Optimizing Nuclear Waste and Advanced Reactor Disposal Systems (ONWARDS)

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Funding Opportunity ID:333685
Opportunity Number:DE-FOA-0002530
Opportunity Title:Optimizing Nuclear Waste and Advanced Reactor Disposal Systems (ONWARDS)
Opportunity Category:Discretionary
Opportunity Category Explanation:
Funding Instrument Type:Cooperative Agreement
Grant
Other
Category of Funding Activity:Opportunity Zone Benefits
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.A. of the FOA.
Agency Code:DOE-ARPAE
Agency Name:Department of Energy
Advanced Research Projects Agency Energy
Posted Date:May 19, 2021
Close Date:Jul 09, 2021 Concept Papers are due no later than July 9, 2021 at 9:30 a.m. ET. Applicants are strongly encouraged to submit 48 hours in advance of the due date.
Last Updated Date:May 19, 2021
Award Ceiling:$10,000,000
Award Floor:$250,000
Estimated Total Program Funding:$0
Expected Number of Awards:0
Description:To obtain a copy of the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) please go to the ARPA-E website at https://arpa-e-foa.energy.gov. To apply to this FOA, Applicants must register with and submit application materials through ARPA-E eXCHANGE (https://arpa-e-foa.energy.gov/Registration.aspx). For detailed guidance on using ARPA-E eXCHANGE, please refer to the ARPA-E eXCHANGE User Guide (https://arpa-e-foa.energy.gov/Manuals.aspx). ARPA-E will not review or consider concept papers submitted through other means. For problems with ARPA-E eXCHANGE, email [email protected] (with FOA name and number in the subject line). Questions about this FOA? Check the Frequently Asked Questions available at http://arpa-e.energy.gov/faq. For questions that have not already been answered, email [email protected] 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), as further amended by the Energy Act of 2020 (P.L. 116-260) to: “(A) to enhance the economic and energy security of the United States through the development of energy technologies that— (i) reduce imports of energy from foreign sources; (ii) reduce energy-related emissions, including greenhouse gases; (iii) improve the energy efficiency of all economic sectors; (iv) provide transformative solutions to improve the management, clean-up, and disposal of radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel; and (v) improve the resilience, reliability, and security of infrastructure to produce, deliver, and store energy; 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 its 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 supplemented by 2 C.F.R. Part 910. ARPA-E funds research on and the development of transformative science and technology solutions to address the energy and environmental missions of the Department. 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: http://arpa-e.energy.gov/. ARPA-E funds transformational research. Existing energy technologies generally progress on established “learning curves” where refinements to a technology and the economies of scale that accrue as manufacturing and distribution develop drive down the cost/performance metric in a gradual fashion. This continual improvement of a technology is important to its increased commercial deployment and is appropriately the focus of the private sector or the applied technology offices within DOE. By contrast, ARPA-E supports transformative research that has the potential to create fundamentally new learning curves. ARPA-E technology projects typically start with cost/performance estimates well above the level of an incumbent technology. Given the high risk inherent in these projects, many will fail to progress, but some may succeed in generating a new learning curve with a projected cost/performance metric that is significantly lower than that of the incumbent technology. ARPA-E funds technology with the potential to be disruptive in the marketplace. The mere creation of a new learning curve does not ensure market penetration. Rather, the ultimate value of a technology is determined by the marketplace, and impactful technologies ultimately become disruptive – that is, they are widely adopted and displace existing technologies from the marketplace or create entirely new markets. ARPA-E understands that definitive proof of market disruption takes time, particularly for energy technologies. Therefore, ARPA-E funds the development of technologies that, if technically successful, have clear disruptive potential, e.g., by demonstrating capability for manufacturing at competitive cost and deployment at scale. ARPA-E funds applied research and development. The Office of Management and Budget defines “applied research” as an “original investigation undertaken in order to acquire new knowledge…directed primarily towards a specific practical aim or objective” and defines “experimental development” as “creative and systematic work, drawing on knowledge gained from research and practical experience, which is directed at producing new products or processes or improving existing products or processes.”http://science.energy.gov/). Office of Science national scientific user facilities (http://science.energy.gov/user-facilities/) are open to all researchers, including ARPA-E Applicants and awardees. These facilities provide advanced tools of modern science including accelerators, colliders, supercomputers, light sources and neutron sources, as well as facilities for studying the nanoworld, the environment, and the atmosphere. Projects focused on early-stage R&D for the improvement of technology along defined roadmaps may be more appropriate for support through the DOE applied energy offices including: the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (http://www.eere.energy.gov/), the Office of Fossil Energy (http://fossil.energy.gov/), the Office of Nuclear Energy (http://www.energy.gov/ne/office-nuclear-energy), and the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (http://energy.gov/oe/office-electricity-delivery-and-energy-reliability). Applicants interested in receiving financial assistance for basic research (defined by the Office of Management and Budget as “experimental or theoretical work undertaken primarily to acquire new knowledge of the underlying foundations of phenomena and observable facts”) should contact the DOE’s Office of Science (http://science.energy.gov/). Office of Science national scientific user facilities (http://science.energy.gov/user-facilities/) are open to all researchers, including ARPA-E Applicants and awardees. These facilities provide advanced tools of modern science including accelerators, colliders, supercomputers, light sources and neutron sources, as well as facilities for studying the nanoworld, the environment, and the atmosphere. Projects focused on early-stage R&D for the improvement of technology along defined roadmaps may be more appropriate for support through the DOE applied energy offices including: the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (http://www.eere.energy.gov/), the Office of Fossil Energy (http://fossil.energy.gov/), the Office of Nuclear Energy (http://www.energy.gov/ne/office-nuclear-energy), and the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (http://energy.gov/oe/office-electricity-delivery-and-energy-reliability). Program Overview: The program goal of ONWARDS is to support the development of technologies that address significant challenges to closing the back-end (see Figure 1) of advanced reactor (AR) nuclear fuel cycles. Specifically, projects funded under the ONWARDS Program will develop and demonstrate sustainable technologies that will significantly improve the disposal impact of used nuclear fuel (UNF) and other waste streams stemming from the implementation of AR fuel cycles by developing innovative and cost-effective approaches in reprocessing, material accountancy, and waste forms. ONWARDS metrics include an order-of-magnitude reduction in AR waste volume generation or repository footprint compared to light-water nuclear reactors (LWR), better than 1% fissile-mass accountancy in reprocessing streams, development of high-performance AR waste forms for a variety of potential deep-geological repositories (DGR) and disposal concepts, and costs in the range of $1/megawatt-hour (MWh). This FOA is focused on supporting the development of viable technologies to achieve these metrics. Technical categories of interest are identified in Section I.D of the FOA. Performance targets for the technical categories of interest are provided in Section I.E of the FOA. Section I.F of the FOA provides information on research resources and teaming partnerships that may support Applicants in successfully completing the research and development (R&D) activities necessary to demonstrate the viability of the proposed technology. Early consideration of the back-end of the fuel cycle in the AR design process offers a unique opportunity to develop technologies to improve the disposal impact of AR UNF. ONWARDS addresses both open (once-through, no reprocessing) and closed (reprocessing) AR fuel cycles to capture the widest range of likely fuel cycles and to proactively mitigate the disposal impact of waste streams, waste forms, safety and security issues, and final disposition of AR wastes. This Program seeks to enable proliferation-resistant fuel cycles for ARs with an emphasis on minimizing the impact of AR fuel cycle wastes. ONWARDS will be an important complement to ARPA-E’s existing nuclear energy research portfolio, such as the MEITNER and GEMINA programs in AR R&D, further ensuring the commercial viability of innovative new ARs. Figure 2 below shows the complementary nature of ARPA-E R&D in this space using a hypothetical AR Closed Fuel Cycle example. Although the total volume of wastes from the current and likely future fleets of nuclear reactors is small compared to many other energy resources, the special nature of the wastes (e.g., radioactivity, potential for diversion) have posed challenges that, to date, have not been addressed satisfactorily enough to achieve the final disposition of high-level wastes (HLW) from any commercial nuclear fuel cycle. The lack of a clear final disposition path poses a challenge not only to the sustainability of the current fleet of LWRs, but also to the development and deployment of the next generation of ARs. By identifying and addressing challenges at the back end of the fuel cycle before the deployment of future AR technologies, ONWARDS will support the removal of substantial barriers to the growth of advanced nuclear energy. Additionally, by supporting this R&D during the pre-deployment phase of AR fuel cycles, ONWARDS seeks to leverage the possibility of co-development synergies throughout the AR fuel cycles. It is recognized that R&D of enabling back-end technologies to support U.S. AR fuel cycles may necessitate access to research resources (e.g., materials, facilities, software, computing resources, subject matter experts) to support the development and testing of sensors in a high radiation environment , for the processing of nuclear fuel, for the storage and disposal of radioactive and/or hazardous materials, hot-cells and gloveboxes, and high-performance computing codes and facilities, among other needs. Applicants without existing access to such research resources are encouraged to establish teaming relationships with commercial entities, National Laboratories, universities, etc., with such research resources in order to successfully complete their proposed R&D activities. Applicants without access to required research resources or teaming relationships that enable access to required research resources will not be disqualified, nor will they be deemed nonresponsive at the Concept Paper stage for that reason alone; however, applicants at the Full Application stage will need to be able to demonstrate that they have access to the research resources needed to successfully complete R&D activities under the subsequent full-application FOA. Additional information regarding research resources and teaming relationships can be found in Section I.F of the FOA. To read this FOA in its entirety, please go to the ARPA-E website at https://arpa-e-foa.energy.gov. Questions about this FOA? Check the Frequently Asked Questions available at http://arpa-e.energy.gov/faq. For questions that have not already been answered, email [email protected]
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