Belgium’s nuclear phaseout begins

September 27, 2022, 3:03PMNuclear News
Belgium's Doel nuclear power plant. (Photo: N. Hippert/IAEA)

Unit 3 at the Doel nuclear power plant has become Belgium’s first reactor to be permanently shuttered, in keeping with that nation’s nuclear phaseout policy. The 1,006-MWe pressurized water reactor, which began commercial operation in October 1982, was removed from service last Friday at 9:31 p.m. (local time).

Belgium’s nuclear reactor fleet now consists of six operating units: Doel-1, -2, and -4 and Tihange-1, -2, and -3. Next on the retirement list is Tihange-2, scheduled to be shut down in February 2023.

DOE releases plan to guide cleanup mission, accelerate progress

September 27, 2022, 12:01PMRadwaste Solutions

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) released its EM Program Plan 2022, outlining a decision roadmap the cleanup program will use as a guide over the next two decades.

The new program plan, which was introduced by EM senior advisor William “Ike” White during the National Cleanup Workshop in Arlington, Va., on September 22, completes a trio of outward-facing planning documents, joining EM’s calendar year priorities list and its 10-year Strategic Vision.

Westinghouse partners with nearly two dozen firms in Poland

September 27, 2022, 9:39AMNuclear News
Photo: Westinghouse

Westinghouse Electric Company continues its aggressive campaign to become the large reactor supplier for Poland’s planned nuclear power facilities, recently signing memoranda of understanding with 22 firms in the Central European nation.

The American company, with its AP1000 design, is one of three suppliers vying to provide the units for the first Polish nuclear plant project, the other contenders being Électricité de France and Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power.

The MOUs were signed last week in the presence of U.S. ambassador to Poland Mark Brzezinski.

U.S. fusion pilot program ready to back designs from industry-led teams

September 27, 2022, 7:00AMNuclear News

The Department of Energy announced up to $50 million for a new milestone-based fusion energy development program on September 22. The funding opportunity announcement is open to for-profit companies—possibly teamed with national laboratories, universities, and others—that are prepared to meet major technical and commercialization milestones leading to a pilot fusion power plant design.

Survey: Strong overall support in U.S. for nuclear, but with concerns

September 26, 2022, 3:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Results of the American Climate Perspectives Survey 2022 conducted by the climate-focused organization ecoAmerica suggest that the overall national support for research into advanced nuclear energy and for nuclear energy in general are continuing five-year upward trends. However, according to the survey, fewer than half of women responding to the survey support nuclear power. In addition, public concerns about nuclear-related waste disposal, health and safety, and weaponization remain high.

Bids for SMR deployment in Estonia requested

September 26, 2022, 12:01PMNuclear News
The Estonian flag. (Image: WikiCommons)

Moving forward with its plan for small modular reactor deployment in Estonia, Fermi Energia has issued tenders to three SMR firms—GE Hitachi (GEH), NuScale Power, and Rolls-Royce, developers of the BWRX-300, NuScale Power Module, and Rolls-Royce SMR, respectively.

Saskatchewan IDs potential SMR sites

September 26, 2022, 9:29AMNuclear News
The Estevan region (Image: SaskPower)

As part of its planning and regulatory activities to potentially build small modular reactors (SMRs) in currently nuclear-powerless Saskatchewan, Canadian utility SaskPower has selected the province’s Estevan and Elbow regions for further study. (In 2018, SaskPower joined the Canadian government, three other provinces, and four other Canadian utilities to participate in the development of A Call to Action: A Canadian Roadmap for Small Modular Reactors.)

DOE incentivizes interim storage with $16 million funding opportunity

September 26, 2022, 6:57AMRadwaste Solutions

The Department of Energy has announced that it will make $16 million in funding available to communities interested in learning more about “consent-based siting, management of spent nuclear fuel, and interim storage facility siting considerations.” The funding opportunity follows the DOE’s recent update to its consent-based process for siting an interim storage facility for SNF.

Environmental Management: GAO Report Shows Mission Far From Complete

September 23, 2022, 3:01PMRadwaste SolutionsSarah Templeton
The Effluent Management Facility, part of the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant at the Hanford Site. (Photo: Bechtel National)

This spring, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released an insightful report reviewing and summarizing the status and performance of the largest projects and operations within the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM), which is responsible for the cleanup of hazardous and radioactive waste at sites and facilities that have been contaminated from decades of nuclear weapons production and nuclear energy research.

Miss Wisconsin: Breaking down misconceptions about nuclear

September 23, 2022, 12:05PMANS NewsGrace Stanke

Grace Stanke in front of the cooling towers at the Byron generating station during this spring’s outage.

"Miss Wisconsin" and "nuclear engineer" are two phrases you have probably never heard in the same sentence before. And not just Wisconsin—it’s never been heard in any state. As Miss Wisconsin 2022, I will be the first nuclear engineering student ever to compete for the title of Miss America, an iconic position for which thousands of women across the country strive (which pays six figures and has the potential of thousands of dollars in scholarship earnings).

Over the summer, in an attempt to help find another opportunity to offset the cost of the last year of my education, I competed for the title of Miss Wisconsin for the second time. I was lucky enough this time to be selected for the job after competing against 22 candidates in the interview, talent, social impact pitch, red carpet wear, and onstage question events.

As Miss Wisconsin, I will travel thousands of miles across the state to attend community events, visit schools, and lead speaking engagements related to the Miss America Organization, my social impact initiative, and my career in nuclear energy. My social impact initiative, “Clean Energy, Cleaner Future,” promotes America’s transition to zero-­carbon energy with an emphasis on nuclear power, because I believe it is the best path forward as our major power source.

UNECE: Road to net zero needs many lanes, including one for nuclear

September 23, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

Released this week in the lead-up to November’s COP27 event in Egypt is a report from the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, Carbon Neutrality in the UNECE Region: Technology Interplay under the Carbon Neutrality Concept, which calls for maximizing the use of all low- and zero-carbon technologies—including nuclear technology—to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Termed by the UNECE a “roadmap to carbon neutrality for Europe, North America, and Central Asia,” the 60-page report finds that to attain the net-zero goal, investment in energy as a percentage of gross domestic product needs to grow from 1.24 percent in 2020 to 2.05 percent every year from 2025 until 2050—translating to between $44.8 trillion and $47.3 trillion by 2050, with any additional delay in taking action adding to that price tag.

Fusion veteran Barabaschi selected as ITER director general

September 23, 2022, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Barabaschi

Capping a session in Paris, the ITER Council has unanimously selected Pietro Barabaschi as the new director-general of the ITER Organization. The Italian-born Barabaschi, who has been involved in nuclear fusion research for some 30 years, was chosen to lead the massive international fusion project following an intensive recruitment effort necessitated by the death of Bernard Bigot, the previous director general, in May. Since Bigot’s death, Eisuke Tada has been serving in the role in an interim capacity. Barabaschi will take office in October.

F4E leader: Barabaschi has been the head of the Broader Approach Programme and Delivery with Fusion for Energy (F4E) since 2008. F4E is the EU organization responsible for Europe’s contribution to ITER. In this position, he has been managing the department that oversees three projects stemming from the Broader Approach agreement between the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) and the government of Japan: the JT-60SA tokamak, the International Fusion Materials Irradiation Facility/Engineering Validation and Engineering Design Activities linear accelerator, and the International Fusion Energy Research Centre . Barabaschi has also been acting director of F4E.

Oklo reapproaches NRC with microreactor licensing plan

September 22, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News
Graphic rendition of the Aurora microreactor. (Image: Oklo Inc.)

Some eight months after the Nuclear Regulatory Commission denied Oklo Inc.’s license application to build and operate its Aurora microreactor in Idaho, the company has returned to the regulatory fray. On Wednesday, Oklo announced that it has submitted to the NRC a licensing project plan (LPP) outlining its proposed engagement to support future Aurora licensing activities.

No cold feet: ARPA-E wants to explore low-energy nuclear reactions

September 22, 2022, 12:01PMNuclear News

The Department of Energy announced September 13 that it would spend up to $10 million in a bid to settle the question of whether low-energy nuclear reactions (LENR)—historically known as “cold fusion”—could ever become a carbon-free energy source. The funding is part of an Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E) LENR Exploratory Topic designed to “encourage the submission of the most innovative and unconventional ideas in energy technology.”

ANS Grand Challenge: Expedite licensing

September 22, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear NewsNicholas R. Brown

As the largest ultra-low-carbon electricity source in the United States, nuclear energy is a vital pillar of the effort to mitigate climate change. Deployment of advanced nuclear reactor and fuel technologies has been identified as a unique challenge in the production of new nuclear power plants to help maintain and grow our nuclear generating capacity. The licensing of novel nuclear reactor technologies also continues to be a facet of the broader challenge of advanced reactor deployment. When it comes to non–light water reactors and Generation III+ light water reactors, such as the AP-1000 or EPR, deployment is “2X over budget and behind schedule.”1 However, in the case of recent large Generation III+ light water reactors, licensing has not been the rate-limiting step in the reactor deployment timeline, nor has it had a first-order impact on cost. With that said, several significant advances have been made in the expedition of licensing. This article focuses on three areas where progress has been made since this grand challenge was formulated in 2017, with highlights of some examples where the American Nuclear Society has guided or supported this progress.

Hydrogen production coming to Prairie Island

September 22, 2022, 6:55AMNuclear News
The Prairie Island nuclear power plant. (Photo: Xcel Energy)

Clean energy technology firm Bloom Energy has announced plans to install a 240-kW electrolyzer at Xcel Energy’s Prairie Island plant in Red Wing, Minn., to demonstrate the benefits of producing hydrogen with nuclear power. (One of Xcel’s two nuclear plants, Prairie Island houses twin 550-MWe pressurized water reactors.)

Holtec to provide spent fuel canisters to six Spanish reactors

September 21, 2022, 3:14PMRadwaste Solutions
Spain’s nuclear power plants are to use Holtec’s HI-STORM spent fuel storage technology. (Image: Holtec)

Holtec International announced that its flagship HI-STORM Multi-Purpose Canister (MPC) spent fuel storage technology was selected by Spain’s national company Enresa for a fleet of six nuclear power reactors at four plant sites in the country. Equipos Nucleares S.A. (ENSA), a Cantabria-based manufacturer of equipment for the Spanish nuclear fleet, was named a consortium partner with Holtec in the order, which was conducted under European Union procurement rules.

NRC chairman visits ANS student section at University of Puerto Rico

September 21, 2022, 12:00PMANS News
Highlights from Chairman Hanson’s visit with the ANS student section at UPRM. (Photos: NRC/Twitter)

The American Nuclear Society student section at the University of Puerto Rico—Mayagüez (UPRM) recently welcomed Christopher T. Hanson, chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. While at UPRM, Hanson met with graduate students conducting nuclear-related research, as well as with deans, professors, and other university officials. He also delivered a speech, “Preparing to Regulate the Nuclear Technology of the Future.”

Curtiss-Wright, X-energy team up to advance Xe-100 deployment

September 21, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

Curtiss-Wright Corporation and small modular reactor developer X-energy have announced the signing of a preferred strategic supplier agreement to advance the design and deployment of the latter’s Xe-100 SMR.

New method produces curium crystals for research in a radiochemistry first

September 21, 2022, 7:00AMNuclear News
A new compound of curium photographed at LLNL during crystallography experiments. Crystals of this curium compound are uncolored under ambient light but glow an intense pink-red when exposed to ultraviolet light. (Image: LLNL/Deblonde)

Scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Oregon State University (OSU) have developed a promising new method to isolate and study some of the rarest elements on Earth. Focused first on curium, they have identified three new complexes containing curium ions and revealed the molecules’ 3D structures, as well as previously unknown features.