Feature Article

Understanding the ITER Project in the context of global Progress on Fusion

(photo: ITER Project gangway assembly)

The promise of hydrogen fusion as a safe, environmentally friendly, and virtually unlimited source of energy has motivated scientists and engineers for decades. For the general public, the pace of fusion research and development may at times appear to be slow. But for those on the inside, who understand both the technological challenges involved and the transformative impact that fusion can bring to human society in terms of the security of the long-term world energy supply, the extended investment is well worth it.

Failure is not an option.

To continue reading, log in or create a free account!
feature Article

Fusion and the bounty of electricity

From the time we discovered how the sun produces energy, we have been captivated by the prospect of powering our society using the same principles of nuclear fusion. Fusion energy promises the bounty of electricity we need to live our lives without the pollution inherent in fossil fuels, such as oil, gas, and coal. In addition, fusion energy is free from the stigma that has long plagued nuclear power about the storage and handling of long-lived radioactive waste products, a stigma from which fission power is only just starting to recover in green energy circles.

To continue reading, log in or create a free account!
President's Column

The new normal?

Mary Lou Dunzik-Gougar

Happy New Year! I sincerely hope that each of you found time to refresh and rejuvenate over the holidays, or at least have fun. Many indicators suggest that 2021 will be a better year than 2020, including a growing understanding of COVID-19 and its impacts and the availability of a vaccine. So many have suffered from job loss or even loss of businesses in 2020. Even for those of us fortunate enough to be healthy, gainfully employed, and able to work from anywhere thanks to Zoom and its competitors, uncertainty is still a challenging aspect of the pandemic.

To continue reading, log in or create a free account!
Feature Article

The Belgian Nuclear Society’s 50-Year anniversary

In 1970, a bit more than 50 years ago, then–ANS President Nunzio Palladino gave an evening lecture in Brussels to the newly formed Belgian local section of the American Nuclear Society. It was the seed for what would become the Belgian Nuclear Society, but the story starts even earlier than that.

To continue reading, log in or create a free account!
Feature Article

Award Winners: Fostering innovation in student research

The Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy created the Innovations in Fuel Cycle Research Awards program for university students in 2010. Now known as the Innovations in Nuclear Technology R&D Awards, the program aims to engage faculty and students in innovation and innovative thinking, increase experiential activities related to nuclear technology, and prepare students to engage in nuclear policy discussions.


To continue reading, log in or create a free account!

Nuclear engineering programs: Building the new nuclear workforce

In order to deliver the next generation of nuclear power plants, the nuclear community needs to overcome a number of challenges identified in 2017 as part of the ANS Nuclear Grand Challenges presidential initiative. Knowledge transfer is one of the nine challenges identified. The goal of the challenge is to “expedite updates to the higher education Nuclear Engineering curriculum to better match today’s needs.”

The Nuclear Grand Challenges report noted that “effective means to transfer that knowledge to the newest group of scientists and engineers needs to be developed and implemented. With the advent of new reactor designs and the challenges within materials science to meet the needs of these new designs, the curriculum structure must be reviewed and updated to better meet the needs of industry, suppliers, and research organizations.”

Nuclear engineering programs at universities around the country are integral to training and developing the workforce to implement the next generation of nuclear energy. Nuclear News reached out to several such nuclear engineering departments, asking them to provide our readers with an update on how their unique programs are helping meet this important challenge.

To continue reading, log in or create a free account!
Feature Article

Nuclear News Asks: Who Inspired You?

This article presents responses from various community members about those who inspired them—or the events or things that inspired them—to go on to have careers in nuclear.

There is an interesting mix of inspirators here, the most prominent being teachers who had lasting effects on their students. There are others who offered inspiration, too, including parents and other family members.

What all the respondents have in common is their inherent drive and love of science and technology to keep nuclear moving forward.

We would like to hear your story. Write in to let us know about it and we will share it within the pages of Nuclear News.

To continue reading, log in or create a free account!
Feature Article

NEDHO: A nuclear education alliance

The Nuclear Engineering Department Heads Organization (NEDHO) is an alliance of the heads (chairs) of about 30 nuclear engineering schools, departments, and programs in the United States. NEDHO is managed by an executive committee consisting of the chair, the chair-elect, and the three most immediate past-chairs. NEDHO meetings are normally held in conjunction with the American Nuclear Society’s national meetings. The NEDHO meetings are open to anyone, but on matters that require a vote, each institution is limited to a single official representative (i.e., one vote).

To continue reading, log in or create a free account!

Idaho National Laboratory: Breaking new ground with the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program

A renewed U.S. interest in advanced nuclear technology is making headlines around the world. Growing energy needs and an increased desire to limit carbon emissions are driving a flurry of activity among education institutions, national laboratories, and private companies. New nuclear technologies are rapidly maturing toward commercialization with the aim of deploying a new generation of advanced reactors. These advanced nuclear energy systems have the potential to provide cost-effective, carbon-free energy; create new jobs; and expand nuclear energy’s outputs beyond electricity generation alone.

“DOE and U.S. industry are extremely well-equipped to develop and demonstrate nuclear reactors with the requisite sense of urgency, which is important not only to our economy, but to our environment, because nuclear energy is clean energy,” Rita Baranwal, assistant secretary for Nuclear Energy, recently noted in a Department of Energy news release.

The DOE anticipates significant global demand for advanced reactors, and with support from Congress, intends to invest $3.2 billion over the next seven years in the new Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP). The initial funding opportunity was announced in May 2020. The call specified the need for reactor technologies that improve on the safety, security, economics and/or environmental impact of currently operating reactor designs. The goal of the program is to maintain the nation’s leadership in the global nuclear energy industry through the successful research, design, and deployment of advanced reactors in the United States and international marketplaces.

The ARDP will provide funds for three phases of public-private technology development partnerships over the next decade and a half:

  1. Advanced Reactor Demonstrations: The initial $160 million funding allocation, announced in October 2020, will support two companies that can license, construct, and operate an advanced reactor design in the next five to seven years.
  2. Risk Reduction for Future Demonstration: The second phase of funding availability will support an additional two to five reactor designs that could be commercialized approximately five years after the Advanced Reactor Demonstrations. Awards are expected to be announced by the end of 2020.
  3. Advanced Reactor Concepts-20 (ARC-20): The third pathway to meet the advanced reactor demonstration goals will support up to two less mature reactor designs that will take a further five years to develop beyond the Risk Reduction phase.
Feature Article

From the ground up: Building a workforce for advanced nuclear

INL will need technical, innovative, and safety-minded construction personnel for the advanced nuclear projects ahead. Photo: INL

Around the world, researchers in the energy industry are engaging in the work of studying, testing, and developing carbon-free energy solutions. Throughout these circles, many scientists and engineers are embracing the possibilities of advanced nuclear technologies, including small modular reactors and microreactors. While these innovative technologies are poised to address some of the nation’s biggest concerns, they also present their own unique challenges, including the need for a large and talented workforce within the construction industry.

Fortunately, the state of Idaho and its key nuclear players are well-equipped for this challenge. In southeastern Idaho, home of Idaho National Laboratory, strong partnerships throughout the region have forged networks between the lab and the educational institutions, employers, trades, and unions that are working to establish this highly specialized nuclear talent pipeline.

To continue reading, log in or create a free account!

A day in the life of the nuclear community

The November issue of Nuclear News is focused on the individuals who make up our nuclear community.

We invited a small group of those individuals to tell us about their day-to-day work in some of the many occupations and applications of nuclear science and technology, and they responded generously. They were ready to tell us about the part they play, together with colleagues and team members, in supplying clean energy, advancing technology, protecting safety and health, and exploring fundamental science.

In these pages, we see a community that can celebrate both those workdays that record progress moving at a steady pace and the exceptional days when a goal is reached, a briefing is delivered, a contract goes through, a discovery is made, or an unforeseen challenge is overcome.

The Nuclear News staff hopes that you enjoy meeting these members of our community—or maybe get reacquainted with friends—through their words and photos.

To continue reading, log in or create a free account!
Feature Article

Robotics for Plant Maintenance: Now and in the Future

Diakont technicians prepare an NDE inspection robot for deployment into a diesel tank. Photos: Diakont

Robotics and remote systems have been used for supporting nuclear facilities since the dawn of the atomic age. Early commercial nuclear plants implemented varying levels of automation and remote operation, such as maintenance activities performed on the reactor pressure vessel and steam generators. Over the past several decades, there has been a steady progression toward incorporating more advanced remote operations into nuclear plants to improve their efficiency and safety. One of the primary forces driving the adoption of robotic tooling in U.S. nuclear power plants is money.

The economic model for the U.S. operating fleet has changed considerably over the past 10 to 12 years. Regulations in the nuclear industry have rarely decreased and, more often than not, have increased. This has led to nuclear plants in certain energy markets being hindered financially and thus needing to find ways to optimize their operations to do more with the resources they have. At the same time, the reliability and flexibility of robotics and automated systems have been increasing while their costs have been decreasing, making robotic systems much safer and more available to use. This has helped drive utilities to explore new ways of using robotics to overcome the obstacles they are facing. One of the obstacles that power plants have been tackling has been shortening the duration of their refueling outages to decrease their costs and increase their revenue.

To continue reading, log in or create a free account!
Feature Article

Dixon and Hafen: An update on robotics and plant maintenance

Joe Dixon

Hubert Hafen

Wälischmiller Engineering (HWM), of Markdorf, Germany, has joined forces with NuVision Engineering (NVE) to form NuVision-Wälischmiller under parent company Carr’s Engineering. The NVE-HWM team develops, demonstrates, and deploys engineered remote systems and robotics to meet the high safety standards, quality requirements, and challenging demands of the nuclear industry.

HWM specializes in remote-handling and robotic solutions for hazardous applications. Since 1946, HWM has been delivering a range of remote-handling solutions, including precision manipulators, tools, and controllers, to the nuclear industry.

NVE, founded in 1971, is headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pa., with major operational facilities in Charlotte, N.C. The company delivers engineered solutions and services to its customers in the nuclear markets of commercial power, research, isotope production, and government cleanup sectors. NuVision develops, demonstrates, and deploys technology-based solutions that help extend the life and safe operation of power plants, improve new plant designs, and remediate government-owned legacy waste sites.

Joe Dixon is the robotics director at NVE. For nearly 20 years, he has provided solutions for the global nuclear industry and has conceived, designed, fabricated, deployed, and managed teams for advanced robotics, isotope production, scientific research, decommissioning, energy production, process maintenance, and remote handling. Having worked on large projects around the world, Dixon is one of the industry’s leaders in remote-handling and robotics technologies.

Hubert Hafen is the chief technology officer for HWM. With more than 30 years of experience in the nuclear industry, Hafen has served as chief engineer and project manager for a large number of international remote-handling projects, such as remote-handling equipment for the decommissioning of the Greifswald nuclear power plant in Germany, the decommissioning of the reprocessing plant in Karlsruhe, Germany, planning for the remote equipment for the ITER project, and several remote-handling projects in Japan, Russia, China, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. His ability to present clients with problem solving has made him renowned in the robotics world.

Dixon and Hafen talked recently with Nuclear News editor-in-chief Rick Michal about what is new in robotics and remote-handling systems.

To continue reading, log in or create a free account!
Feature Article

Solving Sellafield’s 4 Ds problem

The U.K. National Nuclear Laboratory’s Colin Fairbairn (left) and Ben Smith (in pre-COVID days) work on the Box Encapsulation Plant (BEP) robots project at the NNL’s facility in Workington, Cumbria, U.K. Photos: UKNNL

Though robotics solutions have been used across many industries, for many purposes, Sellafield Ltd has begun to bring robotics to the U.K. nuclear industry to conduct tasks in extreme environments. The Sellafield site, in Cumbria, United Kingdom, contains historic waste storage silos and storage ponds, some of which started operations in the 1950s and contain some of the most hazardous intermediate--level waste in the United Kingdom. There is a pressing need to decommission these aging facilities as soon as possible, as some of them pose significant radiation risk.

To continue reading, log in or create a free account!

A life in nuclear reactor physics and design

You may have read the abbreviated version of this article in the November 2020 issue of Nuclear News. Now here's the full article—enjoy!

I have enjoyed a long and stimulating career in applied nuclear physics—specifically nuclear reactor physics, nuclear fusion plasma physics, and nuclear fission and fusion reactor design—which has enabled me to know and interact with many of the scientists and engineers who have brought the field of nuclear energy forward over the past half-century. In this time I have had the fortune to interact with and contribute (directly and indirectly) to the education of many of the people who will carry the field forward over the next half-century.

To continue reading, log in or create a free account!
Feature Article

Robotics at Palo Verde

The Zephyr system uses probes for steam generator inspections. Photos: APS

The Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station, a three-unit pressurized water reactor plant operated by Arizona Public Service Company, has started using an inspection technology relatively new to the nuclear industry. The technology, called smart pigs (an acronym for “piping inline gauges”), has previously been employed by oil and gas companies for inspecting and cleaning underground pipes. After testing and analyzing smart pig products from several companies, Palo Verde’s underground piping consultant, Dan Wittas, selected a smart pig suitable for navigating the tight-radius bends in the plant’s spray pond piping. The spray pond system consists of piping, a pump, and a reservoir where hot water (from the Palo Verde plant) is cooled before reuse by pumping it through spray nozzles into the cooler air. Smart pigs work by using the water’s flow through the piping to move an inspection tool within the pipe itself. The technology replaces the previous method of pipe inspection, in which various relatively small sections of piping were unearthed and directly inspected, and were considered to be representative examples of the overall piping condition. In contrast, the smart pigs obtain corrosion levels for the length of piping traveled through and allow a corrosion baseline to be established.

To continue reading, log in or create a free account!
Feature Article

ATRC Upgrade

Reactor operators Craig Winder (foreground) and Clint Weigel prepare to start up the ATRC Facility reactor at Idaho National Laboratory after a nearly two-year project to digitally upgrade many of the reactor’s key instrumentation and control systems. Photos: DOE/INL

At first glance, the Advanced Test Reactor Critical (ATRC) Facility has very little in common with a full-size 800- or 1,000-MW nuclear power reactor. The similarities are there, however, as are the lessons to be learned from efforts to modernize the instrumentation and control systems that make them valuable assets, far beyond what their designers had envisioned.

One of four research and test reactors at Idaho National Laboratory, the ATRC is a low-power critical facility that directly supports the operations of INL’s 250-MW Advanced Test Reactor (ATR). Located in the same building, the ATR and the ATRC share the canal used for storing fuel and experiment assemblies between operating cycles.

To continue reading, log in or create a free account!
Feature Article

Vision 2020

On March 9, the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) released its first strategic plan in several years. Titled “A Time of Transition and Transformation: EM Vision 2020-2030,” and called the Strategic Vision1, the document outlines the past accomplishments in cleaning up legacy nuclear waste and provides a broad overview of the initiatives that EM plans to put into motion over the next decade, “laying the groundwork for a long-term plan to realize meaningful impact on the environmental cleanup mission.”2

To continue reading, log in or create a free account!