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General Atomics Center

for the Development of Translational Nuclear Technology



Award Amount

$3 million

Extramural Research Funding

$22.1 million

Research Focus

The production of biofuels and coal to liquid fuels using nuclear process heat for more efficient production and the reduction of wastes associated with recycling of used fuel, seeking more long term strategies to manage used fuel, recovery of energy value in used fuel, and eliminating concerns over proliferation associated with recycling used fuel.

University Partner

University of South Carolina

Private Sector Partner

General Atomics

The General Atomics Center is developing strategies for improving and enhancing the use of nuclear energy to ensure nuclear power remains safe, clean and affordable. It also supports technological improvements, including using nuclear power as a heat source to generate alternative fuels such as hydrogen.

South Carolina is already a national leader in nuclear power, generating more than half of its electricity through nuclear reactors. At the same time, the University of South Carolina (USC) has a strong presence in the clean energy/alternative fuels arena. The General Atomics Center, together with the Nuclear Science and Energy Center approved in 2008, create enormous potential for South Carolina to become a national hub for nuclear energy research. 

The SmartState Endowed Chair and associated faculty for the Center will work with the South Carolina nuclear industry and the Savannah River National Laboratory to create new engineering and technological innovations and methods of project risk management. These innovations can reduce the cost of building nuclear plants, increase efficiency of new plant construction, enhance the security of nuclear power generation, and address relevant social policy issues. Also, the General Atomics Center researchers will educate the next generation of nuclear engineers, helping the state maintain a leadership role within the industry and attracting talented students to South Carolina. 

As part of the state required industry investment, San Diego, California-based General Atomics invested $900,000 in the Center in 2011.

The General Atomics Center researchers will partner with other higher education institutions, including South Carolina State University and Clemson University to educate the next generation of nuclear engineers and technicians. The General Atomics Center received a grant from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission that will fund two USC PhD students in nuclear science.

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