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WASHINGTON, DC - The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced it will award $5.7 million to nine universities for research grants under the Nuclear Energy Research Initiative (NERI).  These grants are designed to engage U.S. university professors and students in advanced nuclear energy research and development (R&D), in an effort to strengthen and focus DOE's research for the Generation IV Nuclear Energy Systems Initiative and the Nuclear Hydrogen Initiative.

 "These awards demonstrate our commitment to pursuing nuclear research, and we are eager for our next generation of scientists and engineers to make scientific breakthroughs that will help diversify our nation's energy sources," DOE Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy Dennis Spurgeon said. "Supporting education and training is critical to developing secure, competitive and environmentally responsible nuclear technologies to serve the present and future energy needs of the United States."

These grants support innovative research that ensures a bright future for nuclear energy in the United States, and build upon President Bush's American Competitiveness Initiative, which aims to strengthen our nation's ability to compete in the global economy.  Combined with today's announcement, DOE has funded a total of 70 NERI projects since 2005, totaling $38.6 million.  In Fiscal Year 2008, DOE's budget request will include $35.6 million in research that will be awarded to universities through NERI grants - as part of DOE's Generation IV Nuclear Energy Initiative, the Nuclear Hydrogen Initiative, and the Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative - to further support advanced nuclear energy R&D.

Selected universities will contribute to the development of advanced nuclear technologies through a variety of projects (listed below) that will reduce our nation's reliance on fossil fuels and their associated environmental impact.  Award amounts are still subject to negotiation and are expected to be determined and announced in May 2007.  Each project's lead university will contribute an additional 20 percent cost share, totaling $7.4 million.

Projects announced today were selected to receive awards on the basis of rigorous peer review of 79 proposals submitted by universities across the United States.  The selected projects will be conducted at nine universities in eight states.  One of these universities - Washington University in St. Louis - is participating for the first time as the lead research institution for a NERI project.

The following university teams will receive awards:

Generation IV Nuclear Energy Initiative
University of California-Santa Barbara Santa Barbara, CA  Establishing a Scientific Basis for Optimizing Compositions, processing paths and fabrication methods for nanostructured ferritic alloys for use in advanced fission energy systems

Georgia Institute of Technology

Atlanta, GA An Advanced Integrated Diffusion/Transport Method for the Design, Analysis and Optimization of the Very-High Temperature Reactors
Idaho National Laboratory Idaho Falls, ID
Pennsylvania State University State College, PA 
University of Illinois-Urbana Urbana-Champaign, IL Materials and Design Methodology for Very High Temperature Nuclear Systems
Stress Engineering Services Houston, TX
North Carolina State University Raleigh, NC Implications of Graphite Radiation Damage on the Neutronic, Operational, and Safety Aspects of Very-High Temperature Reactors 
Oak Ridge National Laboratory  Oak Ridge, TN
Idaho National Laboratory Idaho Falls, ID
Texas Engineering Experiment Station (Texas A&M)  College Station, TX Experimental and CFD Analysis of Advanced Convective Cooling Systems
Washington University in St. Louis St. Louis, MO  Advancing the Fundamental Understanding and Scale-up of TRISO Fuel Coaters Via Advanced Measurement and Computational Techniques

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Madison, WI Fission Product Transport in TRISO-Coated Particle Fuels: Multi-Scale Modeling and Experiment

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Madison, WI

Emissivity of Candidate Materials for VHTR Applications: Role of Oxidation and Surface Modification Treatments


Nuclear Hydrogen Initiative

University of California- Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA Optimization of Heat Exchangers
University of Wisconsin-Madison Madison, WI  Liquid Salts as Media for Process Heat Transfer from VHTRs: Forced Convective Channel Flow Thermal Hydraulics, Materials, and Coatings

For additional information on these awards visit:

Media contact(s):

Craig Stevens, (202) 586-4940