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WASHINGTON, DC - The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy Dennis Spurgeon today announced $15 million in funding is being provided to DOE's Idaho National Laboratory (INL) for new post-irradiation examination (PIE) equipment for advanced fuels development.  State-of-the-art PIE equipment is pivotal in the development strategy for the President's Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) transmutation fuels and will help address complex technical issues.  This investment demonstrates DOE's commitment to furthering the GNEP process, and will bring INL in line with other world-class research and development laboratories with the new equipment.

"We are constantly looking for new and inventive means to help achieve our goal of enabling the United States to effectively recycle spent nuclear fuel in a safe and proliferation-resistant manner.  New post-irradiation examination equipment will help put us one step closer to an improved technological standard while also allowing the U.S. to continue our pursuit of a much-needed nuclear renaissance," Assistant Secretary Spurgeon said. 

This equipment will allow researchers at INL to accurately characterize the behavior of experimental test fuels after they are removed from a reactor.  The accurate and detailed characterization of the fuel from the reactor when used in conjunction with computer modeling will allow DOE to more quickly understand the behavior of the fuel and to guide further development activities.  The traditional approach to fuels testing requires extensive financial commitment, lengthy schedules to complete, and increased technical risk.

INL is using funds from Fiscal Year 2007 (FY'07) to upgrade the characterization and PIE capabilities.  The new equipment and upgrades could include: Mechanical Testing System; NRAD Elevator/Control Console; Met Loading Box Feed-Through; Element Contact Profilometer; and Digital Neuron Radiography, etc.

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Craig Stevens, (202) 586-4940