DOE Announces $48 Million For New Program to Securely and Economically Recycle Used Nuclear Fuel

ARPA-E Unveils Converting UNF Radioisotopes Into Energy (CURIE) Program to Improve Nation’s Energy Security, Protect the Environment & Support U.S. Economy

WASHINGTON, D.C. —  The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced up to $48 million in funding for a new Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program that will support the deployment of Advanced Nuclear Reactor (AR) technology by providing safe and sustainable domestic fuel stocks. The Converting UNF Radioisotopes Into Energy (CURIE) program focuses on substantially reducing the disposal impact of used nuclear fuel (UNF) and supporting a comprehensive national strategy to deal with waste safely and securely. “CURIE will fuel advanced reactors and provide important clean energy elements, all while drastically reducing waste,” said Dr. Jennifer Gerbi, Acting Director of ARPA-E. “With this new program, we’re emphasizing safeguards and lowered costs as we provide clean energy technology options for the future.” CURIE seeks to develop innovative separations, online monitoring, and materials accountancy technologies that would support the domestic production of AR fuel feedstocks or important commercial radioisotopes and critical minerals.  CURIE also aims to support system design studies related to fuel recycling, separations technologies with improved proliferation resistance, and minimization of waste volumes. Enabling the secure, economical recycling of UNF, by using UNF as new fuel for ARs, would improve resource utilization and drastically reduce the volume of nuclear waste that requires permanent disposal. These technologies could also substantially reduce the heat load and radiotoxicity of waste requiring permanent disposal while providing a valuable and sustainable fuel feedstock for advanced fast reactors. Unveiled during Women’s History Month, CURIE is named to honor pioneering physicist and chemist Marie Curie. It joins ARPA-E’s other programs supporting AR development, including MEITNER—whose namesake Lise Meitner discovered fission and the element protactinium—GEMINA, and ONWARDS

You can find out more information on the CURIE funding opportunity and access details on how to apply on ARPA-E eXCHANGE.