COLOMBIA – Researchers at the University of South Carolina and Clemson University have long worked at the federal nuclear research laboratory near Aiken. Both think that a new partnership will be based on this.
The Savannah River National Laboratory, at the Savannah River Department of Energy’s nuclear site, employs 1,000 people tasked with developing new nuclear waste cleaning technologies for the federal government’s $ 6 billion per year program.
The lab’s operation was being overseen by Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, which manages the Savannah River site.
DOE decided to share management with the notion that if it had a contractor focused exclusively on the laboratory, it would obtain more innovations with its investment. The agency on Tuesday awarded the 10-year $ 3.8 billion contract to the Ohio-based Battelle Memorial Institute.
Battelle then chose scientists from USC, Clemson and SC State University, as well as the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Georgia for partners.
Battelle is an experienced contractor, overseeing eight other national laboratories across the country. The group usually recruits academic institutions to help fulfill its contracts.
“Battelle values partnerships with universities in all of its DOE national laboratory management contracts,” said spokeswoman Katy Delaney.
Nuclear and particle physicists at the State University of New York conduct research on climate change and renewable energy at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York.
Texas A&M University and the University of California do nuclear power production and environmental cleaning work at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. Scientists at the University of Tennessee work at DOE’s largest science and energy laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
With the inclusion of SC State, this marks the first time that the national laboratory next to Aiken will work with a historically black college or university, President James Clark said in a statement.
For the USC, the partnership can help fulfill the promise of University President Bob Caslen to attract more federal research dollars to the state’s top university.
The Savannah River announcement comes in the wake of a report that the USC would create online continuing education classes for soldiers at Fort Gordon in Augusta, Georgia. The fort is home to the Army Cyber Center of Excellence and the Army Cyber Command, in charge of cybersecurity for the United States Armed Forces.
Research funding is also a priority for Clemson, which has more than doubled its research spending over the past five years, said spokesman Joe Galbraith.
For example, Upstate University recently announced a $ 18 million contract with the US Army Ground Vehicle Systems Center to develop a prototype to test autonomous off-road vehicle technology.
Under the new partnership with Savannah River, the USC said it will seek joint laboratory appointments for several of its academics. Brian Powell of Clemson was previously appointed to a joint teaching position, conducting research on the disposal of radioactive waste.
As another example of previous laboratory research in Savannah River, Galbraith said that Clemson College of Science professor Stephen Creager helped develop new ways to clean water contaminated by radioactive tritium.