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DOE Funds 11 Organizations Researching Ways to Cut Nuclear Reactor Byproducts

Reducing nuclear waste

DOE Funds 11 Organizations Researching Ways to Cut Nuclear Reactor Byproducts

The Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy announced $36 million in funding would be provided for 11 projects seeking new ways to use nuclear power as a reliable source of clean energy while limiting the amount of waste produced from advanced nuclear reactors. Approximately 50 percent of America’s carbon-free electricity is produced by nuclear reactors, but they also produce toxic byproducts which must be disposed of and safely stored, the DOE said Thursday.

In a statement, Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said developing novel approaches to safely manage nuclear waste will enable the United States to power even more homes and businesses with carbon-free nuclear energy. She said that ARPA-E is leading the search for next-generation technologies to modernize advanced reactors through its Optimizing Nuclear Waste and Advanced Reactor Disposal Systems program.

The 11 ONWARDS program beneficiaries include Brigham Young University, Citrine Informatics, Deep Isolation, General Electric, Idaho National Laboratory, Oklo, Orano Federal Services, Rutgers University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Stony Brook University and TerraPower. The awards they will receive range from a minimum of $500,000 to a high of $9.5 million, the DOE revealed.

The DOE recently released a comprehensive supply chain report in response to President Joe Biden’s executive order titled “America’s Supply Chains” signed in 2021. The Department said that a key goal of the report is to enable the development of fuel for advanced reactor technologies that will further nuclear energy deployment as a reliable source of clean energy and improve waste management options.

Meanwhile, the International Atomic Energy Agency mandates that nuclear waste must be processed to make it safe for disposal. This includes its collection and sorting, reducing its volume and changing its chemical and physical composition, and finally, its conditioning so it is immobilized and packaged before storage and disposal.

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