Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” at 70

December 8, 2023, 3:03PMNuclear News

Seventy years ago to the day, President Dwight D. Eisenhower gave his historic address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York City. (See December 2023 Nuclear News's “Leaders” column to read the reflections of Kathryn Huff, the Department of Energy’s assistant secretary for nuclear energy, on the speech’s anniversary.)

DOE issues $19 million Community Capacity Building Grant Program FOA

December 8, 2023, 12:01PMRadwaste Solutions

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management released a competitive funding opportunity announcement (FOA) on December 6 for the Community Capacity Building Grant Program, aimed at communities affected by DOE-EM’s mission to clean up legacy nuclear waste.

Lightbridge, Centrus to conduct study for pilot fuel fabrication plant

December 8, 2023, 9:32AMNuclear News

Signing CEOs: Centrus’s Daniel Poneman, left, and Lightbridge’s Seth Grae. (Photo: Lightbridge/X)

Nuclear fuel companies Lightbridge Corporation and Centrus Energy have announced a contract to conduct a front-end engineering and design (FEED) study to add a dedicated Lightbridge Pilot Fuel Fabrication Facility (LPFFF) at Centrus’s American Centrifuge Plant in Piketon, Ohio.

Lightbridge chief executive officer Seth Grae and Centrus CEO Daniel Poneman inked the agreement yesterday at the COP28 conference, currently underway in the United Arab Emirates.

The FEED study, according to the joint announcement, will identify infrastructure and licensing requirements as well as the estimated cost and construction schedule for the LPFFF. Centrus’s wholly owned subsidiary, American Centrifuge Operating, will lead the study, which is expected to be completed sometime next year.

Investments for peace

December 8, 2023, 7:01AMNuclear NewsKathryn Huff

Kathryn Huff

President Dwight D. Eisenhower delivered his “Atoms for Peace” speech to the United Nations General Assembly in December 1953. In this historic address, he invoked the existential threat of nuclear weapons proliferation and the potential horror of nuclear war to muster the diplomatic energy of the United Nations toward establishing peaceful uses for the atom. The speech launched domestic and international initiatives, including the International Atomic Energy Agency, that would underpin decades of robust, peaceful nuclear power commercialization and expansion.

This month, as we celebrate the 70th anniversary of that speech, we celebrate Eisenhower’s prescience in suggesting that “experts would be mobilized to apply atomic energy to the needs of agriculture, medicine, and other peaceful activities” and “to provide abundant electrical energy in the power-starved areas of the world.” Mobilizing American experts, of course, would mean refocusing the work of the national laboratories toward peaceful uses of the atom and repurposing the vast weapons complex investments of the 1940s toward more peaceful ends.

Granholm visits Clinch River Site to show support for SMRs

December 7, 2023, 3:01PMANS Nuclear Cafe
Secretary Granholm answers press questions at the Clinch River Nuclear Site while TVA president and CEO Jeff Lyash listens. (Photo: TVA)

Energy secretary Jennifer Granholm visited the Clinch River Nuclear Site in Oak Ridge, Tenn., on December 5 to highlight the Biden administration’s support for the Tennessee Valley Authority’s advanced nuclear technology program.

Granholm indicated that the administration is willing to provide funding for the nation’s first commercial small modular reactor at the site. “Excited to see a shovel in the ground, hopefully in a few more years,” she said. “TVA is leading on small modular reactors with this site. Everybody’s looking to TVA to make sure that this can actually happen.”

ANS Winter Meeting: Advanced reactor licensing

December 7, 2023, 12:04PMNuclear News

Executive sessions at ANS meetings tend to be geared toward the hot topics of the moment, and as the topic of advanced reactor licensing is producing as high a thermal output as any these days, it’s not surprising that the 2023 Winter Meeting and Expo included “Practical Experience with Advanced Reactor Licensing” in its executive session lineup.

Kerry shares U.S. plan for international fusion energy engagement on COP28 stage

December 7, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News

John Kerry speaks on U.S. fusion energy policy. (Photo: Craig Piercy)

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has a new plan for international partnerships in fusion energy development that would build on over 60 years of collaborative fusion research and development to address the climate crisis and ensure energy security. The plan, first released December 2, was announced December 5 at COP28 in Dubai, UAE, by John Kerry, the U.S. special presidential envoy for climate. He delivered “a call to action” during an Atlantic Council Global Energy Forum. The plan follows on the administration’s Bold Decadal Vision for Commercial Fusion Energy of March 2022, which recognized fusion energy’s increasing technical readiness and strong market interest—$6 billion to date.

“I'm pleased to announce the U.S. international engagement plan for fusion energy,” Kerry said. “This strategy identifies five areas of work that will help us to realize the promise of this technology, and they are R&D, supply chain and marketplace, regulation, workforce, and education and engagement.”

Recap: The 2023 ANS Winter Meeting

December 6, 2023, 3:03PMNuclear News

The American Nuclear Society’s 2023 Winter Meeting and Expo opened on November 12, and its packed opening plenary the next day generated a lot of buzz. Featured speakers included West Virginia senators Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin as well as Nuclear Regulatory Commission chair Christopher Hanson. They each addressed top issues facing the nuclear enterprise to a full house of more than 1,000 members of the wider nuclear community.

First container of test glass filled at Hanford’s Vit Plant

December 6, 2023, 12:00PMRadwaste Solutions
Crewmembers stand in front of the first stainless-steel container filled with molten test glass at Hanford’s Vit Plant. (Photo: Bechtel National)

Bechtel and the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management announced on December 4 that the first set of test glass was successfully poured into a stainless-steel storage container designed to hold vitrified waste at Hanford’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant, also known as the Vit Plant.

Survey reveals support for, but misconceptions about, nuclear energy

December 6, 2023, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Fifty-two percent of Americans either “strongly” or “somewhat” support nuclear energy as part of the United States’ energy mix, with the strongest support among Republicans (59 percent) and self-described independents (53 percent). Support among Democrats is 48 percent. Those are some of the results from the sixth annual American Climate Perspectives Survey conducted by ecoAmerica.

How do national labs help move nuclear technologies to deployment?

December 6, 2023, 7:06AMNuclear NewsHussein Khalil

Hussein Khalil

Within the next decade, it is expected that the first round of advanced reactor (AR) demonstration units will be successfully started up and operated, with additional industry-led nuclear energy initiatives progressing toward demonstration. These AR prototypes will be first-of-a-kind systems incorporating significant technological advances. Attracting the required investment for construction and operation will require persistent efforts to improve performance, reduce costs, attract an investor/-customer base, and establish the supply chain and workforce needed to meet this emerging demand.

Public-private partnerships focused on technology and design advancements will likely be needed through at least 2050. These partnerships will require the research community—and the national labs in particular—to play a key role in developing technical solutions for economically competitive systems and helping address other challenges to sustained and expanded use of nuclear energy. These challenges include managing used nuclear fuel, minimizing nuclear security and proliferation risks, and pursuing international markets.

ENEC inks deal with Kazatomprom, MOUs with TerraPower, GEH

December 5, 2023, 3:00PMNuclear News
Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, president of Kazakhstan (standing), looks on as the commercial uranium fuel supply contract between ENEC and Kazatomprom is signed. (Photo: Kazatomprom)

On the margins of the COP28 climate conference in Dubai, UAE, this week, Barakah nuclear plant owner Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) signed its first commercial uranium fuel supply contract with Kazatomprom, in addition to memorandums of understanding with two U.S.-based advanced reactor developers—TerraPower and GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH).

Reflections on Nuclear Science Week: Nuclear curiosity is on the rise

December 5, 2023, 12:01PMNuclear NewsAmelia Tiemann
The author on a walking tour of SONGS, with the reactor dome and dry cask storage in the background. (Photos by Amelia Tiemann)

Recently I had the opportunity to be the American Nuclear Society’s boots on the ground when I traveled to San Diego during Nuclear Science Week. I got to meet dozens of members of the nuclear community, tour the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, attend a screening of Oliver Stone’s Nuclear Now, and listen to a lively panel discussion about the importance of nuclear energy for solving climate change. It was a fun and illuminating experience, and I left with the impression that, excitingly, nuclear curiosity is on the rise.

What’s happening in big fusion? A global update

December 5, 2023, 9:35AMNuclear News

One year ago today, researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory achieved a record shot at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) that set the world talking about the potential of fusion energy. And the buzz hasn’t stopped. Fusion energy is getting its most significant attention yet on the world stage at COP28 in Dubai, UAE, where John Kerry, U.S. special presidential envoy for climate, delivered a keynote address today titled “An inclusive fusion energy future,” followed by a panel discussion.

Declaration to triple nuclear energy launched at COP28

December 5, 2023, 7:21AMNuclear News

As expected, a large number of nations at the COP28 climate conference in Dubai have issued a declaration to triple the world’s nuclear power capacity by 2050. John Kerry, U.S. special presidential envoy for climate, joined leaders and ministers from four continents on Saturday to announce the Declaration to Triple Nuclear Energy.

When deployments hit setbacks: Cautionary tales in Idaho and Alaska

December 4, 2023, 3:00PMNuclear News
A map of the potential reactor siting area (in green) at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska provided during a pre-proposal conference in October 2022. (Graphic: Department of the Air Force)

Plans announced with fanfare sometimes falter in the face of competition or economics. Take NuScale Power’s plans for the Carbon Free Power Project in Idaho: The project was canceled in mid-November by NuScale and its first customer, Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, after nearly a decade. The significance of that news depends on the observer. NuScale intends to focus on other sites and customers. Competitors may redouble efforts to tout their own designs and customer lists. Media found an opportunity to speculate about the future of advanced nuclear. And while many in the nuclear community believe the momentum in favor of new nuclear deployments is continuing—or even increasing as COP28 continues—others would caution against high hopes and point to the persistent obstacles of regulation, supply chain constraints, and financing costs.

New U.K. report: Young people want to know more about nuclear

December 4, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News

Almost two-thirds of 14- to 18-year-olds in the United Kingdom would consider a career in nuclear if they knew more about it, according to a new report, Nuclear Energy: Young People’s Views on Nuclear Energy and Careers in the Nuclear Sector, from the British Science Association (BSA).

About the report: The report was conducted as part of the BSA’s Future Forum program and was funded by Urenco, an international supplier of uranium enrichment services and fuel cycle products, as part of its commitment to education and skills development.

The report centered around an initial survey of 1,000 14- to 18-year-olds in England, Scotland, and Wales, with two follow-up workshops that were attended by 39 young people, providing the opportunity for more detailed responses.

Obstacles to new nuclear in Sweden cleared

December 4, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News

Aerial view of Sweden’s parliament building, Riksdagshuset, in Stockholm. (Photo: Arild Vågen/Wikipedia)

Sweden’s parliament, the Riksdag, has approved legislative amendments from Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson’s government that will remove the country’s prohibition on new reactor construction at sites other than Sweden’s three current nuclear plants—Forsmark, Ringhals, and Oskarshamn—and do away with the limitation on the number of simultaneously operating reactors, currently capped at 10.

The amendments enter force on January 1.

“The Riksdag shares the government’s assessment that fossil-free electricity from nuclear power will also continue to play a role of central importance in the Swedish energy mix,” the legislative body said in a statement following the November 29 vote. “The main reasons for this are an expected greater demand for electricity in combination with the fact that fossil fuels have to be phased out, particularly for climate reasons. Nuclear power also contributes to the stable and predictable functioning of the Swedish power system.”

Framatome to work with Romania’s Nuclearelectrica on Lu-177 production

December 4, 2023, 6:58AMNuclear NewsGuest Contributor
Framatome CEO Bernard Fontana (left) and Teodor Chirica, Nuclearelectrica board president, shake hands following the signing of the Lu-177 MOU in Paris. (Photo: Framatome)

Framatome and Nuclearelectrica, operator of Romania’s Cernavoda nuclear power plant, announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding to explore the possibility of producing the medical isotope lutetium-177. The cooperative agreement was signed during the World Nuclear Exhibition 2023, held November 28–30 in Paris.