DOE Pulse
  • Number 434  |
  • March 9, 2015

Experts converge to brainstorm nuclear energy innovation

Experts converge to brainstorm nuclear energy innovation.

Experts converge to brainstorm nuclear
energy innovation.

Energy systems in the U.S. and around the globe face myriad interconnected, time sensitive challenges. Tackling them will require truly innovative thinking. Currently, there are areas of political and technical stalemate on the brink of breakthroughs, old concepts being revived for fresh applications and populations in serious need of increased access to low carbon energy.

Last week, DOE's Idaho National Laboratory started a nationwide brainstorming session about innovation in nuclear energy. INL brought a collaborative group of national laboratories, universities and thought leaders from diverse backgrounds together to start a dialogue surrounding some of the toughest questions about the future of nuclear energy as a key part of the nation's energy portfolio.

The groups pondered a series of questions about how to foster more innovation in several areas. Specifically, participants considered innovative concepts in energy systems, subsystems and components; innovative uses of existing technologies; innovative R&D paradigms; and innovative licensing paradigms.

DOE Under Secretary for Science and Energy Franklin (Lynn) Orr delivered opening remarks. NuScale Power Chief Technology Officer Jose Reyes and Kirsty Gogan, co-founder of Energy for Humanity also addressed the workshops. Participants included experts from 10 national laboratories, 28 universities, more than a dozen private companies or industry organizations, as well as non-profits, think tanks and other organizations concerned with energy issues.

Simultaneous workshops in six cities spanning three time zones convened more than 125 experts with a range of perspectives (academia, industry, national labs, think tanks and non-profits). Organizers are also encouraging others interested in these questions to hold independent workshops and submit ideas online. The goal is to crowdsource ideas ranging from modest or familiar to radical.

To capture the best ideas and direct momentum to do the most good, the ideas are being analyzed and condensed into a report suggesting potential directions for federal programs. Organizers plan to make a brief summary available within a few weeks, prepare an executive summary this spring and a full report this fall. Meanwhile, the social media conversation is continuing via @innovationwksp or #nukeinnovation.

Submitted by DOE’s Idaho National Laboratory