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ACU’s NEXT Lab awarded infrastructure grant from Department of Energy for second year in a row


Evan Babb, a senior chemistry, biochemistry and biology major, uses analytical chemistry equipment in the molten salt chemistry lab at ACU.

Jeremy Enlow

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Nuclear Energy University Program (NEUP) announced a grant of $292,770 to be used for infrastructure at ACU’s Nuclear Energy eXperimental Testing Lab, the second consecutive year for ACU to receive the grant.

The funding will expand the radioactive materials characterization capability in the NEXT Lab. Specifically, it provides the instrumentation needed to move chemistry operations over into new facilities – the Advanced Research Center and the Dillard Science and Engineering Research Center – by the end of next summer.

According to the NEUP website, “20 university-led projects will receive more than $5.2 million for research reactor and infrastructure improvements, providing important safety, performance, and student education-related upgrades to a portion of the nation’s 25 university research reactors, as well as enhancing university research and training infrastructure.” 

In the area of infrastructure, ACU received one of only eight grants awarded and is one of only two private schools to receive an award (ACU and Massachusetts Institute of Technology). In addition, ACU is the only university in the country with back-to-back infrastructure awards in 2021 and 2022.

“As we move rapidly toward an operating molten salt research reactor at ACU, these grants equip us to carefully monitor the composition of the salt, including fuel, fission products and other minor components. This helps us understand it better and operate it safely,” said Dr. Kim Pamplin, professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and director of chemistry for NEXT Lab. “This array of instrumentation, combined with the only operating reactor of its kind, provides an incredible opportunity for students, faculty and other researchers from around the world.”

Learn more about ACU’s NEXT Lab.

— Wendy Kilmer

Sept. 7, 2022

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