Off-Gas Treatment Process for Conditioning and Recycling Facilities

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Charlotte, North Carolina
Project Term:
01/23/2022 - 01/25/2025

Critical Need:

The next generation of advanced nuclear reactors (ARs) is currently being developed to enhance the safety, reduce the cost, and increase the efficiency of nuclear power generation, which is important to meeting greenhouse gas (GHG) emission goals. Challenges associated with disposal pathways of waste, such as used nuclear fuel (UNF), however, threaten AR development and deployment. ONWARDS seeks to develop and demonstrate breakthrough technologies that will facilitate a 10x reduction in AR waste volume generation or repository footprint. In addition, ONWARDS aims to advance development of high-performance AR waste forms while maintaining exemplary safeguards standards and global back-end costs in the accepted range of $1/megawatt-hour.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

Orano Federal Services will develop an off-gas treatment unit that can be modified to align with the off-gases produced from the upstream AR fuel processing system. Orano will design “plug and play” treatment units that can be connected to the off-gas exhausts from: (1) a pyro-processing recycling plant treating AR UNF; (2) a plant designed to condition AR UNF in preparation for disposal; and (3) a molten salt reactor with in-line processing of its liquid fuel. This same off-gas treatment concept could also be applied on a recycling plant using an aqueous separations process. The concept can be optimized to capture regulated off-gases and employ treatment processes for waste forms suitable for disposal or long-term decay storage.

Potential Impact:

By identifying and addressing challenges at the back end of the fuel cycle before the deployment of future AR technologies, ONWARDS will:


Support the growth of advanced nuclear energy with safe and sustainable domestic fuel stocks.


Play a vital role in significantly reducing GHG emissions, proactively mitigate the disposal impact of AR UNF with integrated non-proliferation safeguards, and provide transformative solutions to improve the management and disposal of radioactive waste and UNF.


Complement ARPA-E’s existing nuclear energy research portfolio, such as the MEITNER and GEMINA programs in AR R&D, further ensuring the commercial viability of innovative new ARs.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Robert Ledoux
Project Contact:
Dr. Sven Bader
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Orano SA
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

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