ARPA-E Archived Funding Opportunities

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  DE-FOA-0002115 Request for Information (RFI) on Intelligent Analytics, Algorithms, and Maintenance to Optimize Operations in Advanced Nuclear Reactors Request for Information (RFI) TBD TBD

DE-FOA-0002115: Request for Information (RFI) on Intelligent Analytics, Algorithms, and Maintenance to Optimize Operations in Advanced Nuclear Reactors


ARPA-E is seeking information from diverse industries about technologies that could enable advanced nuclear reactors[1] to achieve operating cost profiles that approximate those of natural gas combined cycle plants. This entails reducing operating costs per megawatt of electricity (MWe) at nuclear power plants by more than one order of magnitude.

Attaining this vision requires semi-autonomous nuclear power plant operations, a radical departure from traditional nuclear power plant operations. Because autonomy is so unconventional for the nuclear sector, attacking the problem requires operational technologies and controls strategies that have limited or no technical precedent in the nuclear community. For this reason, ARPA-E is especially interested in perspectives from outside the traditional nuclear energy space.

Today’s nuclear plants are mostly conventional light water reactors (LWRs).[2] Their continued viability in the U.S. electricity mix is challenged in part by high operational and maintenance (O&M) costs compared to other electricity generation types.[3] The higher costs stem largely from the high staffing level required for nuclear power plant operation, maintenance, safety, and security. Advanced nuclear reactor systems that are anticipated to comprise the next generation of new reactor builds are likely to face costs that are similar to LWRs, should they not pursue new approaches to O&M. High O&M costs might be especially burdensome for small modular reactors (SMRs) and microreactors, which do not have the benefit of economy of scale. Much greater focus on achieving a radical reduction of O&M costs will likely prove necessary to assure the competitiveness of advanced nuclear systems.

Therefore, approaches in predictive maintenance, autonomous maintenance, fault detection and isolation algorithms, novel sensor systems, data analytics, dynamics modeling, and advanced control systems are of interest. Also of interest are advanced modeling and simulators that allow exploration of a full range of potential data streams, and can help identify/evaluate the most relevant control algorithms and sensor needs. Finally, test loops and experimental facilities that can be leveraged to investigate and validate approaches for autonomous controls, operations, and maintenance are of interest.

Please carefully review the REQUEST FOR INFORMATION DOCUMENT and GUIDELINES below. Please note, in particular, that the information you provide will be used by ARPA-E solely for program planning, without attribution. THIS IS A REQUEST FOR INFORMATION ONLY. THIS NOTICE DOES NOT CONSTITUTE A FUNDING OPPORTUNITY ANNOUNCEMENT (FOA). NO FOA EXISTS AT THIS TIME.

Responses to this RFI should be submitted in PDF format to the email address by 5:00 PM Eastern Time on April 25th, 2019.


Submission Deadlines

  • Concept Paper Submission Deadline: TBD
  • Full Application Submission Deadline: TBD