University of Utah materials science and engineering professor Michael Simpson has received a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to develop a method of recycling spent fuel from existing commercial nuclear power plants using molten salt.

The U is one of only 12 recipients from the DOE’s ARPA-E CURIE program aimed at developing technology for commercializing recycling of spent oxide fuel. The technical goals of his project are to demonstrate nearly complete dissolution of spent oxide fuel in a molten salt followed by near complete electrochemical recovery of U/TRU that can be used to make new fuel for advanced nuclear reactors. Achieving complete dissolution of the fuel is key to enabling the process to be safeguarded against proliferation of U/TRU. The grant is over three years.