U of I wins nuclear safety research grant

August 12, 2011

AP and City Room staff

(Flickr/Michal Brcak)

A $538,000 research grant will help the University of Illinois find ways to make nuclear power plants safer and more efficient.

The Champaign News-Gazette reports that the U.S. Department of Energy grant focuses on developing new technology and educating the next generation of leaders in the U.S. nuclear industry.

There are currently seven nuclear power plants in Illinois, six of which are operational, as well as an additional three plants in the nearby regions of Wisconsin and southwest Michigan.  

In May, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission demanded that operators of the 104 U.S. nuclear reactors, including those in Illinois, submit detailed information about how they planned to respond to extreme emergency situations, including a possible terrorist attack.

James Stubbins, head of nuclear, plasma and radiological engineering at the University of Illinois, says researchers will study materials that can withstand extraordinarily high temperatures and resist corrosion.

Stubbins says that would make nuclear energy more efficient and make plant equipment less likely to leak.

The university's research project could start by Oct. 1.