The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy (DOE-NE) has tapped UTSA to create safer and more cost-effective nuclear energy with two research projects totaling more than $1 million in grants. Elizabeth Sooby, assistant professor in the UTSA Department of Physics and Astronomy, will helm the advanced nuclear energy technology research projects and will further UTSA’s mission of leading efforts in research for the development and testing of fuel forms to enhance the safety of nuclear power.
The news of UTSA’s involvement with the DOE-funded projects comes on the heels of the DOE’s new initiative to award more than $61 million in funding to universities across the country with an emphasis on nuclear energy research.
According to the DOE, America’s reliance on nuclear power makes up one-fifth of the electricity used and accounts for the nation’s largest domestic source of clean energy.
“Nuclear energy is not only the largest energy density form of commercial power in the world, it is also the leading carbon-free form of power in the United States,” Sooby told UTSA Today. “There are two operating nuclear power plants in Texas, and UTSA’s involvement in advancing clean energy technology, particularly incorporating data science and advanced manufacturing techniques, places us on the leading edge of advancements in this area all while engaging our undergraduate and graduate students in cutting-edge research.”
The research projects will also serve to promote student engagement by inviting participation in research.
“We're going to be funding graduate students and several undergraduates to conduct research in support of the project,” Sooby added. “It’s going to be very hands-on, and student engagement in research is one of the things we've identified as a key player in STEM student success, especially at the undergraduate level.”