The R&D activities under the Nuclear Energy Enabling Technology (NEET) program will address revolutionary improvements in safety, performance, reliability, economics, and proliferation risk reduction and promote creative solutions to the broad array of nuclear energy challenges related to reactor and fuel cycle development. The activities undertaken in this program complement those within the Reactor Concepts Research Development & Demonstration and Fuel Cycle R&D programs.
The knowledge generated through these activities will allow Nuclear Energy (NE) to address key challenges affecting nuclear reactor and fuel cycle deployment (e.g., capital cost, technology risks, and proliferation concerns). Further, these activities will enable nuclear power to continue to be a key component of our energy portfolio and help to achieve energy security and greenhouse gas emission reduction objectives of the United States.
The Crosscutting Technology Development (CTD) will undertake high risk research to overcome current technological limitations. Improved material performance has the potential to enable greater reactor temperatures, new reactor designs, and/or new reactor missions. New classes of alloys and materials, not yet considered for reactor performance, may enable transformational reactor performance. New instrumentation and sensor technologies for monitoring conditions in existing and advanced nuclear power plants, as well as within their fuel cycles, will improve physical measurement accuracy and reduce uncertainty. Innovative nuclear manufacturing methods will reduce the cost and schedule of constructing new nuclear plants and make fabrication of nuclear power plant components faster, cheaper, and more reliable. Better understanding and quantification of proliferation risks will improve the technical and policy choices associated with the nuclear fuel cycle. Improving the accuracy of nuclear data and the use of advanced modeling and simulation tools and capabilities will contribute to improved safety and improved design processes without unneeded conservatism.
The Energy Innovation Hub for Modeling and Simulation will apply existing modeling and simulation capabilities to create a “virtual” reactor user environment for engineers to simulate a currently operating reactor. This approach will provide a detailed, validated reactor performance predictive capability for use by engineers to address performance and safety issues related to power “uprates” and life extensions for current reactors. The National Scientific User Facility will support strategic partnerships to allow university and other researchers access to unique capabilities to advance cutting-edge research in materials and nuclear fuels.