Generating Electricty Managed by Intelligent Nuclear Assets (GEMINA)


Funding Opportunity ID: 321220
Opportunity Number: DE-FOA-0002174
Opportunity Title: Generating Electricty Managed by Intelligent Nuclear Assets (GEMINA)
Opportunity Category: Discretionary
Opportunity Category Explanation:
Funding Instrument Type: Cooperative Agreement
Category of Funding Activity: Science and Technology and other Research and Development
Category Explanation:
CFDA Number(s): 81.135
Eligible Applicants: Unrestricted (i.e., open to any type of entity above), subject to any clarification in text field entitled “Additional Information on Eligibility”
Additional Information on Eligibility: See Section III of the FOA.
Agency Code: DOE-ARPAE
Agency Name: Department of Energy
Advanced Research Projects Agency Energy
Posted Date: Oct 02, 2019
Close Date: Nov 13, 2019 Applicants are strongly encouraged to submit their applications at least 48 hours in advance of the submission deadline
Last Updated Date: Oct 02, 2019
Award Ceiling: $10,000,000
Award Floor: $250,000
Estimated Total Program Funding: $35,000,000
Expected Number of Awards: 15
Description: Generating Electricity Managed by Intelligent Nuclear Assets(GEMINA) Agency Overview: The Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E), an organization within the Department of Energy (DOE), is chartered by Congress in the America COMPETES Act of 2007 (P.L. 110-69), as amended by the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-358) to: “(A) to enhance the economic and energy security of the United States through the development of energy technologies that result in— (i) reductions of imports of energy from foreign sources; (ii) reductions of energy-related emissions, including greenhouse gases; and (iii) improvement in the energy efficiency of all economic sectors; and (B) to ensure that the United States maintains a technological lead in developing and deploying advanced energy technologies.” ARPA-E issues this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) under the programmatic authorizing statute codified at 42 U.S.C. § 16538. The FOA and any awards made under this FOA are subject to 2 C.F.R. Part 200 as amended by 2 C.F.R. Part 910. ARPA-E funds research on and the development of high-potential, high-impact energy technologies that are too early for private-sector investment. The agency focuses on technologies that can be meaningfully advanced with a modest investment over a defined period of time in order to catalyze the translation from scientific discovery to early-stage technology. For the latest news and information about ARPA-E, its programs and the research projects currently supported, see: Program Overview: The aim of this ARPA-E program is to make a transformational change to the current state-of-the-art and improve advanced reactor (AR) designs with operations and maintenance (O&M) in mind. Advances in autonomous, efficient, and low-cost systems O&M are occurring in many industrial sectors, largely powered by artificial intelligence (AI), advanced data analytics, distributed computing, powerful physics simulation tools, and other technical breakthroughs. To date, little of this advancement has been adopted by the nuclear energy industry. There is a crucial need to design and execute extremely robust and low-cost operations and maintenance procedures for ARs. Most analysts conclude that the low-carbon electricity grids of the future will be most easily and economically achieved by including firm low-carbon resources such as nuclear energy. However, existing light water nuclear power plants are facing the significant challenge of having comparatively high fixed O&M costs and new builds of large light water reactors (LWRs) have historically been drastically over schedule and budget in the U.S. and Western Europe. Advanced reactors offer a compelling solution option as they can provide enhanced flexibility, a range of power generation outputs, lower capital costs and shorter construction schedules, high temperatures for industrial heating use, and strong safety cases. For a decarbonized future, we need to ensure that AR construction and operating costs are competitive and the plants are flexible to operate. To accomplish this goal, ARPA-E seeks interdisciplinary teams to develop digital twins (DTs), or a technology with similar capability, for an AR design as the foundation of the team’s O&M strategy. The digital twins (or equivalent) and associated O&M approaches the teams will develop will include diverse technologies that are driving efficiencies in other industries, such as AI, advanced control systems, predictive maintenance, and model-based fault detection. Because ARs are still in design phases, with no physical units operating, teams working on core operations will also develop cyber-physical systems (CPS) that simulate advanced reactor plant operating dynamics using a combination of non-nuclear experimental facilities (e.g., flow loops) and software. Teams will use these systems as the “real asset,” a surrogate upon which developers can test their DT platforms for operations and maintenance. CPS may also provide validation data for regimes for conditions with high uncertainty. Teams focusing on activities outside the reactor core are encouraged to identify appropriate test systems and data. ARPA-E will also support research for filling specific technical gaps to enable the O&M strategies. This program lays the basis for a future where ARs operate with a staffing plan and fixed O&M costs more akin to that of a combined cycle natural gas plant than that of the legacy LWR fleet. Beyond providing lower fixed O&M costs, development of DTs for ARs has multiple other benefits. In particular, ARPA-E sees DT development contributing to the following areas: • Reactor design. Detailed designs and operational frameworks for ARs are under active development, meaning that there is an especially rich opportunity to develop the technologies for low-cost and efficient operations and maintenance right now. Insights from O&M strategies can inform design-related improvements to enhance system reliability and flexibility, streamline or eliminate maintenance procedures, and reduce the amount of operator input. ARPA-E anticipates many opportunities for cost reduction and performance improvement to be identified through the use of DTs. Timely development of optimal O&M strategies is critical so they can be incorporated into the designs of these long-life (40+ yr.) systems, and significantly increase long-term viability. • Regulatory efficiency. Development of simulated operations can potentially result in enhanced understanding of reactor behavior, leading to an improved knowledge set for regulator evaluation of advanced reactors. This may shorten licensing timelines and costs. • De-risking market adoption challenges. Presently, most ARs base O&M cost estimates on reference points rooted in LWRs, which feature different materials, operating temperatures, and fuels than proposed ARs. The absence of AR-specific operating cost data inhibits pro-forma assessments of overall reactor operating costs. This program can provide more specific and concrete detail for cost estimation so utility companies and investor groups can create robust estimates of levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) to ultimately drive investment decisions. Cost models also help identify the key elements of the supply chain that must be developed for manufacturing scale up. • Standards. Compliance with a multiplicity of standards is a critical cost driver in LWRs and will likely be so in ARs. Information from this program could help inform the development of technically-based, risk-based NQA-1 standards (nuclear quality assurance standards) as they apply specifically to ARs. Developing these standards now will provide certainty so developers can design to the standards instead of having to perform rework in the future. • Training. When ARs near deployment, tools and training platforms will be required to teach operators how to run the asset under realistic conditions and aid regulators in their certification processes. The DTs developed here could contribute to that training. To obtain a copy of the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) please go to the ARPA-E website at ARPA-E will not review or consider concept papers or full applications submitted through other means. For detailed guidance on using ARPA-E eXCHANGE, please refer to the ARPA-E eXCHANGE User Guide (
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