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​​​​​​​​​To get the conversation started, thought leaders from diverse backgrounds have been invited to workshops in six locations March 3-5. The organizers want to supplement input from those events with insights from independently organized workshops. After the official event, independent workshops can be organized by participants of the 3-day event or others interested in these questions. Your workshop can be a large or small gathering of people well informed about the current nuclear energy enterprise and its needs for moving forward. Surround yourself with great people, brainstorm about the highest priority innovations and submit your top three ideas.

What are the Scope and Objectives of the Workshops?

Workshop participants with a broad spectrum of expertise will discuss the following in a moderated forum with specific questions:

  • What is the vision for the future of nuclear energy (regional, national and international outlook)?
  • How are the goals for innovation affected by this vision, and what is the relative importance of the different goals?

The outcome of these workshops will be a consolidated report summarizing the technical discussions and a consensus of ideas. The report will provide the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Nuclear Energy (DOE-NE) with specific suggestions for the nation's nuclear energy Research Development & Demonstration (RD&D) programs.

What Kind of Innovation Will Benefit Nuclear Energy?

Innovation in nuclear energy encompasses a number of categories.  Each has an important role to play in nuclear energy's future, especially when they are optimally combined toward a specific commercialization goal. The DOE-NE R&D roadmap presents a comprehensive set of programs at a strategic level that supports this vision.  Some examples from existing DOE programs in each category are listed below. 

The workshops organized by Idaho National Laboratory will focus on technical issues associated with innovation leading to rapid commercialization.  However, policy issues also affect innovation and often drive its need and nature.  The workshops are not focused on policy issues unless policy considerations directly affect one or more of the technical categories discussed below:

  1. Innovative Concepts – Out-of-the box thinking for the design of nuclear energy systems and subsystems compared to evolutionary improvements on traditional systems.  Concepts can range from a totally revolutionary reactor design to innovative components adapted to more traditional reactor concepts.  In existing programs, Generation IV reactors (with designs that meet the Gen IV goals) are reactor examples; fuels with enhanced accident -tolerant characteristics are component examples. 

  2. Innovative Use of Existing Technologies – Using existing or known reactor technologies in a different way.  An example would be nuclear hybrid energy systems that put nuclear energy's heat and electricity to new uses. This category also includes technologies that are currently used outside nuclear energy but can be adapted for use in combination with nuclear energy (e.g. digital control systems). 

  3. Innovative RD&D Paradigm – For any nuclear energy technology, the traditional, prototype -based approach to conducting RD&D require time and resources that can deter the path to commercialization of innovative ideas.  An example of the innovative RD&D paradigm is the "engineering-driven, science-based approach" articulated in the DOE-NE RD&D roadmap.  

  4. Innovative Licensing Paradigm – The licensing paradigm must parallel the RD&D paradigm to have the full impact on enabling innovation.  For instance, a risk-informed decision making process that can translate the results of the engineering-driven science-based approach to a regulatory framework may reduce cost and accelerate the licensing process while minimizing the overall risk.  DOE's risk-informed safety margin characterization (RISMC) methodology is one example currently being developed. ​


To submit your recommendations, please complete and submit the form below:

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Share your workshop's top three ideas for each focus area by copying and pasting in the input fields below 

Focus Area 1: Innovative Concepts in Energy Systems and Subsystems or Components 
Focus Area 2: Innovative Use of Existing Technologies 
Focus Area 3: Innovative R&D Paradigm 
Focus Area 4: Innovative Licensing Paradigm 
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