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ACU’s NEXT Lab awarded infrastructure grant from Department of Energy

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Nuclear Energy University Program (NEUP) announced a grant of $367,793 to be used for infrastructure at ACU’s Nuclear Energy eXperimental Testing Lab.

The funding will support the radiochemistry aspect of NEXT Lab – specifically, establishing new and unique real-time direct chemical analysis capabilities for molten salt systems.

For 2021, NEUP awarded a total of $3.54 million in funding to 24 universities. ACU’s award is the largest of the four Texas schools that received an award and the second largest award overall, behind only the University of Notre Dame. ACU is one of only four private universities to receive a 2021 award in this program.

The NEXT Lab at ACU also received a 2019 grant from NEUP, which is the DOE’s main program to fund nuclear research at universities, for the design and investigation of novel mechanical filters. That grant project continues through 2022, so in the next federal fiscal year, ACU will have two concurrently operating NEUP grants – the 2019 filter grant and this year’s infrastructure grant. 

“These grants are helping to establish ACU and the NEXT Lab as participants and emerging leaders in molten salt nuclear research, which will help lead to an operating molten salt nuclear research reactor on ACU’s campus,” said Dr. Kim Pamplin, professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and a senior chemist for NEXT Lab. “If everything works well, we may have the only such operating reactor in the world for a period of time, which will put ACU firmly among the leaders in this area of research.”

This 2021 grant is specifically to fund infrastructure such as instruments and equipment, not for the actual research that can take place with these instruments, Pamplin said. Plans are already underway to apply for the next round of grants to request funding for the research that NEXT Lab will now be capable of performing using this well-equipped radiochemistry lab. 

Learn more about NEXT Lab at

— Wendy Kilmer

July 15, 2021

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