ARPA-E Archived Funding Opportunities

DE-FOA-0002703: Request for Information (RFI) on Converting UNF Radioisotopes Into Energy (CURIE)

The Advanced Research Projects Agency –Energy (ARPA‐E) in the U.S. Department of Energy is seeking comments on the draft technical section of a potential future Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for the CURIE program. This new program would focus on innovative technologies and approaches that will significantly improve the economics of commercial nuclear fuel reprocessing facilities, improve reprocessing material accountancy while decreasing materials attractiveness, and drastically reduce the volume of high-level waste (HLW) requiring permanent disposal. An ARPA-E workshop was held in July 2021 to help identify and refine metrics for this contemplated program; presentations can be found here. Such technological advancements would enable a 1¢/kWh fuel cost for a secure 200 MTHM/yr facility that does not generate pure plutonium streams while significantly reducing the volume of high-level waste requiring disposal. ARPA‐E seeks input from experts in the fields of separations chemistry (e.g., solvent extraction, pyroprocessing, halide volatility, etc.); head-end processing (e.g., voloxidation, Kr/Xe capture, etc.); process intensification; material accountancy/online monitoring; project engineering; techno-economic analysis; digital engineering; systems analysis and risk assessment; advanced manufacturing and construction (including modular fabrication); artificial intelligence, machine learning, and digital twins; and sensors, instrumentation, autonomous operation, and robotics.

Please carefully review the REQUEST FOR INFORMATION GUIDELINES below and note in particular: 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. Respondents shall not include any information in their response to this RFI that might be considered proprietary or confidential.

Purpose and Need for Information:

The purpose of this RFI is solely to solicit input about the scope of the draft technical section of the CURIE FOA for ARPA-E consideration. ARPA-E will not provide funding or compensation for any information submitted in response to this RFI, and ARPA-E may use information submitted to this RFI without any attribution to the source. This RFI provides the broader research community with an opportunity to contribute views and opinions regarding the technology and economics of reprocessing facilities.

This RFI previews only the draft technical section for a possible future program solicitation. If respondents are interested in other sections, including general format and requirements of an ARPA-E FOA, please visit DE-FOA-0002212: Breakthroughs Enabling Thermonuclear-fusion Energy (BETHE) is a sample FOA to reference. A few common sections include but are not limited to:

  • III.A: Eligible Applicants (e.g., domestic entities)
  • III.B: Cost-Sharing IV.C: Content and Form of full applications
  • VI.C: Reporting (e.g., cost)
  • VIII.B: Government Rights in Subject Inventions
  • VIII.C: Rights in Technical Data


A summary of RFI responses will be presented by Program Director Jenifer Shafer on February 23-24, 2022, at ARPA-E’s CURIE Industry Day. Individuals interested in attending the CURIE Industry Day event should indicate this in the RFI response.

ARPA-E may contact respondents to request clarification or seek additional information relevant to this RFI. All responses provided will be considered, but ARPA-E will not respond to individual submissions. Respondents shall not include any information in the response to this RFI that might be considered proprietary or confidential.

Responses to this RFI should be submitted in PDF format to the email address by 5:00 PM eastern time on February 21,2022. Emails should conform to the following guidelines:

Please insert “Responses for CURIE” in the subject line of your email, and include your name, title, organization, type of organization (e.g., university, non-governmental organization, small business, large business, federally funded research and development center (FFRDC), government-owned/government-operated (GOGO), etc.), email address, telephone number, and area of expertise in the body of your email. Responses to this RFI are limited to no more than 5 pages in length (12-point font size). Respondents are strongly encouraged to include preliminary results, data, and figures that describe their potential methodologies.

Questions: ARPA-E encourages responses that address any subset of the following questions and encourages the inclusion of references to important supplementary information.

1. For elements/radioisotopes present in used nuclear fuel that could be valuable for recovery, what are the estimated potential demand and prices for these elements/radioisotopes?

2. Are there specific technical research topics being considered that may fall under the “other” category of the draft technical section?

3. What is an envisioned timeline for gaining the requisite approvals and materials access necessary to use actual used nuclear fuel (UNF) for research experiments?

4. What other considerations (e.g., site use or transportation restrictions) should ARPA-E be aware of regarding the use of actual UNF in CURIE project proposals?

5. Any other issues, questions, or feedback regarding the draft FOA.


  • RFI DE-FOA-0002703 CURIE (Last Updated: 2/10/2022 09:48 AM ET)

Submission Deadlines

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