NNSA cancels M&O contract for Pantex and Y-12, to hold separate contract competitions

May 23, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News
The Pantex Plant in Texas (Photo: NNSA)

The National Nuclear Security Administration announced last week that it is canceling its November 2020 contract solicitation for management and operation of the Pantex Plant and Y-12 National Security Complex and terminating the contract award announced in November 2021 for the two sites. The NNSA intends to hold two new competitions for separate contracts to manage each site.

Entergy closes Palisades 11 days early

May 23, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
The Palisades nuclear power plant

Despite last month’s strong (and many might say overdue) expression of interest from Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in extending the operational life of the Palisades nuclear power plant via the Department of Energy’s new Civil Nuclear Credit Program, the facility’s 777-MWe pressurized water reactor was removed from service last Friday—11 days prior to its scheduled May 31 retirement date.

Illinois consumers are saving money by keeping nuclear plants open

May 23, 2022, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe
Byron nuclear power plant (Photo: Constellation)

“Keeping Illinois nuclear plants open is saving some customers $237 a year on average,” reads the headline of a recent CNBC article about the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act, which was passed by the Illinois legislature and signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker in September 2021. The legislation includes a provision to keep Illinois nuclear power plants open to meet the state’s clean energy goals, even if the facilities are not profitable.

Cost drivers of nuclear steam cycle construction

May 20, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear NewsDaniel Moneghan

Interest in reducing carbon emissions around the world continues to climb. As a complement to the increasing deployment of variably generating renewables, advanced nuclear is commonly shown in net-zero grid modeling for 2050 because it represents firm electricity production that can flex in output with load demands.1 However, these projections are challenged by the high levelized cost of electricity associated with legacy nuclear construction, which is often more than double that of modern combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plants.

A passionate call to save Diablo Canyon

May 20, 2022, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe

In a recent opinion piece for the San Luis Obispo Tribune, Heather Hoff describes her conversion from nuclear energy skeptic to advocate and lays out the case for keeping the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant open beyond its planned closure in 2025.

Hoff, who is an operations procedure writer at Diablo Canyon, tells how she spent years "excessively and sometimes annoyingly" investigating her concerns about the safety of nuclear after she was first hired at Diablo Canyon. She adds that she almost quit her job after the Fukushima accident until realizing that many concerns about that event were triggered by "fear of nuclear, rather than nuclear itself.”

ANS approves two new student sections

May 20, 2022, 7:01AMANS News
Boise State University students visiting the site of the first nuclear-generated electricity in 1951 at EBR-I. (Photo: BSU)

Earlier this month, the ANS Board of Directors approved the creation of two new student sections—Reed College in Portland, Ore., and Boise State University in Boise, Idaho.

ANS’s student sections represent the next generation of nuclear—they are critical to the Society’s goal of aiding the next generation in their pursuit of advancing, fostering, and promoting the development and application of nuclear sciences and technologies for the benefit of humankind. Student sections provide students with the knowledge, tools, and opportunities required to achieve success in or out of the nuclear field.

Penn State wants a Westinghouse eVinci microreactor on campus

May 19, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News
Representatives from Westinghouse and Penn State met at Westinghouse headquarters to sign a memorandum of understanding and enter a partnership focused on researching and developing microreactors. From left: Jason Beebe, director of the global transformation office at Westinghouse; Michael Valore, senior director of advance reactor commercialization, Westinghouse; Mike Shaqqo, senior vice president of advanced reactors, Westinghouse; Lora Weiss, senior vice president for research at Penn State; Jean Paul Allain, head of the Ken and Mary Alice Lindquist Department of Nuclear Engineering at Penn State; Geanie Umberger, associate vice president for research and director of industry research collaborations at Penn State; Saya Lee, assistant professor of nuclear engineering; Elia Merzari (back), associate professor of nuclear engineering; and Hilary Ruby, director of transformation for the Americas Operating Plant Services Business Unit at Westinghouse. (Photo: Westinghouse)

Penn State University has announced plans to explore siting a Westinghouse Electric Company eVinci microreactor on its State College campus in central Pennsylvania. Under a memorandum of understanding to perform research and development work that could advance the future commercial deployment of eVinci, a team of researchers in Penn State’s Ken and Mary Alice Lindquist Department of Nuclear Engineering also plans to explore how eVinci could displace some fossil-fueled energy sources on campus.

Georgia Tech–led consortium focuses on emerging technologies and nonproliferation

May 19, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News

The Department of Energy’s semiautonomous National Nuclear Security Administration funds three university–national laboratory consortia: the Consortium for Enabling Technologies and Innovation (ETI), led by the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta; the Consortium for Monitoring, Technology, and Verification (MTV), led by the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor; and the Nuclear Science and Security Consortium (NSSC), led by the University of California–Berkeley. All three consortia are involved in education and research related to nuclear security and nonproliferation.

Defense agency invests in fusion- and radioisotope-powered space propulsion

May 19, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
Artist’s rendering of USNC spacecraft using EmberCore. (Image: DIU)

The Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), a Department of Defense organization focused on swiftly putting commercial technology to use in the U.S. military, has awarded contracts for two nuclear technologies—compact fusion and radioisotope heat—for spacecraft that could carry a high-power payload and freely maneuver in cislunar space. The objective is to accelerate ground and flight testing and launch a successful orbital prototype demonstration of each approach in 2027.

NRC extends public comment period on decommissioning rule

May 19, 2022, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has extended the deadline for comments on its new decommissioning rulemaking until August 30. The proposed rule, which would amend NRC regulations pertaining to nuclear facilities transitioning to decommissioning, was first published in the Federal Register on March 3 with deadline for comments of May 17.

DOE extends application deadline for nuclear credit program

May 18, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News

The Department of Energy today announced an extension to its deadline for applications and sealed bid submissions under the $6 billion Civil Nuclear Credit (CNC) Program, launched earlier this year.

According to the DOE, owners and operators of nuclear power reactors most at risk of premature retirement due to economic difficulties have 47 more days to submit applications for certification and sealed bids for credits. The deadline for the first CNC award cycle, originally set for tomorrow, is now 11:59 p.m. MDT on July 5.

DOE-NE 2023 budget priorities summarized in ANS online program

May 18, 2022, 11:59AMNuclear News

A team from the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy joined ANS Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer Craig Piercy on April 27 for an ANS members–only online event to discuss the Biden administration’s fiscal year 2023 NE budget proposal. The proposed total for the office, $1.675 billion, is more than a $20 million increase from the FY 2022 enacted level of $1.654 billion.

Returning Colorado to “the power of the atom”

May 18, 2022, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe
Fort St. Vraine (Photo: NRC)

In a May 15 piece, the editorial board of The Denver Gazette has weighed in on Colorado’s continuing controversy regarding how the state gets its electricity. While the current discourse in the state primarily pits fossil fuels against wind and solar, the board asks, “How about an energy source that generates almost limitless power, leaves no carbon footprint, and produces practically no emissions? It’s nuclear power—as green as you can get.”

NNSA launches infrastructure initiative to adapt to climate change

May 18, 2022, 7:01AMNuclear News
The NNSA's ERICA initiative aims to provide resources to develop resiliency against climate-related obstacles like the 2021 shuttering of the Pantex Plant due to the polar vortex. (Image: NNSA)

The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration is establishing an Energy Resilient Infrastructure and Climate Adaptation (ERICA) initiative, which will help position it to deal with climate issues. In a recent press release, the NNSA noted that ERICA will help it to meet the requirements of federal legislature and executive orders, along with the DOE’s climate adaptation, energy resilience, and sustainability goals in support of the agency’s national security missions.

The initiative was outlined in President Biden’s fiscal year 2023 budget request for the DOE.

Deadline extended to apply for ANS's 2023 ANS Congressional Fellowship

May 17, 2022, 3:00PMANS News

The deadline for applications to the ANS's Glenn T. Seaborg Congressional Science and Engineering Fellowship has been extended. All ANS members are invited to apply to help the Society fulfill its strategic goal of informing nuclear public policy.

All applications and supporting documents are now due by 11:59 p.m. (EDT) on Monday, May 23.

DOE releases Final EIS for one-of-a-kind Versatile Test Reactor

May 17, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News
Conceptual site layout for the VTR, as shown in the Final EIS. (Image: DOE-NE)

The Versatile Test Reactor, a custom-designed sodium-cooled fast neutron spectrum test reactor, is one step closer to its goal of providing data to accelerate research, development, and demonstration of diverse advanced reactor designs. The Department of Energy released the Final Versatile Test Reactor Environmental Impact Statement (Final VTR EIS) on May 13, and 30 days after its anticipated May 20 publication in the Federal Register, the DOE will issue a Record of Decision on the project.

What are the key cost drivers for microreactors?

May 17, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

Microreactors upend the traditional economics of nuclear power plants by shifting the paradigm from economies of scale (large reactors) to economies of multiple (mass production). While shrinking power output per unit may increase costs per kilowatt compared to large plants, offsetting gains can be expected from simplified and standardized designs, factory fabrication, inherent safety, lower radionuclide inventories, fast installation, and low financing costs. For instance, the lower power density in a microreactor core leads to a greatly reduced decay heat source, simplifying emergency cooling needs. These design aspects can lead to innovations including substantial simplifications to safety and control needs, minimized human operational requirements, a very compact balance of plant, the ability to fabricate almost every component in a factory, shortened construction time, and less daunting financing.

Bloomberg Law describes nuclear's efforts to attract ESG-based investment

May 17, 2022, 7:01AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The nuclear industry and its supporters want to ensure that current and future reactors are weighed by climate-conscious investors as a net benefit, according to a recent story, Nuclear Power’s Climate Credentials, Footprint Spark ESG Debate, by reporter Daniel Moore in Bloomberg Law. The interest comes as investors are increasingly sensitive to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues. Nuclear’s benefits must be included “in the array of ESG frameworks sprouting up to define the scope of any energy project’s climate impact,” writes Moore.