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      Energy Independence: 'Generous' Grant to Be’er Sheva Researcher

      First U.S.-Israeli Energy Independence Grant will focus on self-sustainable fuel cycles for regular-water nuclear reactors at Ben-Gurion Univ.
      By Hillel Fendel
      First Publish: 8/22/2010, 10:40 AM / Last Update: 8/22/2010, 10:44 AM

      Dr. Eugene Shwageraus, of Ben Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) in Be’er Sheva, has received a seven-figure research grant from the BSF (US-Israel Binational Science Foundation). He and his research partner, Dr. Michael Todosow of the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Long Island, New York, are working on developing a self-sustainable fuel cycle for light water reactors.

      The grant, which the university described as “generous,” is termed a U.S.-Israel Energy Independence Partnership Grant.

      Current plans for limiting carbon emissions require that nuclear energy use be expanded within the framework of renewable energy sources. The vast majority of the current generation of nuclear reactors is cooled and moderated using ordinary (light) water – but requires the use of enriched uranium. Heavy-water reactors, on the other hand, can be fueled with non-enriched uranium and are therefore more attractive as the world’s current energy sources are gradually depleted.

      The objective of the Shwageraus-Todosow project is to use light-water technology in combination with a self-sustainable thorium fuel cycle, which would also eliminate the need for uranium enrichment.

      The abundance of thorium in the Earth’s crust is estimated to be at least three times that of uranium.

      The BSF US-Israel Energy Independence Partnership Grants enable leading scientists from Israel and the United States to work together on projects focused on one of the most vital issues facing our world today: the quest for alternative and renewable energy solutions. The initiative has awarded $1.2 million in funding for six projects that address energy-related goals in solar energy, biofuels and clean, safe nuclear energy. Supported by the Israeli Ministry of National Infrastructures, these projects are the first phase of a multi-year program.

      The BSF promotes scientific relations between the U.S. and Israel by supporting collaborative research projects in a wide area of basic and applied scientific fields, for peaceful and non-profit purposes. Founded in 1972 by an agreement between the United States and Israel, the BSF is an independent body based in Israel, directed by a board of governors consisting of five American and five Israeli members. Numerous scientists participating in BSF programs have won prestigious awards such as the Nobel, Lasker, and Wolf prizes.