Research nuclear energy with a US partner: 2022

Apply for funding to research nuclear energy with a US partner. This funding allows you to take part in the Nuclear Energy University Program (NEUP) from the U.S. Department of Energy.

You must be a UK-based researcher who:

  • is employed by an eligible research organisation
  • does not hold a postdoctoral level fellowship.

Your project must address one of these five areas from the wider NEUP program:

  • understanding, predicting and optimising the physical properties, structure and dynamics of molten salts
  • next generation light-water reactor fuels for small modular reactor applications
  • disposal of spent fuel and waste disposition
  • advanced small modular reactors
  • automated optimisation for reactor core design.

We will fund 80% of the full economic cost of your project. Funding can last up to three years.

Both the ‘pre-application’ and invite-only ‘full application’ stages of this funding opportunity are run by NEUP.

See the full details in the NEUP funding opportunity announcement

Who can apply

Standard EPSRC eligibility rules apply. Research grants are open to:

  • UK higher education institutions
  • research council institutes
  • UKRI-approved independent research organisations
  • eligible public sector research establishments
  • NHS bodies with research capacity.

Check if your institution is eligible for funding.

You can apply if you are resident in the UK and meet at least one of the conditions below:

  • are employed at the submitting research organisation at a level equivalent to lecturer or above
  • hold a fixed-term contract that extends beyond the duration of the proposed project, and the host research organisation is prepared to give you all the support normal for a permanent employee
  • hold an EPSRC, Royal Society or Royal Academy of Engineering fellowship aimed at later career stages
  • hold fellowships under other schemes (please contact EPSRC to check eligibility, which is considered on a case-by-case basis).

Holders of postdoctoral level fellowships are not eligible to apply for an EPSRC grant.

What we're looking for

The DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy consolidates its university support under one programme, the Nuclear Energy University Program (NEUP).

The UKRI Energy Programme, led by EPSRC, would like to encourage the participation of UK researchers with US partners in this programme.

In particular the EPSRC will support the UK component of proposals including
US and UK collaboration in only the following areas from Appendix A of the NEUP funding opportunity announcement:

  • understanding, predicting, and optimizing the physical properties, structure, and dynamics of molten salts (FC-1.2)
  • next generation light water reactor fuels for SMR applications (FC-2.1)
  • spent fuel and waste disposition: disposal (FC-4.1)
  • advanced small modular reactor research and development (RC-6)
  • automated optimization for reactor core design (NEAMS-2).

UK applicants should engage closely with their US partners when preparing the pre-application and full proposal. This is a US process and US partners understand how best to prepare the bid.

UK partners are encouraged to include other UK stakeholders in their proposal as
appropriate.

Submissions to this funding opportunity will not count towards the EPSRC repeatedly unsuccessful applicants policy.

Funding available

There is up to £2.5 million of EPSRC funding available to support up to five individual projects of up to 36 months in duration. EPSRC will fund the UK side of the successful projects.

Equipment over £10,000 in value (inclusive of VAT) is not available through this funding opportunity. Smaller items of equipment (individually under £10,000) should be in the ‘directly incurred – other costs’ heading.

EPSRC approach to equipment funding.

How to apply

You should first contact the EPSRC lead to highlight your teams’ intention to submit a pre-application. This will ensure that EPSRC is aware of the likely demand through this funding opportunity and are able to offer advice where required on the application process.

There are two stages to applying:

  • pre-application
  • invite-only full application.

Pre-application

Pre-applications should be submitted by the US partner to the DOE following their procedures by 22 September 2021.

NEUP funding opportunity announcement.

Full application: invite-only

If your pre-application is successful, the full US application should be submitted by the lead US partner following the DOE procedure by 9 February 2022.

The US application should include a description of the full research programme, including the UK component.

You will also need to submit the UK costings and a ‘justification of resources’ through the Joint Electronic Submission system (Je-S) to be received by EPSRC by 10 February 2022.

We will send you full guidance on how to do this once your pre-application is successful.

You will need to provide your US partner with a letter of support from EPSRC.

EPSRC letter of support

Any full proposal submitted to the NEUP will require a letter of support from EPSRC confirming our intention to support the UK component if successful through peer review. Please note we require three working days’ notice to prepare this letter of support.

To get the letter, and discuss your intent to apply, please send a password-protected document to andrew.eustace@epsrc.ukri.org.

The document should include:

  • names of the UK and US principal investigators and institutions
  • title of the proposal
  • total costs at both 100% full economic cost and 80% full economic cost
  • the area of the workscope which you are applying to.

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

This NEUP funding opportunity is an exception to our EPSRC peer review principles. DOE will decide which proposals including UK components are successful.

Up to, and including, the US review panel, the UK component of UK-US collaborative projects will be assessed through the NEUP peer review process by the DOE. There will be no separate peer review carried out by EPSRC.

However, should the volume of successful UK proposals exceed the funding available from EPSRC, a UK ratification panel will convene. The ratification panel will produce a rank ordered list based on the US definition of technical quality (page 45 of the NEUP funding opportunity announcement) and the US postal peer review returns.

In line with standard US processes, there will not be a ‘right to reply’ or principal investigator response.

Assessment criteria

The assessment criteria will be the DOE NEUP criteria (page 41 of the NEUP funding opportunity announcement).

If you are successful

Successful projects will be invited to submit full paperwork to EPSRC via Je-S. In addition you will be asked to attach the full US application (as an ‘additional document’) and case for support to your UK application before final submission.

Details, including the deadline for submission, will be provided to those who are successful at the time.

Contact details

For help and advice on costings and writing your proposal please contact your research office in the first instance, allowing sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process.

Ask about this funding opportunity

Dr Andrew Eustace, Nuclear Fission Portfolio Manager
Email: andrew.eustace@epsrc.ukri.org

Get help with Je-S

Any queries regarding the submission of proposals through Je-S should be directed to the Je-S helpdesk.

Email: jeshelp@je-s.ukri.org
Telephone: 01793 444164

Additional info

Background

The UKRI Energy Programme wants to ensure that UK nuclear researchers are able to engage in international research programmes. This is in order to showcase UK expertise, while accessing complimentary knowledge, skills and facilities and developing new routes to impact.

The US is a world leader in nuclear research and development and this is an excellent opportunity to build on the links that already exist between UK and US researchers. The DOE of Nuclear Energy created the NEUP in 2009 to consolidate its university support under one programme of expertise.

Thus, the NEUP funds nuclear energy research and equipment upgrades at US colleges and universities, and provides student educational support.

The NEUP plays a key role in helping the Department of Energy accomplish its mission of leading the nation’s investment in the development and exploration of advanced nuclear science and technology.

As it is stated in the Nuclear Energy Roadmap, the DOE promotes nuclear energy as a resource capable of meeting the nation’s energy, environmental and national security needs by resolving technical, cost, safety, and security, proliferation resistance through research, development and demonstration.

In collaboration with the NEUP we’re allowing our respective research communities in the UK and US to build on one another’s capabilities. To address the research challenges facing the continued safe deployment and development of civil nuclear power between the UK and the US in a co-operative, efficient and effective way.

Responsible innovation

EPSRC is fully committed to develop and promote responsible innovation. Research has the ability to not only produce understanding, knowledge and value, but also unintended consequences, questions, ethical dilemmas and, at times, unexpected social transformations.

We recognise that we have a duty of care to promote approaches to responsible innovation that will initiate ongoing reflection about the potential ethical and societal implications of the research that we sponsor and to encourage our research community to do likewise. Therefore applicants are expected to work within the EPSRC framework for responsible innovation.

Applicants planning to include international collaborators on their proposal should visit the Trusted Research website for information and advice on how to get the most out of international collaboration whilst protecting intellectual property, sensitive research and personal information.

Trusted Research website (CPNI)

Supporting documents

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