The Crosscutting Technology Development (CTD) subprogram competitively awards innovative R&D to U.S. industry, U.S. universities, and national laboratories to develop innovative solutions to crosscutting nuclear energy technology challenges, with a focus on resolving U.S. industry nuclear technology development issues and fill critical gaps. The CTD subprogram focuses on innovative research that directly supports and enables the development of new, next-generation reactor designs and fuel cycle technologies. CTD provides the technologies needed to maintain the current fleet of nuclear reactors and the innovative technology needed to support the development of advanced reactors that will increase the domestic nuclear reactor pipeline. CTD is coordinated with NE’s other R&D programs to ensure that developed technologies and capabilities are part of an integrated investment strategy aimed at improving safety, reliability, and economics of U.S. nuclear technologies.
The Advanced Sensors and Instrumentation (ASI) program conducts research to develop and deploy innovative and advanced sensors and instrumentation technologies that address critical technology gaps for monitoring and controlling advanced reactors and fuel cycle facilities.
- Support DOE-NE R&D programmatic needs and the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) Initiative
- Provide new capabilities for measurement and control
- Address R&D needs for successful deployment
Role: Coordinate crosscutting I&C research among NE programs to avoid duplication and leverage resources
The NEET ASI program has identified four strategic I&C areas of research that represent key capabilities for nuclear energy systems, fuel cycle facilities, and that are needed to support materials test reactor irradiation-based research. These strategic areas are:
- Advanced Sensors. To develop and qualify new sensor capabilities and methods to detect and monitor behavior of reactor and fuel cycle systems and of desired parameters in integral tests to achieve needed accuracy and minimize measurement uncertainty.
- Digital Monitoring and Control. To enhance monitoring of process variables and implementation of control actions that increase system reliability, availability, and resilience.
- Nuclear Plant Communication. To research and develop communications technologies needed to support greater data generation and transmission demands expected to accompany advancements in digital sensor, measurement, and control technologies while maintaining reliability, resiliency, and data security.
- Advanced Concepts of Operation. To develop and test advanced concepts of operation for future nuclear energy systems designed to achieve highly automated control, where new human and system interaction is defined.
ASI project information, including award summaries and ASI newsletters, can be found in the ASI Documents.
Advanced Methods for Manufacturing (AMM) conducts R&D to accelerate innovations that reduce the cost and schedule of constructing new nuclear plants, and to make fabrication of nuclear power plant components faster, cheaper, and more reliable. Based on past industry work and new stakeholder input, this effort will focus on opportunities that provide simplified, standardized, and labor-saving outcomes for manufacturing, fabrication, assembly, and construction processes (both technologies and methods) and that show the most promise in shortening timelines and lowering overall deployment costs.
By evaluating state-of-the-art practices found in other large manufacturing industries, the nuclear community has identified six major areas of innovation that AMM is currently helping to advance. These areas of innovation are:
- Welding and Joining Technologies. New technologies focused on high-speed, high-quality and code-acceptable welds are needed in both factory and field fabrications. Electron beam and laser welding are examples of technologies needed to join heavy section components to improve their efficiency. Online, non-destructive testing that can provide real-time, or near real-time, feedback on the quality of the weld would improve the productivity in both the shop and the field.
- Additive Manufacturing. This process, compared to subtractive manufacturing, utilizes lasers, electron beams, friction stir welding or conventional technologies to fuse thin layers of solid or powdered material in a precise two-dimensional pattern to create a nearnet shape component provided by computer-aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) information. Additively manufactured components could provide necessary cost and schedule savings over conventionally manufactured components.
- Modular Fabrication. This concept will move new nuclear reactor builds away from “piece built” fabrication and construction techniques and allow them to be built economically. The modules must be factory-built, transportable, capable of precise placement, engineered to their function in their environment, and easily mated to form a single entity.
- Concrete Materials and Rebar Innovations. High-strength, high-performance concrete and rebar will both improve the quality and reduce the construction time required for new nuclear power plants. Advancements that enable integrated prefabrication of reinforced steelform assemblies will also help to move new builds away from the conventional "stick builds."
- Data Configuration Management. Complex civil and mechanical designs, and the systems they make up, need to maintain their design configuration for the duration of construction and the operational life of the facility. Digital gathering of data and multidimensional data capture are tools that can help maintain that design and assist in design control when modifications are necessary.
- Surface Modification and Cladding Processes. Cladding and surface modification techniques in current nuclear components are typically applied through some form of welding, a process that melts one material into another. This causes unique alloys at the interface. These material differences are the cause of many surface and sub-surface flaws. Avoiding melting by using solid state, cold spray or other bonding processes can eliminate the welded clad problems.
AMM Project information, including Award Summaries and AMM Newsletters, can be found in the AMM Documents.
The primary goal of NE's Hybrid Energy Systems (HES) program is to expand the role of nuclear energy beyond just supplying electricity to the grid to include supplying energy to various industrial, transportation, and energy storage applications. The program seeks to accomplish this goal through the development of integrated energy systems that include multiple energy inputs (nuclear, renewable, and fossil), energy users (grid energy consumers, industrial heat or electricity users, and transportation fuel users), and mass energy storage.
Potential benefits of HES include increased use of clean nuclear and renewable energy course, as well as by conversion of coal and natural gas into liquid or hydrogen transportation fuels, providing the most economic mix of energy sources across daily and seasonal demand cycle, and increasing our ability to provide stable and reliable energy to industrial, commercial, transportation and residential consumers through supply diversification. Additionally, as more advanced reactor technologies come into the marketplace (e.g., high-temperature reactors), even more opportunities will arise for integrating these innovative energy systems into existing or newly designed industrial infrastructure.
NE's HES program activities are being coordinated with DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), with the support of Idaho National Laboratory, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Focused research and development of technology options through complementary research programs, will enable a more efficient, environmentally sustainable energy sector in the future.
NE launched the Nuclear Cyber Security R&D Program in 2015. Its mission is to produce cost-effective solutions for cyber threats to the nuclear industry. The Nuclear Energy Cyber Security R&D Program pursues four major research pathways (shown in the table below) that individually and collectively improve the protections against and reduce the impacts from potential cyber-attacks. The program is executed at the Sandia and Idaho National Laboratories in collaboration with the Electric Power Research Institute.
|Cyber Risk Management||Research into threat informed (known and potential future), science-based and experimentally validated risk methodologies for managing cyber threat to nuclear enterprises||Nuclear operators have access to an experimentally validated and bounded threat model for nuclear facilities and risk-based processes to inform enterprise decisions related to secure use of digital assets.|
|Secure Architectures||Establish a science-based foundation to inform the fundamental architectural features, digital design requirements and standards for nuclear facility digital systems, both current and future||Nuclear facility digital system developers have a science-based foundation, process and strategy to inform the fundamental architectural features, digital design requirements and standards for a secure architecture|
|Modeling and Simulation||Develop at-scale, emulation systems and solutions that support R&D experimentation, human-in-the-loop demonstration testing and validation, risk and consequence assessment||Operators, educators, researchers and vendors have access to "at-scale" emulation systems and solutions for system design, experimentation, testing and training for risk, consequence, and impact assessment of the effectiveness of cyber defenses|
|Supply Chain Cyber Security Assurance||Deliver science-based tools, methodologies, and procedures for cyber-resistant supply chains, procurement standards and supplier validation||Vendors and asset owners have a suite of robust and adaptive technology tools, methodologies, and procedures for sustaining a cyber-resistant supply chain, science-based procurement standards, and controlled supplier information access|