The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded $2.8 million to a coalition of partners who will research fuel management options for next-gen nuclear reactors.

EPRI will lead the team, which also includes Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Southern Company and Deep Isolation. The funding comes from DOE’s Advanced Reactor Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E).

Specifically, the two-year project aims to expand the available options of nuclear fuel management by creating a tool to optimize processes for the recovery of uranium from used nuclear fuel. The scope of the project would include an at-scale study for market readiness of some of these techniques.

EPRI will provide project management and expertise in advanced reactor development, ORNL will provide technical expertise in nuclear fuel cycles and system modeling for developing the tool, Southern Company will provide real-world data and their experience in shepherding new technology from the laboratory to full-scale commercial deployment and Deep Isolation will assist with technical expertise in the disposal of used fuel in deep borehole repositories approximately a mile underground.

“This project is at the heart of two of our focus areas at ORNL — advancing the next generation of nuclear technology to meet the nation’s energy needs and climate goals while reducing the demand on waste generation storage and ultimate disposal,” said Andy Worrall, section head of Integrated Fuel Cycle research at ORNL.

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