NAE Member Donates $2 Million to Support Study on Next-Generation Nuclear Power Technologies


Mon, August 03, 2020

Washington DC, August 03, 2020 —

The National Academy of Engineering announced today a $2 million gift from NAE member James J. Truchard to support the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine study Laying the Foundation for New and Advanced Nuclear Reactors in the United States. This study, which is also sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy, will explore the technical, regulatory, and economic outlook of new and advanced reactors in order to guide further innovation and future governance surrounding these technologies.

The gift designates $1.5 million to help fund the study and an additional $500,000 to support communication and dissemination efforts upon its completion.

“These advanced nuclear technologies could help provide a source for carbon-free energy more quickly and effectively,” said James J. Truchard. “I believe that if we apply our resources and the best scientific and engineering minds, we can have clean, safe, and affordable nuclear power.”

Truchard co-founded National Instruments (NI) in 1976 to develop the tools scientists and engineers need to solve the world’s greatest engineering challenges. NI is now one of the biggest makers of software and test equipment, helping engineers design a wealth of technologies, from industrial control systems to wireless transmitters. Truchard has been recognized with the Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship for his community involvement with organizations, including the Engineering Foundation Advisory Council and FIRST Robotics. He also recently committed $5 million to the University of Texas, San Antonio’s College of Sciences to establish the Oskar Fischer Project, an initiative that will expand understanding of the Alzheimer’s disease.

“We are grateful to NAE member James J. Truchard for this generous gift,” said National Academy of Engineering President John L. Anderson.  “Our independent, peer-reviewed consensus study will consider how advanced nuclear technologies could be an important tool for meeting energy demands in the future, especially as we transition to greater use of low-carbon energy sources to combat climate change.”

Next-generation nuclear reactors have the potential to be smaller, safer, less expensive to build, and better integrated with the modern grid. The primary goal of this study is to complete a technical assessment of these new and advanced reactors, and to identify challenges associated with commercialization and deployment.

Some of the topics that will be covered include:

  • The operational characteristics, including safety, of these technologies and their interaction with electricity systems, as well as other low-carbon generation resources that account for a growing fraction of electricity production
  • The economic and regulatory challenges associated with commercialization
  • The role, if any, for U.S. leadership in new and advanced nuclear technologies as they relate to international nuclear energy cooperation agreements, exports, and nonproliferation
  • The viability of these technologies in applications outside the electricity sector, for example in desalination, water and wastewater treatment, hydrogen production, or process heat
  • The future workforce and educational needs to support the research, development, and deployment of these technologies 

For more information about the Laying the Foundation for New and Advanced Nuclear Reactors in the United States study and to sign up for updates, please visit the study website. Nominations for the study committee are being accepted until Aug. 10.  Learn more about the committee selection and approval process here.


The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions related to science, technology, and medicine. They operate under an 1863 congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences, signed by President Lincoln.

Founded in 1964, the U.S. National Academy of Engineering is a private, independent, nonprofit institution that provides engineering leadership in service to the nation. Its mission is to advance the well-being of the nation by promoting a vibrant engineering profession and by marshalling the expertise and insights of eminent engineers to provide independent advice to the federal government on matters involving engineering and technology.

Brandon  Green
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