Route readiness elements in a large-scale spent nuclear fuel transportation system

November 23, 2022, 3:03PMNuclear NewsKevin J. Connolly, Lauren S. Rodman, and Matthew R. Feldman

The scale and duration of a national campaign to transport spent nuclear fuel (SNF) from commercial nuclear power plants around the United States would be unprecedented. A meticulous level of planning that considers many elements is needed to inspire public confidence and support.

NRC investigates improper fuel use at University of Texas research reactor

November 23, 2022, 12:02PMANS Nuclear Cafe
The TRIGA Mark II nuclear research reactor. (Photo: University of Texas)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has conducted a special inspection at the University of Texas’s TRIGA Mark II nuclear research reactor in Austin to evaluate the use of improper fuel. The inspection was ordered following a notification from the University of Texas—Austin to the NRC that the research reactor had been operating for several months with two fuel elements that were not licensed for the reactor.

U.K. government reaffirms backing of Sizewell C project

November 23, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

Hunt

U.K. chancellor of the exchequer Jeremy Hunt last week assuaged any concerns that Britain’s nuclear energy advocates might have been harboring regarding the new government’s support for the proposed Sizewell C plant. (The United Kingdom is on its third prime minister since July, when Boris Johnson’s government granted EDF Energy its long-awaited development consent order for the new nuclear build project.)

What he said: In his November 17 Autumn Statement, while noting the United Kingdom’s status as “a global leader in renewable energy,” Hunt added, “We need to go further, with a major acceleration of home-grown technologies like offshore wind, carbon capture, and storage, and, above all, nuclear. This will deliver new jobs, industries, and export opportunities and secure the clean, affordable energy we need to power our future economy and reach net zero."

Two reports agree: Diverse advanced reactor fuel cycles can succeed

November 23, 2022, 6:39AMNuclear News

Advanced reactors and small modular reactors with strikingly different coolants and sizes offer an array of different benefits, but when it comes to fuel cycle issues, including spent fuel and waste, they have a lot in common with conventional light water reactors. Two reports released within the last week—a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Mathematics (NASEM) consensus committee report two years in the making and a Department of Energy study released by Argonne National Laboratory—address the timely topic of advanced reactor fuel cycle issues. While the NASEM committee ventured to define research and infrastructure needs to support the entire nuclear power fuel cycle, inclusive of new technologies, for decades to come, the DOE report compares the front- and back-end fuel cycle metrics of three reactor designs (from NuScale Power, TerraPower, and X-energy) that have been selected for DOE cost-share–funded demonstrations within this decade. Together, these reports provide assurance that the fuel cycle needs of a fleet of new reactors can be met and point to near-term research and planning needs.

Diablo Canyon approved for federal funding; Palisades denied

November 22, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News
The Palisades nuclear power plant, in Michigan, before it was permanently closed. (Photo: Holtec)

Pacific Gas & Electric’s two-unit Diablo Canyon plant—California’s lone operating nuclear power facility—has been deemed eligible for the initial round of funding from the Civil Nuclear Credit (CNC) Program, the Department of Energy announced yesterday.

The decision was welcomed by a nuclear community disappointed by last Friday’s news that the DOE had rejected Holtec International’s CNC application for the recently closed Palisades nuclear plant in Michigan, despite support for the effort from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Nuclear: Building enthusiasm at COP27

November 22, 2022, 12:05PMNuclear News
Energy secretary Jennifer Granholm (in purple blazer) and the ANS-sponsored delegates pose in front of the Nuclear for Climate booth at COP27.

Nuclear energy is no longer on the fringes of the international climate conversation. At COP27, the United Nations climate change conference held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, from November 6 to 18, pronuclear advocates were everywhere—and they were talking to everyone. They populated the International Atomic Energy Agency’s #Atoms4Climate pavilion, the first-ever nuclear pavilion in the 27-year history of the negotiations. Echoing such strong representation, the final statement issued by the conference used language that included nuclear power.

NEXT Lab’s molten salt research reactor inches closer to NRC approval

November 22, 2022, 9:31AMANS Nuclear Cafe
The molten salt test loop at ACU’s NEXT Lab. (Photo: Jeremy Enlow/SteelShutter)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has announced that it will review a construction permit submitted by the Nuclear Energy eXperimental Testing (NEXT) Laboratory at Abilene Christian University for the lab’s planned molten salt research reactor (MSRR). The NRC informed Rusty Towell, director of the NEXT Lab and professor in ACU’s Department of Engineering and Physics, about its acceptance of the construction permit review in a November 18 letter. The NEXT Lab had submitted the construction permit application on August 15; it was the first-ever university application for an advanced research reactor. On October 14, they provided the NRC with additional information about instrumentation and controls. (Nuclear News featured an article about the NEXT Lab and the MSRR in the November issue.)

Nuclear waste disposal—What choice do we really have?

November 22, 2022, 6:50AMNuclear NewsJames Conca

Taking waste into outer space would require quite large vehicles, like the Saturn 5 rocket shown here carrying the Apollo 14 crew to the moon. A huge fireball forms underneath the rocket . . . hmm, would that be wise? (Source: NASA)

Nuclear waste disposal presents a frustrating problem far beyond its actual danger. No one has ever been harmed by commercial nuclear waste, and no one is likely to ever be harmed.

But we do have to find a final resting place for nuclear waste as it decays away back to the levels of the ore from which it came.

There are several types of nuclear waste: low-­level waste (LLW), intermediate-­level waste (ILW), transuranic waste (TRU; referring only to bomb waste without a lot of ­cesium-­137 or strontium-­90), high-­level waste (HLW; also only bomb waste), and spent nuclear fuel (SNF; from commercial power plants only). In the United States, TRU waste, HLW, and SNF require deep geologic disposal by law.

Bruce Power advances nuclear carbon offset project

November 21, 2022, 3:04PMNuclear News
The Bruce Power A and B nuclear power plants. (Photo: CNSC)

Canada’s Bruce Power, operator of the eight-unit Bruce nuclear plant in Kincardine, Ontario, has announced a “made-in-Ontario solution” to the net-zero challenges faced by industries: allowing new incremental nuclear output to be accredited for an avoided emissions benefit.

Virginia Uranium’s new owner hopes to wait out mining moratorium

November 21, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News
Coles Hill property location. (Image: Consolidated Uranium)

Consolidated Uranium plans to acquire Virginia Energy Resources, which owns Virginia Uranium and the Coles Hill Uranium Project, an undeveloped uranium deposit that sits under about 3,000 acres of land in south central Virginia. The state’s General Assembly has maintained a moratorium on uranium mining since 1982 that was upheld in the courts as recently as 2020, but Consolidated Uranium sees reason for “confidence that the moratorium on developing uranium projects in the state may ultimately be overcome,” and appears content to settle in for a wait.

Deploy, deploy, deploy: Achieving our climate goals requires nuclear this decade

November 21, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear NewsJigar Shah

Jigar Shah

The Biden-­Harris administration has committed to decarbonizing the power sector by 2035 and the economy by 2050, while creating good jobs and promoting equity. There’s no question that the lowest-­cost, most reliable grid of the future will require clean, firm baseload power to support intermittent renewable energy.

Nuclear is such a reliable source of firm, flexible baseload power for the grid. Energy mix optimization models show that as penetration of renewables (such as solar and wind) grows, required energy storage capacity also grows, leading to increasing cost competitiveness of dispatchable carbon-­free power sources (including low-­impact hydro, geothermal energy, carbon capture and storage, zero-­carbon fuels like hydrogen, and nuclear). Nuclear power is an essential component of America’s transition to a clean electric grid to maintain reliability, resiliency, and affordability.

U.S., Ukraine launch SMR project for clean hydrogen production

November 21, 2022, 7:13AMNuclear News
U.S. special envoy for climate John Kerry at COP27. (Photo: Embassy of Ukraine in the United States of America)

U.S. special envoy for climate John Kerry and Ukraine’s minister of energy German Galushchenko have announced a two-to-three-year pilot project aimed at demonstrating the commercial-scale production of clean hydrogen and ammonia from small modular reactors in Ukraine using solid oxide electrolysis.

Importance of environmental monitoring for consent-based siting of nuclear facilities

November 18, 2022, 3:04PMNuclear NewsHaruko Wainwright and Carol Eddy-Dilek

Consent-based siting has become one of the emergent priorities in nuclear energy, particularly for spent fuel storage and high-level waste (HLW) disposal.1 Consent-based siting is based on broad public participation to address the needs and concerns of communities, aiming for equity and environmental justice. While there are some successful examples (Finland and Sweden above all), consent-based siting is not a straightforward process. Although Japan, for example, adopted consent-based siting for their HLW disposal over 20 years ago, it has not yet identified a community to host a repository. Environmental and safety concerns have been the biggest bottleneck for siting nuclear facilities. A recent proposal for the interim storage in Andrews, Texas, for instance, has been opposed by Gov. Greg Abbott and others.

Keystone State lawmakers show interest in SMRs

November 18, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives this week adopted a resolution directing the Joint State Government Commission to conduct a “holistic” study on the benefits of nuclear energy and small modular reactors. (The JSGC, according to its website, serves as the Pennsylvania General Assembly’s primary research organization, providing the legislature with a readily available mechanism for conducting interdisciplinary studies.) The November 15 vote was unanimous, 197–0.

NRC to review updated North Anna SLR report; public input sought

November 18, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
The North Anna nuclear power plant. (Photo: Stuartmj/Wikipedia)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is seeking public comment on the scope of its supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) concerning Dominion Energy’s subsequent license renewal (SLR) application for North Anna-1 and -2, the agency announced earlier this week.

Artemis I mannequin crew outfitted with dosimeters for trip around the moon

November 18, 2022, 6:53AMNuclear News
A rendering of Helga and Zohar side by side aboard the Orion spacecraft. (Image: NASA/Lockheed Martin/DLR)

NASA’s Artemis I mission, successfully launched at 1:47 a.m. EST on November 16 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, will travel 40,000 miles beyond the moon—farther from Earth than any human-crewed space mission has flown before. The historic trip was launched by the world’s largest rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), nearly 50 years after NASA last sent humans to the moon. And while no humans are on board the Orion spacecraft, two fabricated crew members—“Luna Twins” Helga and Zohar—were assembled with thousands of sensors to obtain the best estimates yet of cosmic radiation exposure to human tissues during space travel.

CP-1 at 80: Preparing for the first controlled nuclear chain reaction

November 17, 2022, 3:08PMNuclear News
From left, the cover of the December 1962 issue of NN, featuring a model and a medal, both displayed at the 1962 ANS Winter Meeting; a photo of CP-1 during construction, as published in the November 1992 issue of NN; the opening page of a chronological account of CP-1, published in November 1992 to mark the 50th anniversary.

As we approach the 80th anniversary of controlled nuclear fission, Nuclear Newswire is prepared to deliver not one but three #ThrowbackThursday posts of CP-1 highlights unearthed from past issues of Nuclear News.

ANS was founded in 1954, nearly 12 years after the first controlled nuclear chain reaction was achieved on December 2, 1942, inside a pile of graphite and uranium assembled on a squash court at the University of Chicago’s Stagg Field. By 1962, ANS was prepared to “salute the 20th anniversary of the first chain reaction” at their Winter Meeting, displaying a model of Chicago Pile-1 and presenting a specially cast medal to Walter Zinn, a representative of Enrico Fermi’s scientific team. Over the years, ANS has continued to mark significant anniversaries of CP-1 at national meetings and in NN.

General Fusion marshals CNL support for Canadian fusion power by 2030

November 17, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News
This still image, taken from a General Fusion video, explains the demo plant that will be built near Oxford, U.K. (Image: General Fusion)

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) and General Fusion have announced a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to “develop fusion energy research capabilities within CNL, to support the goal of constructing a potential General Fusion commercial power plant in Canada before 2030.” The plant would follow on a demonstration-scale plant that General Fusion wants to have operating in the United Kingdom by 2027 to validate the performance and economics of the technology.

Report touts nuclear energy’s investment attractiveness based on ESG standards

November 17, 2022, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Nuclear energy “has exceptional characteristics that make it uniquely qualified to address all three facets of the energy trilemma: affordability, sustainability, and reliability,” according to a new report, Solving the Energy Trilemma: The Case for Nuclear as a Sustainable Investment. Developed by the Center for ESG and Sustainability (CESG), which has a partnership with Columbia University’s International Research Institute for Climate and Society, the report concludes, “Even absent ESG [environmental, social, and governance] considerations, nuclear is an investible asset. However, its strong ESG performance makes the case for investment even stronger.”

Lawmaker releases U.S. nuclear energy “blueprint”

November 17, 2022, 7:00AMNuclear News

Duncan

Rep. Jeff Duncan (R., S.C.), a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has issued a three-page “Blueprint for Nuclear Innovation and Competitiveness,” highlighting nuclear policy priorities in the areas of licensing and regulatory modernization, financing, and fuel (including used fuel). According to a press release from Duncan’s office, the document aims “to help chart the course for the nuclear energy agenda in the next Congress and facilitate policy discussions among both lawmakers and industry leaders.” Published last week—along with a related “Dear Colleague” letter—the blueprint is also, according to E&E News, “a sign of his ambitions for landing a more senior role with the committee,” including a subcommittee leadership position should the GOP gain control of the House in the next Congress.