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Partnership could advance nuclear research

Tuesday, July 20, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 1:41 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 5, 2008

The UM Board of Curators will decide Friday whether the Columbia and Rolla campuses can form a partnership with a management group to try to win a federal contract worth $2.6 million a year to the UM system.

If approved, the motion would allow the campuses to form a limited liability corporation with the Shaw Group, based in Louisiana. The corporation would then submit a proposal to the Department of Energy to manage and operate the to-be-established Idaho National Laboratory.

The Shaw Group would manage the facilities, and the campuses would oversee research conducted there.

The Shaw Group has experience in nuclear and facilities management and has provided facilities management services for several Department of Defense sites and for NASA at Cape Kennedy and Stennis Space Center, according to documents prepared for the curators.

The Idaho laboratory combines the research and development components of the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory West, according to an Energy Department press release. The department will review proposals from several institutions before awarding the contract.

The money would be invested in Idaho National Laboratory graduate fellows, faculty exchanges and enhancement, and sponsored chair and facilities and equipment programs, documents for the curators stated.

MU spokesman Christian Basi said that because MU is strong in nuclear research — MU’s nuclear reactor, although small when compared to power reactors like the one in Callaway County, is the largest research reactor at a university nationally — the school would benefit from a relationship with the new laboratory.

“Winning the INL contract will provide opportunities to the campuses for extensive and collaborative research that would not otherwise be available,” the documents stated. “It would also propel Missouri into a leadership role in developing and securing our nation’s energy supply. This national recognition will provide strength and credibility to the university’s future scientific proposals to DOE and other research funding agencies.”

Basi said other benefits include opportunities to exchange faculty with the laboratory, student internships, security projects, research, expanded funding opportunities and improvements in distance learning.

“The new laboratory will lead the department’s research and development effort in developing an advanced nuclear energy system that will produce both inexpensive electric power and large quantities of cost-effective hydrogen,” a DOE press release said.


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