Several contracting and engineering companies involved in the current build-out of a new generation of nuclear plants have received $30-million contracts from the Dept. of Energy to study and make recommendations on the design of future facilities.

The companies will report on new techniques for the design and construction of nuclear plants, provide analytical assessments and conceptual designs, and give advice on policy creation and research and development requirements.

This program is about looking “10 to 20 to 50 years down the line,” says Craig Grochmal, Shaw Group’s vice president of business development. Shaw was awarded one of six group contracts and will work with Westinghouse, Exelon, and Longenecker & Associates. The DOE awarded the five-year task-order contracts in June, but Shaw was not given permission to release the news until Oct. 4.

The other groups awarded contracts include Areva, with the assistance of Battelle National Laboratories, URS Group, Babcock & Wilcox and Duke Energy; CH2M Hill, with BCP Engineers; Enercon, with Entergy, S.M. Stoller and Anatech; EnergySolutions, with AECL, Booz Allen Hamilton, U.K. National Nuclear Laboratory, Exelon, International Nuclear Services, Sargent & Lundy, Talisman International, Teledyne Brown, Columbia Basin Consulting Group, Northwind and Terranear PMC LLC; and GE Hitachi, with Ernst & Young, Fluor, Lockheed Martin and Dupont.

Grochmal says one task assigned to Shaw and its partners is to look at “quicker and better” ways to build plants using modular design and construction. The group also is studying alternative fuels for nuclear reactors. As part of its contract, Shaw will share construction designs and methods being used on a mixed-fuel fabrication facility it is building, with Areva, for DOE at the Savannah River site.

Mitch Singer, a spokesman for the Washington, D.C.-based Nuclear Energy Institute, says the contract announcement is “a good indication of the Dept. of Energy and the Obama Administration’s commitment to nuclear energy.”