CAES In The Mix

CAES project selected for DOE award

A project involving Boise State University and Idaho National Laboratory, led by industry partner Applied Nanotech, has been selected for a Phase I DOE award from the SBIR and STTR Programs Office within the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science. The project, Printed Sensor for Monitoring Reactor Health, calls for the development of innovative sensors to better monitor nuclear power plants, improving efficiency while reducing operations and maintenance costs. Led by industry partner Applied Nanotech, Inc. (ANI), the project’s first phase focuses on the development of materials for printing multimodal sensors that can survive in extreme environments like those found at nuclear power plants. In testing to demonstrate feasibility of temperature stability, the sensors will be subjected to temperature of 1100˚C for a minimum of 100 hours. If this phase is successful, it is anticipated that the participants will apply for further funding and the sensors will be subjected to even more rigorous testing. Manufactured with a 3D printer, the durable, low-cost sensors could be used for monitoring and controlling reactors and fuel cycle facilities. They can be directly printed onto fuel, cladding, and structural components and would lead to efficiency gains and improved reliability in new and existing reactors, leading to cost savings. Other potential benefits of this project include new materials and sensors for automotive, aerospace, renewable energy, and manufacturing sensors and components for extreme environments. The project has been selected for $199,999 in DOE Phase I funding to evaluate the feasibility of the technology for further development. Boise State will collaborate with ANI to print and characterize the physical and electrical properties of high-temperature, irradiation-resistant thermocouples (HTIR-TCs) using Additive Manufacturing (AM) methods such as aerosol jet and inkjet printing of nuclear grade nanoparticle inks. Boise State will also lead the development of HTIR nanomaterials that will be used for ink formulations at ANI. Furthermore, BSU will assist with temperature stability measurements of the sensors. INL will provide advice and guidance in Phase I, and could play an integral role in testing and evaluation in Phase II. Advanced Manufacturing is one of the seven focus areas outlined in the CAES Strategy.

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