Fusion energy radwaste management considerations

December 2, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear NewsLaila El-Guebaly

The question of what to do with the radioactive waste has been raised frequently for both fission and fusion. In the 1970s, fusion adopted the land-based disposal option, primarily based on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s decision to regulate all radioactive wastes as only a disposal issue, following the fission guidelines. In the early 2000s, members of the Advanced Research Innovation and Evaluation Study (ARIES) national team became increasingly aware of the high amount of mildly radioactive materials that 1-GWe fusion power plants will generate, compared with the current line of fission reactors. The main concern is that such a sizable inventory of mostly tritiated radioactive materials would tend to rapidly fill U.S. repositories—a serious issue that was overlooked in early fusion studies1 that could influence the public acceptability of fusion energy and will certainly become more significant in the immediate future if left unaddressed, as fusion moves toward commercialization.

WIPP begins placing TRU waste in Panel 8

December 2, 2022, 12:00PMRadwaste Solutions
Workers walk down a passageway in Panel 8 at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in November. (Photo: DOE)

Employees have begun emplacing defense-related transuranic (TRU) waste in Panel 8 of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico, the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) announced in November. TRU waste is permanently disposed of at WIPP in rooms mined in a Permian salt bed 2,150 feet below the surface.

Got Fuel? Prospective HALEU enrichers and buyers talk goals and timelines

December 2, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
From left: Christina Leggett (Booz Allen Hamilton), Morris Hassler (IB3 Global Solutions), Everett Redmond (Oklo), Andy Griffith (DOE-NE), Ben Jordan (Centrus), Stephen Long (GLE), and Magnus Mori (Urenco).

Whether commercial demand for high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) fuel ultimately falls at the high or low end of divergent forecasts, one thing is certain: the United States is not ready to meet demand, because it currently has no domestic HALEU enrichment capacity. But conversations happening now could help build the commercial HALEU enrichment infrastructure needed to support advanced reactor deployments. At the 2022 American Nuclear Society Winter Meeting, representatives from three potential HALEU enrichers, the government, and industry met to discuss their timelines and challenges during “Got Fuel? Progress Toward Establishing a Domestic US HALEU Supply,” a November 15 executive session cosponsored by the Nuclear Nonproliferation Policy Division and the Fuel Cycle and Waste Management Division.

Nuclear energy remains transformational, 80 years after Chicago Pile-1

December 2, 2022, 6:56AMNuclear NewsJared Sagoff
On December 2, 1942, a group of 49 scientists led by Enrico Fermi created the world’s first controlled, self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction underneath the University of Chicago’s Stagg Field football stadium. Some of those present went on to found Argonne National Laboratory. (Image: Argonne)

At a moment of global crisis, in a windowless squash court below the football stadium bleachers at the University of Chicago, a group of scientists changed the world forever.

On December 2, 1942, a team of researchers led by Enrico Fermi, an Italian refugee, successfully achieved the world’s first human-­created, self-­sustaining nuclear chain reaction. Racing to beat Nazi Germany to the creation of an atomic weapon, the team of researchers, working as part of the Manhattan Project, split uranium atoms contained within a large graphite pile—Chicago Pile-­1, the first nuclear reactor ever built.

Reverse Engineering/Obsolescence (with I&C focus)

December 1, 2022, 3:57PMSponsored ContentWestinghouse Parts Business
Westinghouse employee completing visual inspection of I&C part

Obsolescence and the ability to obtain qualified replacement and spare parts are primary concerns in the nuclear industry. In fact, approximately 35% of installed equipment is obsolete.

Westinghouse Parts Business (WPB) has over 50 years of experience replacing and upgrading systems for operating nuclear power plants with access to original design information as the original equipment manufacturer (OEM).

WPB provides innovative, cost-efficient solutions for Westinghouse and non-Westinghouse systems in order to increase reliability of I&C systems, including enhanced replacement components, repair and refurbishment services. Recently, WPB has supported numerous customers in obsolescence and Reverse Engineering (RE) services.

Modern surface assessment technologies address today’s inspection challenges in nuclear power plants

December 1, 2022, 3:57PMSponsored ContentCreaform USA Inc.

While nuclear power plants are some of the most highly regulated and safe worksites in the world, inspection challenges remain. According to estimates by industry experts, the over 400 reactors located across the globe are, on average, 30 years old, and getting older. Extending the nuclear fleet’s lifetime to 60 years or longer has become an imperative in many countries, with engineers and scientists looking for new methods and solutions to predict and maintain the structural integrity and reliability of on-site infrastructure. An unprecedented labor shortage, retiring inspection specialists, and legacy work methodologies are exacerbating the issues in conducting safety inspections efficiently, accurately, and cost-effectively.

Zaporizhzhia the focus of Grossi interview

December 1, 2022, 3:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe


The ongoing, tense situation surrounding the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine was the subject of a recent interview with International Atomic Energy Agency director general Rafael Mariano Grossi when he appeared on CBS's 60 Minutes program.

The Zaporizhzhia facility is in an area of Ukraine that became occupied by Russian forces in late February 2022. Though Ukrainian staff remain at the now mostly idle plant, artillery shells have repeatedly landed at and near the plant over the past several months, with Ukrainian officials—along with many Western media outlets—blaming Russia, while Russian officials and media blame Ukraine.

Action from the IAEA: Following months of negotiations with both sides, inspectors from the IAEA, led by Grossi, finally visited the site in late August and early September, and the agency has been monitoring the situation since then with an observation mission at the site. In the interview, which aired on November 20, Grossi did not attribute blame for the shelling to either side.

CP-1 at 80: The events of December 2, 1942

December 1, 2022, 12:01PMNuclear News

On the eve of the 80th anniversary of the first controlled nuclear chain reaction, Nuclear Newswire is back with the second of three prepared #ThrowbackThursday posts of CP-1 coverage from past issues of Nuclear News.

On November 17, we surveyed the events of 1942 leading up to the construction of Chicago Pile-1, an assemblage of graphite bricks and uranium “pseudospheres” used to achieve and control a self-sustaining fission reaction on December 2, 1942, inside a squash court at the University of Chicago’s Stagg Field.

Today we’ll pick up where we left off, as construction of CP-1 began on November 16, 1942.

Four recipients awarded ANS Presidential Citations

December 1, 2022, 9:35AMANS News

At this year’s Winter Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, American Nuclear Society President Steven Arndt honored four ANS members with Presidential Citations. The president of ANS has the privilege of presenting presidential citations to individuals who, in their opinion, have demonstrated outstanding effort in some manner for the benefit of ANS and/or the nuclear community.

The awards are “highlighted throughout our community as a personal outreach to our recipients to say, ‘well done,’” said Arndt.

Aecon-Wachs to help repurpose Savannah River’s MOX fuel facility

December 1, 2022, 6:53AMNuclear News

Aecon-Wachs, the U.S. division of Aecon Nuclear, has been tapped to support the Department of Energy’s goal of repurposing the unfinished Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility at the Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina. Known as Building 226-F, the facility is being transitioned into the Savannah River Plutonium Processing Facility (SRPPF) to produce plutonium pits for the nation’s stockpile of nuclear weapons.

Russia expands its nuclear-powered icebreaker fleet in Arctic

November 30, 2022, 3:02PMANS Nuclear Cafe
The Yakutia awaits launch at St. Petersburg’s Baltic Shipyard on Nov. 22. (Photo: TASS/Valentin Yegorshin)

Advancing its efforts to develop the Arctic and establish new energy markets, Russia launched a new nuclear-powered icebreaker, the Yakutia, in St. Petersburg during a November 22 ceremony. At the launching in the northern Russian port city, the Russian flag was raised on another nuclear icebreaker, the Ural. Overseeing the events via video link from the Kremlin, Russian president Vladimir Putin said that the icebreakers “were laid down as part of a large serial project and are part of our large-scale, systematic work to reequip and replenish the domestic icebreaker fleet, to strengthen Russia's status as a great Arctic power.”

Fortum, Helen Oy to investigate SMR potential

November 30, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News

Finnish energy companies Fortum and Helen Oy are initiating a study to explore collaboration on nuclear power projects, with particular emphasis on small modular reactors, the firms jointly announced last week, adding the caveat that “any future decisions on cooperation and investments will be made at a later stage.”

The male business of nuclear diplomacy

November 30, 2022, 9:30AMANS Nuclear CafeMaria Rentetzi

Maria Rentetzi

An unusual event during the recent General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency distracted the delegations of member states and the press from the Russian war in Ukraine and the fear of the next nuclear disaster. It was a small exhibition, Building the IAEA Headquarters and its Laboratories, at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna, which brought to life the history of the agency’s laboratories through photographs, original letters and documents, explanatory texts, and timetables.

I was invited to participate in a related panel discussion that shed light on the early days of the “world’s first full-fledged laboratory of a truly international character” (in the words of an article about Seibersdorf Laboratory that ran in the January 1962 edition of the IAEA Bulletin) and its role in science diplomacy. There, I spoke of something that had struck me: Women were totally missing from the agency during this early period—making nuclear diplomacy an exclusively male business. To a large extent (as, for example, the recent IAEA missions to Ukraine show) nuclear continues to be a gendered endeavor.

Fortune article summarizes nuclear fusion developments

November 30, 2022, 7:01AMANS Nuclear Cafe
The JET tokamak. (Photo: European Consortium for the Development)

Nuclear fusion “might actually be on the cusp of commercial viability” today, says a recent article in Fortune magazine. The article offers a brief review of recent technical and entrepreneurial developments in fusion energy. It also places these developments in perspective regarding the hurdles that remain before commercialization can be realized.

U.S. to assist Thailand, Philippines with nuclear energy plans

November 29, 2022, 3:10PMNuclear News
Philippine president Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and Vice President Harris meet in Manila on November 21. (Photo: Office of the Press Secretary, Republic of the Philippines)

During a recent weeklong trip to Southeast Asia aimed at bolstering U.S. economic and security ties in the region, Vice President Kamala Harris announced the launch of nuclear energy partnerships with Thailand and the Philippines.

Currently, neither country enjoys the benefits of nuclear power. Both rely primarily on some mix of petroleum, natural gas, and coal for their energy needs.

OMEGA laser reveals findings on radiation-plasma interactions

November 29, 2022, 12:03PMANS Nuclear Cafe
Diagram of the University of Rochester Laboratory for Laser Energetics’ OMEGA laser system. (Image: University of Rochester)

A study recently published in Nature Communications brings a new perspective on how radiation travels through dense plasmas, potentially leading to a better understanding of the evolution of stars and the development of controlled nuclear fusion reactions. Researchers led by investigators at the University of Rochester Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) achieved their findings by conducting experiments with LLE’s OMEGA laser system. This extensive system, which is 19 meters tall and 70 meters long, consists of 60 laser beams that can focus as much as 30,000 joules of energy onto a target for the study of nuclear and fluid dynamic events.


How has digital technology changed environmental remediation?

November 29, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

Jesus Zamora

Regardless of the specific field you work in or how your daily tasks are performed, digital technology does not go unnoticed, and the environmental remediation field is no exception. Digital technology can be defined as electronic tools, services, or devices that create, store, transmit, and manage data. As technology evolves, so do the ways in which it can be incorporated into remediation activities.

Adequate incorporation of these technologies can greatly improve both workflow and productivity while enhancing the quality and maintaining the integrity of data. My team and I have been able to connect radiological instruments to computers wirelessly, collect millions of radiological measurements, track the approximate location of these measurements, save measurements automatically in a database, and access them at will.

Lecture on nuclear energy’s role in climate-related innovation coming up

November 29, 2022, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe


As part of the Purdue University–Duke Energy Understanding Tomorrow’s Nuclear Energy Lecture Series, Richard K. Lester of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will give a speech on Wednesday, November 30, from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. EST. Lester, associate provost and a professor of nuclear science and engineering at MIT, was previously head of the university’s Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering. The event will also feature a panel discussion with Lester, Lefteri H. Tsoukalas, and Morgan Smith.

Register now: The lecture, “Tough Tech for Climate: Innovation Challenges, University Responsibilities, and Some Comments on the Nuclear Role,” can be attended in person at Eliza Fowler Hall, in the Stewart Center of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. The talk will also be available to watch on YouTube, where it will be live streamed. Advance registration is required. Following registration, individuals will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Art exhibit visits IIT

November 28, 2022, 3:00PMANS News
A room full of displays at the Art of the Reactor exhibit. (Photo: IIT)

Nuclear power plant cooling towers are easily recognizable for their familiar hyperboloid shape. But an art exhibit running at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago aims to give visitors a different perspective.

The Art of the Reactor, an exhibit by the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History and hosted by IIT’s Lewis College of Science and Letters, opened on November 4 and runs until Sunday, December 4 at Hermann Hall on the IIT campus.

Westinghouse, Fortum strike fuel deal for Loviisa

November 28, 2022, 12:01PMNuclear News
Tarik Choho, Westinghouse nuclear fuel president (left, foreground), and Simon-Erik Ollus, executive vice president of Fortum Generation, shake hands after signing the VVER-440 fuel contract, surrounded by Fortum and Westinghouse team members. (Photo: Westinghouse)

Westinghouse Electric Company and Finnish energy company Fortum have jointly announced the signing of a long-term partnership to develop, license, and supply VVER-440 fuel to Finland’s two-unit Loviisa nuclear power plant.