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Nuclear Science and Energy

Center of Economic Excellence



Award Amount

$3 million

External Funding Above Match

7.3 million

Research Focus

Performance, efficiency, and maintenance issues at existing and future nuclear power plants using expertise modeling and simulation related to nuclear fuels and materials.

University Partner

University of South Carolina

Private Sector Partner 

Duke Energy, Progress Energy, SCANA, and Westinghouse

As America pursues energy independence and alternatives to fossil fuels, nuclear energy will have an increasingly important role to play. The Nuclear Science and Energy Center will focus on the design, development, and analysis of advanced materials that will be required to extend the life of existing nuclear power reactors and to develop a new generation of more efficient reactors.

No nuclear reactors have come on line in the United States in more than a decade, but as a new group of plants are planned or under construction across the country, the University of South Carolina (USC) is poised to be a major academic leader, especially as many nuclear engineering academic programs throughout the country have been terminated. According to a report issued by the U.S. Department of Energy, the number of independent nuclear engineering programs has fallen by about 50 percent since the mid-1980s.

South Carolina is already a national leader in nuclear power, generating more than 55 percent of its electricity via nuclear reactors. Within a 120-mile radius of Columbia, 11 large commercial nuclear power plants provide more than 10 percent of the nation's nuclear-generated energy. At the same time, USC has a strong presence in the clean energy/alternative fuels arena. This Center will help make South Carolina a force in finding solutions to the United State's energy challenges.

In conjunction with the USC Nuclear Engineering program, this Center has
access to industrial partners, including Duke Energy, Progress Energy, SCANA,
Westinghouse, and the URS Nuclear Center. The Center received two grants totaling $2.7 million from the Department of Energy’s Nuclear Energy University Program, which supports research and development activities at universities through competitive awards focused on advancing nuclear energy technologies.

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