ANS Nuclear Cafe

The ANS Nuclear Cafe is a blog owned and edited by the American Nuclear Society. Information contained on the ANS Nuclear Cafe has been provided by numerous sources. Therefore, the American Nuclear Society assumes no responsibility or liability for the accuracy of information contained herein. DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in posted articles do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Nuclear Society. The views expressed here are those of the individual authors. ANS takes no ownership of their views. The American Nuclear Society assumes no responsibility or liability for any use or operation of any methods, products, instructions, or ideas contained on this site.

Study: Microreactors show potential but face challenges

July 28, 2021, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe

A recently released technical report from Idaho National Laboratory finds “significant potential” for deploying microreactors on a global scale, but also “significant challenges in achieving the technical capacities, meeting regulatory requirements and international accords, achieving competitive costs, and for gaining public acceptance.”

In the 147-page report, Global Market Analysis of Microreactors, authors David Shropshire from INL, Geoffrey Black from Boise State University, and Kathleen Araújo from the CAES Energy Policy Institute at Boise State assess the unique capabilities of microreactors and their potential deployment in specific global markets in the 2030-2050 timeframe.

New video stars nuclear: “The safest energy source known to man”

July 27, 2021, 3:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe
This still image from “The Green Atom” highlights how Germany’s decision to shut down its nuclear plants has resulted in electricity that is twice as expensive as in neighboring France. (Source: Kite and Key)

“You know what power source is more dangerous than nuclear? Literally, all of them. When you add up industrial accidents and the effects of pollution, nuclear is safer than coal or petroleum or natural gas.”

Report: Extreme weather is affecting nuclear power’s reliability

July 27, 2021, 7:10AMANS Nuclear Cafe

A new analysis shows that hurricanes and typhoons have become the leading causes of nuclear plant outages, at least in North America and South and East Asia, tech website Ars Technica reports in the article “Nuclear power’s reliability is dropping as extreme weather increases.” The analysis was written by Ali Ahmad, an energy policy and economics scholar at the Harvard Kennedy School, and was published in the July issue of the online journal Nature Energy.

Nuclear advocacy group presses for legislative action in Illinois

July 26, 2021, 3:01PMANS Nuclear Cafe


Writing in today’s suburban Chicago Daily Herald, Madison Czerwinski, executive director of Campaign for a Green Nuclear Deal, warns of the damage to Illinois’s clean energy aspirations should the state’s policymakers fail to agree in time on legislation providing some form of aid to Exelon’s imperiled Byron and Dresden nuclear plants, both of which are slated for closure later this year. (And “in time” in this case means the next few weeks.)

Czerwinski notes in a guest column that despite the executive order signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker in January 2019 committing Illinois to reducing greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the Paris climate agreement, electricity emissions in the state are up from last year by 36 percent—a number that will only grow in the event an acceptable bill is not forthcoming.

Group pans Spain’s call to exclude nuclear from EU taxonomy

July 22, 2021, 3:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe
Iberdrola’s Cofrentes plant, in Valencia. All of Spain’s reactors are to be retired by 2035. (Photo: Foro Nuclear)

Foro Nuclear, a Madrid-based association representing the interests of Spain’s nuclear sector, is not at all happy with its government’s involvement in a letter sent late last month to the European Commission calling for the exclusion of nuclear energy from the European Union taxonomy. (The taxonomy is a classification system establishing a list of environmentally sustainable economic activities for the EU.) Signing the letter were Spain’s minister for ecological transition and minister for the economy, as well as ministers from Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Luxembourg.

China moves closer to completion of world’s first thorium reactor

July 22, 2021, 6:58AMANS Nuclear Cafe
China’s molten salt loop experiment. (Photo: Thorium Energy World)

China is moving ahead with the development of an experimental reactor that would be the first of its kind in the world and “could prove key to the pursuit of clean and safe nuclear power,” according to an article in New Atlas.

Cultivating leadership behaviors in a post-pandemic energy sector

July 21, 2021, 12:01PMANS Nuclear CafeEdward Halpin and Michael J. Reidy

The nuclear community has been one of the safest and lowest-risk industries in the world, allowing it to compete in a crowded energy sector without compromise. This defining ethos is predicated on strong, emotionally safe cultures that have enabled the nuclear power sector to honestly and transparently learn from notable mistakes, such as the design flaws that led to the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi accident, resulting in a safer, more competitive industry.

Building nuclear plants faster and in a more affordable way

July 19, 2021, 3:02PMANS Nuclear Cafe


There is a lot of buzz around advanced reactors, and for good reason, according to Ashley Finan, director of the Department of Energy’s National Reactor Innovation Center (NRIC). In the article 3 Ways to Make Nuclear Power Plants Faster and More Affordable to Build, published earlier this month on the DOE’s website, Finan noted that advanced reactors promise to be cheaper to build and operate, offer enhanced versatility, and can help put the United States on a path to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

The key cost driver will be construction and project management, “areas that have plagued the industry for decades,” Finan noted.

“For advanced nuclear energy to realize its potential, we have to make it more affordable and scalable. Only then can it meaningfully contribute to our energy, security, and environmental imperatives,” she added.

Researchers share their cutting-edge work in AI for national security

July 15, 2021, 12:06PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Within the National Nuclear Security Administration, the Office of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Research and Development (DNN R&D) is leading efforts to drive advances in artificial intelligence and accelerate the adoption of AI-enabled technologies to solve nuclear nonproliferation and national security challenges.

The goal is to incorporate AI into advanced techniques for detecting nuclear weapons and materials. According to the NNSA, these detection capabilities support the nuclear nonproliferation and arms control goals of the United States, while also driving the development of new capabilities.

Nuclear Matters asks for half a minute of your time

July 14, 2021, 3:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Advocacy group Nuclear Matters is urging members of the nuclear community to send a pre-drafted letter to their representatives on Capitol Hill in support of companion bills H.R. 4024 and S. 2291, the Zero-Emission Nuclear Power Production Credit Act of 2021. The legislation calls for amending the Internal Revenue Code to establish a tax credit to help existing merchant nuclear plants continue operations.

Scientists use isotopic analysis to ID fraudulent truffles

July 13, 2021, 12:01PMANS Nuclear Cafe
Tuber magnatum, or European white truffles, may be the most expensive food on earth per kilogram. (Photo: Evan Sung)

Scientists from the Jozef Stefan Institute in Slovenia, with technical advice and analytical support from the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, are studying the composition of truffles—a rare and expensive type of mushroom—in order to determine their origin and help detect fraud. Thanks to a database and the techniques developed, other laboratories worldwide can also test truffles, establish their geographical origin, and verify whether they are genuine.

CBS’s 60 Minutes gets robot’s-eye view of Fukushima Daiichi

July 13, 2021, 6:59AMANS Nuclear Cafe
A look at Fukushima Daiichi today. (Photo: The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)

News programmers’ hunger for stories about the aftermath of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that caused three reactor meltdowns at Fukushima Daiichi in March 2011 shows no signs of abating.

The 1958 Ford Nucleon: An idea that’s still ahead of its time

July 12, 2021, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe
The 1958 Ford Nucleon concept car. (Photo: The Drive )

A car capable of traveling 5,000 miles between fueling stops? Sounds impossible, right? It turns out that, yes, it was impossible. But that didn’t stop the Ford Motor Company in 1958 from envisioning a car—the Nucleon—powered by a small nuclear reactor. The Drive took a close look at the fantastical idea in a July 5 article, “Inside the Impossible Dream of the Nuclear-Powered 1958 Ford Nucleon.”

Nuclear power as the missing piece of the climate change solution

July 6, 2021, 7:08AMANS Nuclear Cafe
(Image: CNET)

Dietmar Detering, a German entrepreneur and cochair of the advocacy organization Nuclear New York, believes nuclear energy could be the key to solving the climate crisis. He's part of a wave of environmentalists campaigning for more nuclear energy, an idea explored by CNET in the July 1 article, Is nuclear power the missing piece of our climate change puzzle?

No deal yet in Illinois for Exelon nuclear plants

June 17, 2021, 12:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

The Illinois Senate adjourned on June 15 without calling a comprehensive energy regulatory reform package for a vote, Capitol News Illinois reported. State Sen. Bill Cunningham (D., Chicago) and Senate president Don Harmon (D., Oak Park) said afterward that they expect a vote to happen sometime this summer as negotiations continue.

Finnish nuclear plant and spent fuel repository become YouTube stars

June 9, 2021, 3:01PMANS Nuclear Cafe
A screen capture from the video "Finland Might Have Solved Nuclear Power’s Biggest Problem" on YouTube.

A new video, Finland Might Have Solved Nuclear Power’s Biggest Problem, debuted on YouTube this morning and has been seen already by a large number of viewers. The video takes a look at Finland’s efforts to lessen its reliance on foreign energy and meet its goal of carbon neutrality by 2035 with nuclear power, as well as to provide a solution to the problem of spent nuclear fuel.

Navy nuclear refueling barge to be dismantled

June 4, 2021, 7:01AMANS Nuclear Cafe
A U.S. Navy Surface Ship Support Barge (the large vessel in photo), which is used to refuel nuclear-powered ships and dismantle spent fuel units, will be scrapped in a three-year process. (Photo:

Towed from its home in Newport News, Va., the U.S. Navy’s Surface Ship Support Barge has arrived in Mobile, Ala., for decommissioning, Advance Local Alabama reported on June 1. The 268-foot-long barge operated from 1964 to 2016, supporting the Navy's nuclear vessel refueling and functioning like a spent fuel pool at a commercial nuclear power plant.