Inspecting nuclear facilities with unmanned aerial systems

October 22, 2021, 3:01PMNuclear NewsMonica Rivera Garcia

Over the past decade, unmanned aerial systems (UASs), more commonly referred to as drones, have played an increasing role in the day-to-day activities of the energy sector. Applications range from visually inspecting wind turbines, flare stacks, pipelines, and facilities to evaluating vegetation encroachment near power lines. Although the benefits of UASs have been reported in these industries, their use in the nuclear community has only recently been explored. For instance, a drone was sent into a waterbox at a Duke Energy facility to inspect for leaks.1 And at Fukushima Daiichi, a drone was used to conduct a post-accident radiation survey inside Unit 3, and drones are being investigated for use inside the damaged containments.2

New model improves understanding of how heat moves through fusion plasmas

October 22, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News
Physicist Suying Jin with computer-generated images showing the properties of heat pulse propagation in plasma (Image: PPPL/Jin/Kiran Sudarsanan)

Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have developed a new model of how heat flows within plasmas. According to PPPL, the model could improve insights into the behavior of plasmas and may help engineers avoid the conditions that could lead to heat loss in future fusion facilities.

DOE awards $50 million cost share for Limerick I&C modernization

October 22, 2021, 9:29AMNuclear News
Limerick nuclear power plant. (Photo: Arturo Ramos)

The Department of Energy is providing $50 million in a cost-sharing project with Exelon Generation to digitalize the control room at the company’s Limerick nuclear power plant, the department announced yesterday. Once implemented, the facility will house the first fully digital safety system upgrade at a U.S. nuclear power plant.

DOE and EPA agree on further cleanup work at Hanford’s 100-BC Area

October 22, 2021, 7:14AMRadwaste Solutions
The 100-BC Area (in green) within the Hanford Site. (Image: DOE)

Soil and groundwater contamination at the Hanford Site’s 100-BC Area will be treated under a record of decision (ROD) signed by the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, with the concurrence of the Washington State Department of Ecology.

IAEA provides a must-read for COP26 attendees

October 21, 2021, 12:01PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Doubtless with the intention of influencing some of the many nuclear agnostics expected at next week’s COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, the International Atomic Energy Agency last week released Nuclear Energy for a Net Zero World.

According to the 73-page report, nuclear power is key to achieving the goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by ensuring a 24/7 energy supply, which provides stability and resilience to electrical grids and facilitates the wider integration of variable renewables, such as wind and solar, needed to drive the clean energy transition.

Former NRC chairman joins Southern Company board

October 21, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News

Svinicki

Kristine Svinicki, former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, has joined the board of directors of Southern Company. Southern announced her election as an independent director on Monday. She joins the board’s Business Security and Resiliency Committee, as well as its Operations, Environmental, and Safety Committee.

“As the longest-serving member in the history of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Kristine brings to Southern Company a wealth of experience advising energy policy at the federal and state levels,” said Southern chairman, president, and chief executive officer Tom Fanning. “Kristine’s knowledge of and expertise in nuclear technologies will be invaluable as we pursue the full range of energy resources. Moreover, Kristine’s insight into the energy challenges of tomorrow places Southern Company in a prime position to serve customers, communities, employees, and stockholders well into the future.”

Colorado county looking at SMRs to replace coal

October 21, 2021, 7:16AMNuclear News

The expected early retirement of a massive coal plant in Pueblo County, Colo., has the county commissioners mulling small modular reactors as a power source replacement.

The plant in question is Xcel Energy’s three-unit Comanche Generating Station, Colorado’s largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions. In 2018, Xcel received approval from the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to retire Units 1 and 2 in 2023 and 2025, respectively. And earlier this year, the company filed a proposal to close the much newer Unit 3 in 2039—three decades earlier than expected. (Xcel also plans to run the unit at only 33 percent, beginning in 2030.) Meanwhile, environmental groups have been pushing for the closure of Unit 3 by the end of the decade.

Ensuring a role for nuclear in the response to climate change

October 20, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear NewsRichard Meserve

Richard Meserve

Nuclear power is an important tool in the response to climate change, and advanced reactors may offer advantages over existing plants in providing carbon-free generation at the scale necessary to respond to the existential challenge that climate change presents. The International Atomic Energy Agency is aggressively addressing issues related to the possible transition to advanced reactors. This letter is to urge a redoubling of effort by Member States to put in place the necessary capabilities to deal with the challenges that they present.

Animation depicts Hanford’s direct-feed waste treatment process

October 20, 2021, 12:09PMRadwaste Solutions
A screen shot from Hanford’s DFLAW animation. (Image: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) has released an animated video of the Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) Program at the Hanford Site near Richland, Wash. The video shows the integrated procedure for treating Hanford’s radioactive tank waste, a process EM says is a key component of its strategic cleanup vision.

View the animation here.

Canada and South Korea to cooperate on spent fuel research

October 20, 2021, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
In a virtual ceremony, CNL and KHNP signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperate on spent CANDU fuel research. (Image: CNL)

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) and Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP) intend to leverage data collected over decades on the dry storage of spent nuclear fuel to help inform decision-making on future spent fuel storage, transportation, and disposal activities.

European ministers to EC: “We need nuclear”

October 20, 2021, 6:59AMANS Nuclear Cafe
Flags in front of the European Commission building in Brussels. (Image: Sébastien Bertrand)

Sixteen ministers from 10 European Union member states argue for adding nuclear energy to the EU taxonomy in a joint letter published last week in leading European newspapers and sent to the European Commission.

NNSA awards SHINE $35 million for Mo-99 production

October 19, 2021, 2:34PMNuclear News
SHINE Technologies’ headquarters building in Janesville, Wis. (Photo: SHINE)

The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration has issued a cooperative agreement worth $35 million to SHINE Technologies, based in Janesville, Wis., to support the commercial production of molybdenum-99, a critical isotope used in more than 40,000 medical procedures in the United States each day, including the diagnosis of heart disease and cancer.

How will you celebrate Nuclear Science Week?

October 19, 2021, 9:26AMANS Nuclear Cafe

It’s the third week of October, and Nuclear Science Week, first recognized in 2009, has arrived! Nuclear Science Week is an annual opportunity to celebrate nuclear science; recognize the professionals who apply it to solving the world’s most pressing problems; encourage nuclear professional development and networking; and share information with students, educators, and community members about the vital role of nuclear science in the lives of all people.

ORNL researchers employ extraction probe for rapid safeguards analysis

October 19, 2021, 7:29AMNuclear News
ORNL’s Benjamin Manard places a swipe on the extraction stage of Advion’s Plate Express, a microextraction tool that has been paired with a mass spectrometer. (Photo: Carlos Jones/ORNL, DOE)

International nuclear safeguards verification relies on a precise count of isotope particles collected on swipes during International Atomic Energy Agency inspections of nuclear facilities and isolated through a series of lengthy chemical separations that can take about 30 days to complete. On October 15, Oak Ridge National Laboratory—a member of the IAEA’s Network of Analytical Laboratories (NWAL)—announced that analytical chemists at the site have developed a faster way to measure isotopic ratios of uranium and plutonium collected on swipes, which could help IAEA analysts detect the presence of undeclared nuclear activities or material.

Intellectuals plead with Germany to keep remaining nuclear

October 18, 2021, 3:01PMANS Nuclear Cafe
The Brokdorf nuclear plant, located in Germany’s Schleswig-Holstein region on the Elbe river, is scheduled to close later this year. (Photo: Alois Staudacher, CC BY-SA 3.0)

In an open letter published last week in Welt, 25 leading German and foreign academics, environmentalists, and journalists attempt to convince the German people that continuing with their nation’s phase-out of nuclear power is not a good idea, and certainly not a green one.

ARTMS submits Ga-68 radioisotope production paperwork with Health Canada

October 18, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News
A PET imaging machine. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

ARTMS, a Canadian producer of medical isotopes, announced that it has registered the cyclotron production of gallium-68 with the government of Canada, filing a Type 1 Master File with the Health Products & Food Branch of Health Canada. The Ga-68 radioisotope is used in nuclear medicine diagnostic procedures utilizing positron emission tomography (PET) imaging.

Life in three dimensions

October 18, 2021, 9:01AMNuclear NewsCraig Piercy

Craig Piercy

This month’s Nuclear News is dedicated to the people and technology that keep our nuclear energy facilities running. It’s one of the great untold stories of the modern industrial world: how a band of highly trained people have repeatedly and skillfully applied novel technology to keep decades-old nuclear plants running at peak performance. The feat itself can be hard for the uninitiated to fathom. It’s as if a 30-year-old pickup truck was still on the retail auto market and beating out brand-new models in Consumer Reports’ vehicle safety and reliability ratings.

World Energy Outlook 2021: Nuclear innovation needs to accelerate

October 18, 2021, 6:43AMNuclear News
Nuclear power capacity by scenario, 2020–2050 (STEPS: stated policies scenario, APS: announced pledges scenario, NZE: net-zero emissions by 2050 scenario). (Graphic: IEA World Energy Outlook 2021)

The International Energy Agency released its flagship report, World Energy Outlook 2021, on October 13, “at a time when policymakers are contending with the impacts of both climate change and volatile energy markets” and ahead of the COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, which begins October 31. With a net-zero emissions by 2050 (NZE) scenario that calls for nuclear power capacity to almost double by 2050, the report acknowledges that rapid development of advanced nuclear technologies could expand opportunities for nuclear energy to provide low-carbon electricity, heat, and hydrogen.

Neutron noise monitoring during plant operation expedites flexure replacement at Salem-1

October 15, 2021, 3:26PMNuclear NewsMatt Palamara, Ali Fakhar, Stephen Smith, Patrick Fabian, Nathan Lang, and George Holoman
Neutron noise monitoring allowed engineers to observe and interpret vibration characteristics captured by neutron flux detectors. (Photo: PSEG/Westinghouse)

The nuclear industry has historically relied on intermittent ultrasonic test and visual inspections of pressurized water reactor components to identify and manage degradation. While this reactive approach has proven to be effective, imagine a scenario in which the degradation could propagate throughout the reactor internals, making a more proactive measure necessary to avoid a major enterprise risk to the plant. Could a utility identify the onset of degradation within the reactor internals during plant operation? If so, could a repair be developed prior to the next refueling outage to prevent additional, cascading degradation? That is exactly the situation that Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG) and Westinghouse engineers were able to navigate over the course of the 2019–2020 operating cycle at Salem Unit 1, resulting in a tremendous success for the plant and a historic landmark in the nuclear industry, while earning the team a 2021 Nuclear Energy Institute Top Innovative Practice (TIP) award.