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GAIN Vouchers at INL Support Two Dramatically Different Industry Projects

May 20, 2024

By Paul Menser

With assistance from the Department of Energy’s Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) voucher program, Idaho National Laboratory researchers are lending their expertise to two very different companies.

In one corner is Dow, the giant plastics and chemicals manufacturer, that is exploring using microreactors to reduce carbon emissions. In the other corner, Curio Solutions, a Washington, D.C.-based startup that hopes to close the nuclear fuel cycle with a process that avoids proliferation concerns.

Both companies will benefit from the GAIN Initiative, which was launched in 2016 by DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy (DOE-NE) to speed up the commercialization of new innovations. Under the voucher program, DOE-NE makes the research resources of its national laboratories available, providing funding for 80% of any winning proposal. Private sector participants agree to pick up the remaining 20%, with cost-sharing commitments fulfilled financially or with in-kind services.

Voucher recipients are announced four times a year. Since 2016, 98 vouchers have been awarded totaling $34.7 million. The vouchers funded have received support from seven national laboratories: Idaho, Argonne, Oak Ridge, Pacific Northwest, Sandia, Los Alamos and Savannah River. Some vouchers have supported multi-laboratory collaborations.
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