Nuclear innovation program asks for applications

Idaho National Laboratory’s nuclear energy innovation program has announced a second round of funding for small businesses interested in developing next-generation nuclear technologies.

The INL-managed Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear, or GAIN, started in 2015 with the goal of spurring nuclear power innovation by giving companies access to lab research and experts.

Eight small businesses were selected to receive up to $2 million each in the first GAIN voucher program, announced last summer.

They included two companies who worked with INL scientists — one examining metallic nuclear fuels and another designing a “micro reactor,” also known as a nuclear battery. The other six awardees worked alongside researchers at other national laboratories.

The vouchers are provided by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy. The value of this second round of vouchers isn’t yet known, said INL spokeswoman Laura Scheele. Companies are asked to submit an application by March 9. More details are at gain.inl.gov.

Awards will be announced in May. Around the same time, a research status update will be provided on last year’s voucher winners, Scheele said.

“The objective of GAIN is to accelerate cost-effective commercialization of innovative nuclear energy technologies,” GAIN director Rita Baranwal said in a statement. “This cost-sharing initiative enables partnerships with small businesses and provides them with access to the technical, regulatory and financial support necessary to bridge the gap to delivering new technologies to market.”


Luke Ramseth can be reached at 542-6763. Twitter: @lramseth


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