This Exploratory Topic would leverage innovations supporting nuclear energy for the development of technologies that will reduce the cost of nuclear energy. These projects seek to develop advancements in nuclear facility sensors, tools, analytics and controls.
The next generation of nuclear reactor plants needs innovative, safe, and secure technologies to supplement advanced reactor designs. A variety of advanced nuclear reactor designs are being developed in the U.S., and they require a variety of design options to meet future market needs.
Projects funded within this Exploratory Topic will work concurrently with teams selected under the following ARPA-E program(s):
Projects Funded Within This Exploratory Topic
NATIONAL ENERGY TECHNOLOGY LABORATORY
DISTRIBUTED NUCLEAR REACTOR CORE MONITORING WITH SINGLE-CRYSTAL HARSH-ENVIRONMENT OPTICAL FIBERS
NETL seeks to produce a novel fiber-optic sensor system for monitoring advanced nuclear reactors that will permit operators to view conditions inside molten-salt cooling loops and inside reactor cores simultaneously and in real-time. This high level of data visibility will enable advanced automation in new reactor systems, and enable design engineers to accelerate the deployment of new reactor designs for commercial use.
SOUTHERN RESEARCH INSTITUTE
MACHINE LEARNING FOR AUTOMATED MAINTENANCE OF FUTURE MSR
Southern Research Institute proposes to transition most reactor maintenance activities from being done manually to people overseeing autonomous maintenance robotic systems, to reduce costs and avoid personnel exposure to radiation. To achieve this level of control, robots will be trained in a virtual environment through the use of virtual reality and machine learning to perform routine maintenance.
NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY
A DATA-DRIVEN APPROACH TO HIGH PRECISION CONSTRUCTION AND REDUCED OVERNIGHT COST AND SCHEDULE
NC State proposes to develop an innovative virtual environment to digitally manage the performance of nuclear construction. The team envisions this construction performance modeling and simulation (CPMS) environment will facilitate automated inspections of components and subsystems before shipping, which will reduce construction staffing levels, improve supply chain efficiency, and prevent delays due to quality and compatibility issues.
IDAHO NATIONAL LABORATORY
NEXT-GENERATION METAL FUEL
INL and its partners are proposing a next generation metal fuel in support of a megawatt-scale compact fast reactor – being developed by Oklo Inc – that is uniquely sized for off-grid applications. The team seeks to develop a fuel with a demonstrated production process and validated performance that incorporates engineered porosity to absorb and retain produced gasses, allowing for higher operating temperatures, as well as a diffusion barrier between the fuel alloy and the cladding to avoid material degradation, which removes the need for the complicated-to-manufacture sodium bond between fuel and cladding.