Blog Posts
We sat down with ARPA-E Program Director, Dr. Rachel Slaybaugh, as she reflected on her experience attending the very first ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit Student Program back in 2010.

Blog Posts
Women have always been at the forefront of scientific discovery, seeking new technical horizons from physics to chemistry and everywhere in between. As Women’s History Month draws to a close, ARPA-E honors the inspirational women at the heart of our own mission to chart new courses in how we use, generate, and store energy.

Slick Sheet: Program

Slick Sheet: Project
The University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) will develop a fuel processing system that enables load-following in molten salt reactors (MSRs), an important ability that allows nuclear power plants to ramp electricity production up or down to meet changing electricity demand. Nuclear reactions in MSRs produce unwanted byproducts (such as xenon and krypton) that can adversely affect power production. In steady, baseload operation, these byproducts form and decay at the same rate.

Slick Sheet: Project
Westinghouse Electric Company will develop a self-regulating "solid core block" (SCB) that employs solid material (instead of bulk liquid flow or moving parts) to passively regulate the reaction rate in a micro-scale nuclear reactor. The project aims for the reactor to achieve safe shutdown without the need for additional controls, external power sources, or operator intervention, enabling highly autonomous operation.

Slick Sheet: Project
HolosGen is developing a transportable gas-cooled nuclear reactor with load following ability. The reactor concept is essentially a closed-loop jet engine (Brayton cycle) with the typical combustor replaced by a nuclear heat source. The nuclear heat source is comprised of multiple subcritical power modules (SPMs) that only produce power when they are positioned in close proximity, allowing sufficient neutron transfer to reach criticality (steady-state). The modules will be positioned using an exoskeletal structure with fast-actuation technologies currently employed by the aviation industry.

Slick Sheet: Project
The University at Buffalo, the State University of New York (SUNY) will develop seismic protective systems to safeguard essential and safety-class components inside nuclear power plants. Currently, these systems and components are custom-produced for each new plant, with multiple designs often needed for a given plant. Earthquake considerations may add up to 35% to the overnight capital cost for new plant designs in regions of moderate to high seismic hazard. This project will develop and implement modular systems to protect individual components from earthquake shaking effects.

Slick Sheet: Project
North Carolina State University (NC State) will develop a highly automated management and control system for advanced nuclear reactors. The system will provide operations recommendations to staff during all modes of plant operation except shutdown operations. Using an artificial-intelligence (AI) guided system enabling continuous extensive monitoring of plant status, knowledge of current component status, and plant parameter trends, the system will continuously predict near-term behavior within the plant and recommend a course of action to plant personnel.

Slick Sheet: Project
Yellowstone Energy will develop a new passive control technology to enhance safety and reduce nuclear power plant costs. The team's Reactivity Control Device (RCD) will integrate with the Yellowstone Energy Molten Nitrate Salt Reactor and other advanced reactor designs. The RCD will use fluid embedded in the reactor’s control rods to control reaction rates at elevated temperatures, even in the absence of external controls. As the heating from fission increases or decreases, the fluid density will automatically and passively respond to control the system.

Slick Sheet: Project
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and the University of Tennessee are developing and performance testing an innovative prototype pump for a small, modular, advanced molten salt nuclear reactor (MSR). The reliability of fuel salt circulation pumps is important to MSR commercial deployment since these pumps must operate leak-free for years at high temperature and in an extreme radiation environment. Present generation pumps are restricted to long vertical shafts with bearings located above the salt line, decreasing both pump lifetime and efficiency.