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University of Idaho Receives Grant to Develop Partnership with Japan’s Sakae Casting

November 15, 2017

The University of Idaho, its Idaho Falls center and partners at Boise State University and the Center for Advanced Energy Studies have secured a grant from the Idaho Department of Commerce that further develops the university’s partnership with Japanese company Sakae Casting. 

The $237,898 grant, awarded through the Idaho Global Entrepreneurial Mission (IGEM) program of the Idaho Department of Commerce, will help fund research efforts toward the development of an aluminum cast with embedded natural boron for cooling used nuclear fuel.

Richard Christensen, director of nuclear engineering at U of I in Idaho Falls, and Assistant Professor of nuclear engineering R. A. Borrelli will work with partners CAES and BSU on the project.

 “Being housed at the Center for Advanced Energy Studies affords us the opportunity to develop unique partnerships between Boise State University and the University of Idaho's nuclear engineering program,” Borrelli said. “Our project is in line with the vision of CAES Director Noël Bakhtian to develop collaborations with the Idaho universities and enhance the research capabilities within the state of Idaho. The support of IGEM for this project brings the state of Idaho into a strong role in the nuclear energy industry.”

Efforts on the IGEM project will go toward commercialization research aimed at bringing Sakae’s viable technologies to market. 

“We are delighted to receive this award and grateful to the IGEM Council and the state of Idaho for making it possible,” said Janet Nelson, vice president of U of I’s Office of Research and Economic Development. “This project is a testament to our collaborative approach to research, and highlights the global impact of Idaho innovations.”

Sakae, a Tokyo-based aluminum casting specialist, worked with U of I and its partners at Regional Economic Development for Eastern Idaho (REDI) to select Idaho Falls for its first office in the United States. That office – opened earlier this year – will allow the company to work directly with U of I in eastern Idaho, the Idaho National Laboratory, CAES and the region’s nuclear and advanced manufacturing sectors. 

The IGEM grant is the second awarded to an Idaho Falls-based project in as many years. U of I’s College of Engineering was previously awarded a $2.1 million IGEM grant in 2016 to help develop new methods of protecting the cyber systems that control Idaho and the nation’s critical infrastructure – everything from manufacturing to medical industries that rely heavily on control systems in their facilities.

Media Contact: 

Marc Skinner
Executive Officer
University of Idaho, Idaho Falls

Jeremy K. Tamsen
Director, Office of Technology Transfer
University of Idaho Office of Research and Economic Development

About the University of Idaho

The University of Idaho, home of the Vandals, is Idaho’s land-grant, national research university. From its residential campus in Moscow, U of I serves the state of Idaho through educational centers in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls, nine research and Extension centers, plus Extension offices in 42 counties. Home to nearly 12,000 students statewide, U of I is a leader in student-centered learning and excels at interdisciplinary research, service to businesses and communities, and in advancing diversity, citizenship and global outreach. U of I competes in the Big Sky Conference. Learn more at