The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released its Fiscal Year 2025 budget request, which includes nearly $1.6 billion for the Office of Nuclear Energy (NE).

The request includes $694.2 million in research and development activities meant to help advance reactor and fuel technologies, address gaps in the domestic nuclear fuel supply chain and utilize the latest artificial intelligence and machine learning tools to optimize performance.

The DOE broke down five areas where the requested budget would be spent:

1. Access to HALEU

NE is requesting $188 million to secure a near-term supply of high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) for DOE-supported research and demonstration projects. 

These efforts include the recovery and downblending of government-owned legacy uranium and ramping up enrichment operations in Piketon, Ohio to help make limited quantities available.  

The funding is meant to complement the DOE’s longer-term strategy to expand its domestic enrichment capacity through purchase agreements with industry partners to help spur demand for additional HALEU production.  

The recently passed FY24 spending bill directed $2.72 billion to further build out a low-enriched uranium and advanced nuclear fuel supply chain.

2. Developing new reactor technologies

The FY25 request includes $142.5 million to support the continued execution of five advanced reactor projects supported through DOE’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program.  

NE is also requesting $56 million to establish new testing facilities at the national labs, including $12 million to finish the construction of the NRIC DOME at Idaho National Laboratory.  

DOME will be the world’s first microreactor test bed and could start testing designs as soon as 2026.

The funding also includes $16.5 million for DOE’s MARVEL microreactor testing platform to complete the fabrication of its fuel and key components.  

NE is also requesting more than $18 million to initiate construction of the LOTUS testbed that will be used to test new technologies to generate data required for design and licensing.  

3. Boosting university R&D

NE is requesting $143 million to support emerging technologies developed by U.S. universities, colleges, and small businesses. 

The funding will also be used for university infrastructure improvements and fuel services, along with workforce development activities such as scholarship and fellowship opportunities.  

NE is getting closer to eclipsing the $1 billion funding mark with more than $990 million awarded to colleges and universities across the country since 2009.  

4. Additive manufacturing and AI

The FY25 request also includes $32 million to advance the use of digital tools and manufacturing methods to strengthen nuclear supply chains and help optimize reactor performance.

This funding includes $17 million to support the qualification of additively manufactured materials for use in nuclear reactors and $9 million to develop and demonstrate sensors, instrumentation, and control systems, including potential ways to apply artificial intelligence and machine learning tools to advanced reactor designs and operations.

DOE says the two technologies combined could drastically reduce the time it takes to test, qualify, and deploy new reactor components and fuels. 

The remaining $6 million will address high-priority supply chain needs for the near-term deployment of advanced reactors. 

5. Deploying U.S. reactors internationally

Finally, the FY25 request includes $8 million to support several U.S. international projects, including providing workforce development, training, and technical expertise to new and emerging nuclear energy countries in Africa, Asia, and Central and Eastern Europe.  

The funding will be used to establish regional clean energy training centers in key markets to provide capacity-building and professional development opportunities in regions looking to develop or grow their civil nuclear programs. 

The full budget request can be read here.

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