Auburn University receives $1 million in grants from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Auburn University receives $1 million in grants from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Auburn University has received two grants for research related to nuclear energy. (Getty Images)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Monday awarded Auburn University two grants totaling nearly $1 million out of about $5.5 million awarded nationwide for research and development.

Auburn is receiving $500,000 for “a high-throughput approach to establish the regulatory basis for qualifying laser additive manufactured stainless steel for nuclear applications,” the NRC said. Auburn was awarded a $499,999 grant for “development of a soil-structure-interaction framework in support to enhance regulatory oversight for small modular reactors.”

Auburn is one of nine universities receiving the NRC funding. Auburn and the University of Texas were the only institutions awarded two grants. Other universities receiving the awards are Cincinnati, Indiana, Kansas State, Purdue, South Carolina, Virginia and Virginia Commonwealth. Most of the grants were for about $500,000.

“The NRC is thrilled to offer grant opportunities that support future-focused research aimed at helping the agency prepare for upcoming challenges,” said Raymond Furstenau, director of the NRC Office of Research. “The number of responses received to the funding opportunity announcement has been outstanding. The grants program encourages careers and research in the nuclear sector, providing expertise to keep our nuclear facilities and materials safe and secure in the future.”

The intent of the grants is to develop a workforce capable of supporting the design, construction, operation and regulation of nuclear facilities, and the safe handling of nuclear materials.

Furstenau said the grants support research and development activities for nuclear science, engineering, technology and related disciplines. The remainder of the 2021 funding authorized by Congress is about $10 million for scholarships, fellowships, trade schools/community colleges and faculty development, and will be distributed by the end of May 2022.

The NRC announces grant opportunities on www.grants.gov, which enables the public to find and apply for federal funding opportunities. A panel of expert reviewers, from academia and the NRC, evaluates the grant proposals. The panel composition is diverse, with most reviewers having experience reviewing proposals for government agencies and advanced credentials in nuclear engineering, health physics, radiochemistry, or related disciplines. All panelists must certify no conflict of interest for the proposals they evaluate.

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