U.S. Department of Energy Awards $2.04 Million to Rensselaer Nuclear Engineering Program
More than $2 million in funding from the U.S. Department of
Energy will strengthen nuclear research and education, and help
develop the next generation of nuclear technology at Rensselaer
The grants will support two research projects within the
Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, & Nuclear Engineering,
fund improvements in laboratory space, and provide scholarships
in nuclear engineering.
“This is good news for our nuclear program, and
further evidence that we’re at the leading edge of nuclear
research and education,” said Timothy Wei, professor and head
of the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, & Nuclear
Engineering. “The nuclear program has been growing both in
terms of student numbers, faculty strength, and research over
the last five years.”
The two research projects – with total funding of nearly
$1.3 million – focus on improving the nuclear fuel cycle and
developing the next generation of nuclear reactors.
The Department of Energy (DOE) awarded $810,141 for a
project, led by Professor Yaron Danon, to develop economical
high-efficiency solid-state neutron detectors.
Neutron detectors detect radiation, Wei said, and may be
used in a variety of applications, including detection of
nuclear devices and safeguarding nuclear waste containment.
Currently, expensive and complex thermal neutron detectors
filled with rare He-3 – a form of helium – are used for these
applications. The project will develop a new and inexpensive
neutron detector using techniques similar to those associated
with computer chip manufacture.
The DOE also awarded $475,005 for a project – led by
Professor Michael Podowski – to develop and validate
multidimensional models of supercritical CO-2 energy conversion
systems for nuclear power reactors.
“Essentially what they’re looking at are performance and
safety issues associated with next-generation reactor designs,”
Wei said. “These are design and feasibility studies necessary
for revolutionary new nuclear reactor design concepts.”
In awarding the research funding, U.S. Secretary of Energy
Steven Chu said “we are taking action to restart the nuclear
industry as part of a broad approach to cut carbon pollution
and create new clean energy jobs. These projects will help us
develop the nuclear technologies of the future and move our
domestic nuclear industry forward.”
Through the Nuclear Energy University Program, Rensselaer
also will receive scholarship and fellowship funding of
$450,000 over three years, and $300,000 toward new research and
development and teaching laboratory experiments.
Chu said the funds are part of efforts to build a clean
energy economy and create new clean energy jobs.
“To ensure American leadership in the global nuclear
energy industry, we need a skilled workforce for years to
come,” Chu said. “This investment will give our students
the support and resources they need to advance nuclear energy
and keep America at the forefront of the nuclear industry.”
For more information, view the Department of Energy press
releases on University-led
Nuclear Research and Development Projects and on the Nuclear Energy
University Program grant
Contact: Mary L. Martialay
Phone: (518) 276-2146