Hot U market and simmering interest in HALEU: It boils down to demand

September 22, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News
(Click photo to enlarge) One of 16 AC100M gas centrifuges built by Centrus Energy for HALEU production in Piketon, Ohio. (Photo: Centrus Energy)

For years, pressure has been building for a commercial path to a stable supply of high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU)—deemed essential for the deployment of advanced power reactors—but advanced reactor developers and enrichment companies are still watching and waiting. In contrast, the uranium spot price soared after Sprott Physical Uranium Trust, a Canadian investment fund formed in July, began buying up U3O8 supplies, causing the price to increase over 60 percent, topping $50 per pound for the first time since 2012. Fueled by growing acknowledgment that nuclear power is a necessary part of a clean energy future, uranium is the focus of attention from Wall Street to Capitol Hill.

Granholm, Grossi prepare for 2022 nuclear ministerial conference

September 22, 2021, 12:02PMNuclear News
U.S. energy secretary Jennifer Granholm and IAEA director general Rafael Mariano Grossi pose for a photo before their September 21 meeting announcing the next International Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Power in the 21st Century. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

U.S. energy secretary Jennifer Granholm and International Atomic Energy Agency director general Rafael Mariano Grossi met in Vienna yesterday during the agency’s 65th General Conference to launch preparations for the next IAEA International Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Power in the 21st Century, slated for October 26–28, 2022, in Washington, D.C.

Biochemistry research could have implications in nuclear waste remediation

September 22, 2021, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
During a fluorescence spectroscopy experiment at LLNL, the protein lanmodulin makes radioactive curium glow when exposed to UV light in the sample to the right. The schematic (left) represents the structure of the curium-protein complex, with three curium atoms bound per molecule of protein. (Photo: LLNL)

Scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, working in collaboration with researchers at Penn State University and Harvard Medical School, have discovered a new mechanism by which radionuclides could spread in the environment.

The research, which has implications for nuclear waste management and environmental chemistry, was published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society on September 20.

TVA gives up construction permits for Bellefonte units

September 22, 2021, 7:02AMNuclear News

Nearly 47 years after being issued construction permits for two reactors at the Bellefonte site in northeast Alabama, the Tennessee Valley Authority has decided against renewing them, essentially extinguishing any remaining hope for the project, on which the utility has reportedly spent more than $5 billion.

Three Studies in Site Remediation

September 21, 2021, 12:00PMRadwaste SolutionsJeremy Kartchner

For any nuclear power plant that has been permanently shut down, site restoration is the ultimate decommissioning goal when contracting with a utility to demolish a facility. The task, however, is not as simple as mobilizing heavy equipment and waving a wrecking ball or planting explosives to implode the facility, then loading up the debris and sending it to a landfill.

There is a real science and engineering approach necessary to safely restore the land to its original state. That has been the goal for EnergySolutions over the past decade as the company works to safely decommission shuttered nuclear power plants—packaging, transporting, and disposing of the waste, and restoring the sites for whatever reuse the owners and host communities see fit.

Results of advanced nuclear survey released

September 21, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News

The U.S. Nuclear Industry Council has released the results of its 2021 Advanced Nuclear Survey.

The results, issued late last month, include information from 17 USNIC-member advanced nuclear developers on topics such as federal and state policies, types of reactors in development, U.S./Canadian licensing, need for control room operators, Nuclear Regulatory Commission fees, Department of Energy programs, and high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU). In addition, 24 companies (the 17 member firms plus seven nonmember firms) provided their perspectives on the NRC’s planned 10 CFR Part 53 regulation of advanced reactors.

Eliminated as a repository site, Germany’s Gorleben salt mine to be closed

September 21, 2021, 7:05AMRadwaste Solutions
The headframe and buildings at the Gorleben salt dome in Germany. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The German government has announced that it is closing the Gorleben salt mine in the Wendland region of Lower Saxony, officially removing the site from consideration as a repository for radioactive waste. Gorleben became a target of antinuclear protests after being proposed as a potential repository in the 1970s.

IAEA boosts projections for nuclear power’s potential growth

September 20, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News

The International Atomic Energy Agency has revised upward its projections regarding the potential growth of nuclear power’s capacity for electricity generation over the next three decades. The upward revision is the first by the IAEA since the Fukushima Daiichi accident in 2011.

Released last week, the 148-page report, Energy, Electricity and Nuclear Power Estimates for the Period up to 2050, provides detailed glimpses into possible nuclear futures in North America; Latin America and the Caribbean; Northern, Western, and Southern Europe; Eastern Europe; Africa; Western Asia, Southern Asia, and Central and Eastern Asia; Southeastern Asia; and Oceania. Global and regional nuclear power projections are presented as low and high cases.

ANS Standards Committee responds to the industry’s need for PRA and RIPB methodology

September 20, 2021, 12:04PMNuclear Newsthe Standards Committee
An artist’s rendering of the NuScale plant. (Image: NuScale)

For more than two decades, the American Nuclear Society’s Standards Committee has recognized the benefit of incorporating risk-informed and performance-based (RIPB) methodology into ANS standards to improve their effectiveness, efficiency, and transparency. In general, standards using RIPB methods with properly identified and structured objectives need less modification and can be expected to remain valid for much longer periods.

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ANS's Nesbit joins panel on Illinois radio program

September 20, 2021, 9:30AMANS News

Nesbit

Following the passage of Illinois’s Energy Transition Act last week, an NPR affiliate in central Illinois hosted a 30-minute panel discussion with three guests to discuss the landmark legislation. The radio program, The 21st Show, invited Jennifer Walling, executive director of the Illinois Environmental Council, Mark Denzler, president and chief executive officer of the Illinois Manufacturers' Association, and Steven Nesbit, president of the American Nuclear Society, to discuss the different sides of this debate. Two were supporters of the bill, and one was opposed to it.

Background: Because of the “landmark but controversial clean energy bill,” as described on The 21st Show’s website, “Nuclear power plants will be kept online, and solar and wind developments will continue to grow, while coal and natural gas power plants are expected to gradually go off line. In the long term, Illinois's electricity will be produced completely from clean sources by 2050.”

IP3 signs on to nuclear plant development in Poland

September 20, 2021, 7:01AMNuclear News

McLean, Va.–based IP3 Corporation and Polish electricity producer Zespół Elektrowni Patnów-Adamów-Konin SA (ZE PAK) signed an agreement earlier this month regarding the development of nuclear power plants in Poland. IP3 is to be ZE PAK’s main advisor in the process, with Georgette Mosbacher, a former U.S. ambassador to Poland (2018–2021) who recently joined the IP3 board, leading the effort for the American company.

ZE PAK is currently involved in various initiatives associated with nuclear technologies for Poland, including a plan to use nuclear power for the production of hydrogen.

Helping to save the plant safety puzzle: An overview of PRA

September 17, 2021, 3:01PMNuclear NewsCurtis Smith, Andrew Miller, Stephen Hess, and Fernando Ferrante

Probabilistic risk assessments (PRAs) have advanced the safe operation of the U.S. reactor fleet over many decades. Risk insights from PRAs have provided information from many different perspectives, from what is most important to maintain at a facility to a better understanding of how to address new information regarding safety issues. The methods and tools that have supported the creation and enhancement of PRA models were established through multiple decades of research, starting with WASH-1400, The Reactor Safety Study,1 published in 1975, through the comprehensive plant-specific models in use today.

NuScale advances work with BWXT, builds out Canada’s SMR supply chain

September 17, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News
BWXT Canada’s Cambridge, Ontario, facility. (Photo: BWXT Canada)

NuScale Power announced earlier this week that manufacturing process development work on its small modular reactor—the NuScale Power Module—is advancing at BWXT Canada Ltd.’s Cambridge, Ontario, facility in preparation for module fabrication. NuScale said that this work is critical to the development of its SMR technology and is an example of the supply chain development opportunities for Canadian companies with the requisite power plant equipment expertise.

Draft EIS released for Project Pele mobile microreactor demo at INL

September 17, 2021, 9:37AMNuclear News

Plans to test a prototype mobile microreactor designed to military requirements moved ahead when the Department of Defense (DOD), acting through its Strategic Capabilities Office and with the Department of Energy serving as a cooperating agency, on September 16 announced the availability of a draft environmental impact statement for the construction and demonstration phase of Project Pele.

Terrestrial Energy upgrades IMSR plant design

September 17, 2021, 7:03AMNuclear News
Rendition of the IMSR400 power plant in the configuration proposed for the Darlington site. (Image: Terrestrial Energy)

Terrestrial Energy has upgraded the design of its Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) nuclear power plant, the company announced on September 14. The proposed facility will now feature 390 MWe of generation capacity for grid supply from twin reactors and generators.

Illinois governor signs energy bill aiding nuclear plants

September 16, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News
Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker appreciates applause at the signing event for the state's new energy bill.

In an hour-long ceremony held yesterday at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium amid some fanfare (it included an appearance by lizards, a snake, and a penguin), Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (S.B. 2408). The bill is a sweeping overhaul of the state’s energy policies aimed at phasing out fossil-fuel power generation and placing Illinois on a path to become a 100 percent carbon-free energy producer by 2050.

Helium-3 to be produced from tritium stored at Canada’s Darlington station

September 16, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News
Don Perrie (left). of OPG, and Michael Lefebvre, of Laurentis Energy Partners, examine tew He-3 extraction tool installed at Darlington NPP

Laurentis Energy Partners, a subsidiary of Ontario Power Generation (OPG), has launched a new program to produce helium-3. The He-3 will be obtained from tritium stored at OPG’s Darlington nuclear power plant, a four-unit CANDU station located about 100 kilometers east of Toronto.

Darlington houses one of the world’s largest reserves of tritium, which is a by-product of the heavy water used in CANDU reactors.

ANS urges Congress to address availability of HALEU for advanced reactor fuel

September 16, 2021, 9:30AMANS News
Click image to enlarge

Congress needs to take swift action to build a domestic supply of high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) to fuel advanced reactors, the American Nuclear Society declares in a September 14 letter to Sens. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.), chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and John Barrasso (R., Wyo.), the committee’s ranking member.

Energy markets strained by price spikes make the case for nuclear

September 16, 2021, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Energy prices surged across Europe recently as markets were stricken by reduced output from wind turbines. Low supplies of natural gas had already boosted the cost of the gas–powered generation required to make up for dips in renewable energy sources. The result: a series of dire headlines, soaring prices for natural gas, and the startup of idled coal power plants.