizing advanced Brayton cycles with supercritical carbon dioxide in new reactor systems and components. Benefits of this research include improvement of analysis and performance of components currently utilizing these cycles as well as the potential for a large scale advanced CO2 power system.
Irradiation Performance of Fe-Cr Base Alloys University of Illinois- Urbana Champaign $876,332 Researchers will perform post-radiation analysis and develop tools for future development and application of the Fe-Cr class of alloys. The results of this research will lead to better modeling of performance and development of an alloy designated as the primary choice for reactor fuel cladding and structural applications in advanced systems.
Accelerated Irradiations for High Dose Microstructures in Fast Reactor Alloys University of Michigan $831,876 Researchers will determine the extent to which high dose rate irradiation can be used as an irradiation damage tool to understand microstructure evolution at high doses and temperatures relevant to advanced fast reactors. The project will provide fundamental understanding of the effectiveness of this process and thus of microstructure development in irradiated materials.
Nonlinear Ultrasonic Techniques to Monitor Radiation Damage in RPV and Internal Components Georgia Institute of Technology $877,000 Researchers will explore new nondestructive materials evaluation and monitoring techniques utilizing nonlinear ultrasonic measurements . This technique will allow researchers to assess remaining useful life of select reactor components. Breakthroughs in this area will lead to the ability to characterize radiation damage in reactor pressure vessels and other components-leading to a clearer definition of reactor safety margins.
Role of Defects in Swelling and Creep of Irradiated SiC University of Wisconsin- Madison $875,350 Researchers will study mechanisms controlling both radiation swelling and radiation creep in silicon carbide. These two effects are crucial to understanding the issues associated with the brittle silicon carbide composite. Success in this project will ground progress in the adoption of silicon carbide for reactor solutions, particularly as fuel cladding.
Experimental and CFD Studies of Coolant Flow Mixing within Scaled Models of the Upper and Lower Plenums of NGNP Gas-Cooled Reactors Texas A&M University $713,051 Researchers will model the internal coolant flow of a prismatic core very high temperature reactor (VHTR) by using large eddy simulation tools. This method will enable more accurate prediction of flow field characteristics and better evaluation of VHTR behavior under operational and accidental conditions.
Experimentally Validated Numerical Models for Effects of Non-Isothermal Turbulent Mixing on Wall Stresses in High Temperature Reactors University of Pittsburgh $876,422 Researchers will develop a comprehensive experimentally validated computational framework for the turbulent mixing in the lower plenum of a very high temperature reactor (VHTR). Through CFD modeling and experimental validation, the results from this project will lay the groundwork for future stress analysis, failure and fatigue studies, and uncertainty quantification for the VHTR system.
Demonstrating Hybrid Heat Transport and Energy Conversion System Performance Characterization Using Intelligent Control Systems University of Idaho $877,000 Researchers will demonstrate an intelligent control systems in a hybrid energy conversion loop for a next generation nuclear power plant. Hybrid energy systems are a method of optimizing the use of natural resources for energy production. Hybrid systems present an opportunity to develop domestic energy sources to improve energy security.
Advanced Reactor-Intermediate Heat Exchanger (IHX) Coupling: Theoretical Modeling and Experimental Validation University of Idaho $869,997 Researchers will model the behavior of the Advanced Reactor Intermediate Heat Exchanger Chemical Process system and develop advanced control techniques that take into account abnormal scenarios. The data and information obtained will assist in the development of intelligent control systems for next generation nuclear reactor systems.
Thermoelectric-Driven Sustainable Sensing and Actuation Systems for Fault-Tolerant Nuclear Incidents State University of New York, Stony Brook $599,802 Researchers will examine the use of solid-state thermoelectric generators to produce electricity to sense and opeate during both normal and abnormal situations. This will provide indefinite monitoring of key components during power outages or station blackouts.
Intergral Reactor Containment Condensation Model and Experimental Validation Oregon State University $871,119 Researchers will conduct experiments to enhance the safety and efficiency of small modular reactors (SMRs). This project will assess the impact of high-pressure steam condensation on steel containment vessels to be used for SMR deigns.
Investigation of Natural Circulation Instability and Transients in Passively Safe Small Modular Reactors Purdue University $871,100 Researchers will perform scaled experiments to study the thermal-hydraulic instabilities that can occur in Small Modular Reactors (SMR) which rely on natural circulation cooling during normal operation and accident conditions. Their work will not only improve our understanding of general natural circulation instability but also lead to the development of stability criteria and predictability in the operation of SMR’s.
  Total RCRD&D $10,800,738  
Nuclear Energy Advanced Modeling and Simulation (NEAMS)
Atomic-Scale to Meso-Scale Simulation Studies of Thermal Ageing and Irradiation Effects in Fe-Cr Alloys Boston University $874,997 Researchers will develop predictive, multi-scale simulation tools for iron-chromium alloys, which are expected to be key components of advanced steels envisioned as fuel cladding and structural components for Generation IV reactors. Such modeling is necessary to avoid resource intensive and costly thermal and neutron irradiation experiments to obtain required performance data.
Validation Data and Model Development for Fuel Assembly Response to Seismic Loads George Washington University $862,435 Researchers will conduct experiments that will provide comprehensive data characterizing the dynamics of the fluid and the structure in Pressurized Water Reactors (PWR) fuel assemblies under seismic loads (earthquakes and loss of coolant accidents). Completion of their project will greatly benefit the safety of existing and future nuclear reactors.
Uncertainty Quantification and Management for Multiscale Nuclear Materials Modeling Georgia Institute of Technology $743,444 Researchers will address the question of uncertainty propogation and error estimates associated with model prediction of material behavior under irradiation. Their work will facilitate a better understanding of the connection of various unit processes to collective responses in a multiscale model chain enabling the development of high strength and high ductility materials.
  Total NEAMS $2,480,876  
Mission Supporting Transformative Research
High Hydrogen Content Graphene Hydride Compounds & High Cross-Section Cladding Coatings for Fast Neutron Detection University of South Carolina $430,000 This project will exploit recent breakthroughs to grow epitaxial graphene on commercial SiC wafers. This will allow researchers to develop a new detection method for fast neutrons. In addition, it will lead to better and more compact neutron detection system.
Microscopic Fuel Particles Produced by Self-Assembly of Actinide Nanoclusters on Carbon Nanomaterials University of Notre Dame $440,000 Researchers will develop the mechanisms, conditions and protocols to prepare uranium-carbon nanocomposite materials to make them more flexible. This could result in the generation of wholesale electricity, providing process heat, and providing power for households.
Reducing Actinide Production Using Inert Matrix Fuels University of Texas- Austin $435,000 Researchers will perform a neutronic analysis, a thermal-hydraulic analysis and a simulation of fuel decay heat as a functionof fuel burnup, to determine if inert matrix fuel in coventional reactors will continue to be licensable. If successful, the inert matrix fuel mixtures will reduce harmful transuranic components in the fuel discharge streams at a level comparable to a fast reactcor burner.
An Integrated Fuel Depletion Calculator for Fuel Cycle Options Analysis University of Texas- Austin $395,000 Researchers use new analysis techniques to better predict nuclear fuel behavior. The new model will allow improved fuel cycle for a larger number of users.
ABR for TRU Transmutation with Breed & Burn Thorium Blanket for Improved Economics and Resource Utilization University of California- Berkeley $450,000 The research team will use detailed neutronic analysis for a new Advanced Burner Reactor concept with low conversion ratio. The concept will use a new core shape to improve the utilization of neutrons to perform breed and burn.
Stationary Liquid Fuel Fast Reactor (SLFFR) Concept for TRU Burning Purdue University $450,000 Researchers will investigate a new type of molten metallic fuel reactor concept that will consume hazardous transuranic waste. The liquid fuel alloy has several advantages over solid fuel fast reactors that are used for the same purpose.
New Materials for High Temperature Thermoelecric Power Generation University of California, Davis $450,000 Researchers will work to develop nanostructured and other new materials to support the development of higher efficiency thermoelectric devices. These devices convert thermal energy to electricity with no moving parts. The new materials will operate at higher efficiencies and over a wider temperature range than those currently available--an important quality for future nuclear-powered deep space exploration.
  Total MS $3,050,000  
  Total of Phase I Awards $36,212,137  
NEUP 2012 R&D Awards- Phase II Funding

Title

University

Estimated
University
Funding*
Award Description
Joint NEUP ATR-NSUF Projects
Mitigating IASCC of Reactor Core Internals by Post-Irradiation Annealing Advanced Mitigation Strategies University of Michigan $876,985 Researchers will determine the optimum Post-irradiation annealing (PIA)-driven mitigation strategy to extend the potential lifetime of light water reactors. Samples that have already been irradiated in a light water reactor will be used to test PIA treatments to understand IASCC initiation and propoagation, annealing kinetics, the role of microstructure features in irradation hardening and localized deformation, and the optimum mitigation strategy based on PIA.
  Total of All Awards $37,089,122  
NEUP 2012 R&D Awards- Phase III Funding

Title

University

Estimated
University
Funding*
Award Description
Seismic Performance of Dry Casks Storage for Long-Term Exposure University of Utah $873,319 Researchers will evaluate the mechanical performance of dry-cask storage under seismic loading for mid-term operational periods. Simulations will include scenarios for freestanding, anchored, and vaulted casks. The experimental tests will also evaluate the dynamic seismic response of freestanding and anchored dry-cask storage prototypes, providing recommendations for optimal Interim Spent Fuel Storage Installations (ISFSIs) design.
  Total of All Awards $37,965,441  

FCR&D – Fuel Cycle Research and Development
RCRD&D – Reactor Concepts Research, Development and Demonstration
NEAMS – Nuclear Energy Advanced Modeling and Simulation
MS – Mission Supporting Transformative Research

*Actual project funding will be established during the contract negotiations phase.