Department of Energy Announces $35 Million to Develop Tools to Transform Operations and Maintenance of Advanced Nuclear Reactors

ARPA-E Program to Create Tools to Improve Advanced Nuclear Reactor Design

Washington, DC - The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) announced up to $35 million in new funding on Wednesday at the Innovation XLab: Artificial Intelligence Summit in Chicago, IL, for the development of tools and systems that will enable reduced expense and increased flexibility in the operation and maintenance at nuclear power plants.

ARPA-E’s program, Generating Electricity Managed by Intelligent Nuclear Assets (GEMINA) will develop digital twin technology for advanced nuclear reactors, using artificial intelligence and advanced modeling controls to create tools that introduce greater flexibility in nuclear reactor systems, increased autonomy in operations, and faster design iteration. The development of these digital twins will work towards a 10x reduction of operating and management (O&M) costs at advanced reactor power plants.

“Experts agree that a realistic reduced carbon energy ecosystem must include nuclear power, and there is a tremendous innovation opportunity to develop more effective and lower-cost advanced nuclear reactors,” said ARPA-E Director Lane Genatowski. “The GEMINA program will continue to further U.S. leadership in advanced reactor design to enable safe, reliable, dispatchable nuclear power that increases electric power system resiliency.”

The GEMINA program will work to transform O&M systems in advanced reactors through the use of predictive maintenance and model-based fault detection. Projects will focus on O&M solutions for the reactor core, balance of plant, or entire reactor plant system, and as there are no advanced reactor units currently operating, teams working on core operations will also develop cyber-physical systems that simulate advanced reactor core operating dynamics using a combination of non-nuclear experimental facilities. These approaches will be encouraged throughout the project selections across the program.

For the full Department of Energy release on advancing artificial intelligence at Innovation XLab, click here.

To learn more about ARPA-E’s GEMINA program click here and to apply for funding, visit ARPA-E EXCHANGE.