In 1998, DOE established the Nuclear Energy Research Advisory Committee (NERAC) to provide advice to the Secretary and to the Director, Office of Nuclear Energy, Science, and Technology (NE), on the broad range of non-defense DOE nuclear technology programs. The NERAC recommended development of a long-range R&D program. This R&D plan is a result of that recommendation and is the first of what is expected to be an iterated series of long-range plans for nuclear energy in the Department of Energy.
This document constitutes the first edition of a long-term research and development (R&D) plan for nuclear technology in the United States. The federally-sponsored nuclear technology programs of the United States are almost exclusively the province of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The nuclear energy areas in DOE include, but are not limited to, R&D related to power reactors and the responsibility for the waste management system for final disposition of the spent fuel resulting from nuclear power reactors.
Isotopes, including both radioactive and stable isotopes, make important contributions to research, medicine, and industry in the United States and throughout the world. For nearly fifty years, the Department of Energy (DOE) has actively promoted the use of isotopes by funding (a) production of isotopes at a number of national laboratories with unique nuclear reactors or particle accelerators, (b) nuclear medicine research at the laboratories and in academia, (c) research into industrial applications of isotopes, and (d) research into isotope production and processing methods.
Nuclear engineering programs and departments with an initial emphasis in fission were formed in the late 1950’s and 1960’s from interdisciplinary efforts in many of the top research universities, providing the manpower for this technical discipline. In the same time period, for many of these programs, university nuclear reactors were constructed and began their operation, providing some of the facilities needed for research and training of students engaged in this profession. However, over the last decade, the U.S.
"Even though one cannot anticipate the answers in basic research, the return on the public's investment can be maximized through long-range planning of the most promising avenues to explore and the resources needed to explore them." (p. v) "Pursuit of this goal entails developing new technologies and advanced facilities, educating young scientists, training a technical workforce, and contributing to the broader science and technology enterprise?." (p. vi) Ref:: "Nuclear Science: A Long Range Plan", DOE/NSF, Feb. 1996.
The Expert Panel has concluded that the Department of Energy and National Institutes of Health must develop the capability to produce a diverse supply of radioisotopes for medical use in quantities sufficient to support research and clinical activities. Such a capability would prevent shortages of isotopes, reduce American dependence on foreign radionuclide sources and stimulate biomedical research. The expert panel recommends that the U.S.