U.S. Department of Energy Awards Grant to UC s Maldonado

The $400,000 three-year research proposal is for “BWR Assembly Optimization for Minor Actinide Recycling.”

“The primary objective of this project is to apply and extend the latest advancements in light-water reactor (LWR) fuel management optimization to design advanced boiling water reactor (BWR) fuel assemblies for the recycling of minor actinides,” explains Maldonado.

Fission products and elements that are heavier than uranium are key components of what makes up high-level radioactive nuclear waste. Among some of the most toxic and long-lived transuranic elements are “minor actinides” such as neptunium, americium and curium. (“Transuranic” means those elements that are heavier than uranium, a very heavy element in itself.)

Maldonado in his lab.

Maldonado in his lab.

“It is a well-substantiated theory that selective (and substantial) elimination of minor actinides extracted from spent fuel can ultimately promote significant reductions in the magnitude and duration of the toxicity and heat load of a high-level waste repository,” says Maldonado.

In announcing the awards, outgoing Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham cited the importance of the research being funded.

“The awards we announce today will bring us a step closer to a better, more secure energy future and also help develop the scientists and engineers that will keep the United States at the forefront of technology well into the future,” said Abraham. The DOE announced altogether 35 research awards at 25 universities. The approximate $21 million is to be directed to major nuclear energy research and development programs. DOE will now negotiate with the universities to determine specific terms and award dates. Additional information on other educational initiatives sponsored by the DOE Office of Nuclear Energy, Science and Technology are available at www.nuclear.gov.

Related links:

Official DOE announcement

List of projects selected

UC College of Engineering story 

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