GE Hitachi to lead nuclear research project as DoE provides $82m in funding

Jay Wileman is President & CEO of the Wilmington, North Carolina-based GE Hitatchi - image courtesy of GE.
Jay Wileman is President & CEO of the Wilmington, North Carolina-based GE Hitatchi - image courtesy of GE.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has selected 93 projects which will share in $82m in federal funding to help push innovative nuclear technologies towards commercialization.

The awards provide funding for nuclear research, facility access, crosscutting technology development and infrastructure. The funding will also provide funding for nuclear energy-research through the Nuclear Energy University Program (NEUP), Nuclear Science User Facilities (NSUF), and Nuclear Energy Enabling Technology programs.

In addition to financial support, a number of recipients will receive technical and regulatory assistance through the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) initiative.

One such recipient of the federal funding is GE Hitachi (GEH), with the US nuclear energy company selected to lead a $2m additive manufacturing research project.

President and CEO, GEH Jay Wileman (pictured) said the US Department of Energy had shown great leadership in advanced nuclear research in its selection of GEH to lead the additive manufacturing research project.

“The potential of 3D printing to speed delivery time and reduce the cost of manufacturing performance-enhancing replacement parts for nuclear power plants is quite significant,” he said.

“We want to recognise the Department of Energy for its leadership in advanced nuclear research and we look forward to working with the Idaho National Laboratory.”

As well as being selected to lead a new additive manufacturing research project, GEH is currently participating in a DOE-funded project with oak Ridge National laboratory to develop stainless steel with enhanced stress corrosion cracking and irradiation resistance.

The GEH project is part of the $82m investment in advanced nuclear technology recently announced by the DOE, with 92 other projects to also receive federal funding.

Universities receive $millions in nuclear research funding

The DOE awarded almost $36m to support 49 university-led nuclear energy research and development projects through the Nuclear Energy University Program, which seeks to maintain US leadership in nuclear research by providing top science and engineering students the opportunities to develop innovative technologies and solutions for civil nuclear capabilities.

Fifteen universities will also receive nearly $6m for research reactor and infrastructure upgrades.

As well as selecting GE Hitachi to lead a research project, the DOE is also supporting a nearly $3m collaborative effort with Westinghouse as the leader of one project and the collaborator in two other projects led by Argonne National Laboratory and Virginia Polytechnic Institute to develop advanced communication methods for nuclear facilities.

The DOE is also providing $21m for six Integrated Research projects, as well as $7m for seven research and development projects led by DOE national laboratories, industry and US universities to conduct research to address crosscutting nuclear energy challenges that will help to develop advanced sensors and instrumentation, advanced manufacturing methods, and materials for multiple nuclear reactor plant and fuel applications.

DOE secretary Ernest Moniz said the funding would help the ongoing innovation of advanced nuclear technologies.

“Nuclear power is our nation’s largest source of low-carbon electricity and is a vital component in our efforts to both provide affordable and reliable electricity and to combat climate change,” he said.

“These awards will help scientists and engineers as they continue to innovate with advanced nuclear technologies.”

As well as GE Hitachi and Westinghouse, other companies to receive funding under the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear includes Terrestrial Energy USA and Transatomic Power Corporation.

This month’s DOE funding towards nuclear technology research comes during a global climate in which the International Energy Agency has said that global nuclear capacity needs to be more than double and reach 930 gigawatts by mid 21st century in order to play a significant role in limiting global warming.

The recent DOE funding may play a part in meeting this goal identified by the International Energy Agency as nuclear technology becomes a more prevalent part of 21st century society.