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.


Nuclear Innovation Alliance releases new reports on advanced nuclear technology

October 14, 2021, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The Nuclear Innovation Alliance (NIA) has followed up its report, Advanced Nuclear Technology: A Primer, published last month, with the release of two new reports on the subject—one for policymakers, the other for investors.

For policymakers: According to the NIA, Advanced Nuclear Reactors for State Policymakers, in Brief provides an overview of enabling federal policies and looks at state options to incentivize local development of advanced reactors. In addition, the report features a series of “topical briefs” on the characteristics of advanced reactors with respect to safety, economic benefits, waste remediation, flexibility and dispatchability, and timing and development. The report also contains case studies of state-specific advanced nuclear projects such as the Natrium reactor demonstration project in Wyoming, Energy Northwest’s plans in Washington state, Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems’ consortium for the first light water small modular reactor, and the Nuclear Alternative Project in Puerto Rico.

Opining online, journalist urges regulatory flexibility for new reactors

October 13, 2021, 2:43PMANS Nuclear Cafe

In his article, “The nuclear policy America needs,” journalist Matthew Yglesias says upfront that he is not a “nuclear bro.” He is not a scientist or a nuclear engineer. But he is part of an open, online conversation about the energy policy decisions shaping our future. And in the article posted on newsletter platform Substack on October 12, Yglesias says that nuclear prospects should not be determined by a zero-sum competition between zero-carbon energy resources. Instead, he says, “What nuclear really needs is specific regulatory changes that would give advanced reactor designs a chance to prove themselves.”

Congress urged to include advanced nuclear in clean-energy tax credits

October 13, 2021, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The Breakthrough Institute, an environmental research center founded by Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus, last week sent a letter to congressional leaders arguing that advanced nuclear energy needs to be included in legislation proposing an expansion of federal tax credits for clean energy.

Radiation-mapping robots deployed at Chernobyl

October 13, 2021, 7:01AMANS Nuclear Cafe
Inside the New Safe Confinement covering the sarcophagus of Chernobyl’s Unit 4. (Photo: SSE Chornobyl NPP)

A team of scientists from the United Kingdom’s University of Bristol were given access to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine, advancing a project to train robots and artificial intelligence systems to measure radiation and create 3D maps.

A slideshow of the team’s visit to Chernobyl’s Unit 4 control room and New Safe Confinement structure, where they deployed radiation mapping and scanning sensors, including a LIDAR-equipped robot call Rooster, appears on Gizmodo.

ITER director general hails the promise of hydrogen—in fusion

October 12, 2021, 3:18PMANS Nuclear Cafe
This June 2021 photo of ITER vacuum vessel sector #6 includes two panels of thermal shielding ready to slide into place. (Photo: ITER/Courtesy of Chang Hyun Noh)

Following a week of heightened attention to all things hydrogen preceding Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day (October 8), Bernard Bigot, director general of the ITER Organization, published an op-ed on October 11 in The European Files, a magazine billed as an “effective work tool for European deciders.” Bigot’s article, “Hydrogen fusion: The way to a new energy future,” doubled as a fusion primer, promoting the technology as a future source of clean energy that is fueled by hydrogen and is capable of providing heat and power to produce more hydrogen.

Avoiding failure, extending life of electrical bus ducts

October 12, 2021, 12:00PMANS Nuclear CafeMohsen Tarassoly
Three isophase bus ducts at a nuclear power plant exit the turbine building at the upper left, then branch off the main buses (center) to the reactor unit's auxiliary transformer on the right. (Photo: Ameren Missouri)

Over the course of the last year, many power plants have shortened, postponed, or rescheduled their maintenance outages due to the pandemic. Unfortunately, this has caused some critical maintenance activities to be put on the back burner. For some in the power generation industry, this has presented uncertainties as the volume of unplanned outages caused by deferred maintenance has risen.

Savannah River Remediation, Denmark Technical College renew MOU

October 11, 2021, 2:59PMANS Nuclear Cafe
Savannah River Remediation’s Mark Schmitz (left) and Denmark Technical College’s Willie L. Todd Jr. sign a memorandum of understanding to reaffirm the partnership between their respective organizations. (Photo: SRR)

Savannah River Remediation (SRR) and South Carolina’s Denmark Technical College (DTC) have renewed a memorandum of understanding that has a goal of preparing DTC students for work in the industrial and nuclear environment while also providing SRR with a potential pipeline of future employees.

SRR is the Savannah River Site’s liquid waste contractor, consisting of a team of companies led by Amentum, with partners Bechtel National, Jacobs, and BWX Technologies. Subcontractors include Orano, Atkins, and Amentum N&E Technical Services.

DTC is South Carolina’s only technical college that is also a historically black college or university.

Nuclear fusion: Are we getting close?

October 6, 2021, 12:01PMANS Nuclear Cafe
(University of Rochester illustration/Michael Osadciw)

The U.K. government has just published Towards Fusion Energy: The UK Government’s Fusion Strategy, which sets out the goal of the United Kingdom's moving from “a fusion science superpower to a fusion industry superpower,” with a prototype fusion power plant being built in the country by 2040.

While a slightly ambitious plan, there are now about 20 startup companies working to achieve a Wright brothers’ moment in fusion sooner than that. This includes Commonwealth Fusion Systems, which is aiming for a working fusion power plant by 2030 and is the subject of Rivka Galchen’s October 4 New Yorker article, “Can Nuclear Fusion Put the Brakes on Climate Change?”

Generation Atomic to Sierra Club: OK, boomer, time to rethink nuclear

October 1, 2021, 7:03AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Claiming 3.8 million members and supporters, the Sierra Club is one of the most influential grassroots environmental organizations in the United States. Yet, the Sierra Club says it remains “unequivocally opposed to nuclear energy,” despite the technology’s incredible ability to provide clean, safe, and reliable energy.

Australia has invested in batteries for grid security. It’s not going as planned.

September 29, 2021, 1:07PMANS Nuclear Cafe
Two battery Megapacks were destroyed in a July fire at Victorian Big Battery. Each battery is about the size of a standard shipping container. (Photo: Country Fire Authority)

Australia’s two large lithium-ion storage batteries are getting attention for all the wrong reasons. Hornsdale Power Reserve, a 150-MW battery collocated with a wind farm in South Australia, is being charged in federal court with failing to deliver on promises to respond to grid demands, and of being technically unable to deliver under the terms it was being paid to meet. Proceedings were filed September 22, just before the testing of a second Tesla-manufactured “Big Battery resumed after a two-month delay following a fire in July.

Keep nuclear generation at current levels, says Pennsylvania climate plan

September 29, 2021, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The 2021 Pennsylvania Climate Action Plan recommends 18 “strategies” for realizing Gov. Tom Wolf’s goal of an 80 percent reduction in the state’s greenhouse gas emissions (from 2005 levels) by 2050. Two of the strategies are for the electricity-generation sector: (1) maintain operation at Pennsylvania’s nuclear power plants through at least 2050, and (2) achieve a 100 percent carbon-free grid by 2050.

In addition to focusing on electric power generation, the plan includes strategies for other major carbon-emitting sectors in the fossil fuel–heavy state, including transportation, industry, agriculture, and residential and commercial buildings. For each strategy, emission reductions, costs, and benefits in jobs and economic growth are quantified and health and social benefits analyzed.

Kairos Power to hold virtual information session

September 24, 2021, 9:34AMANS Nuclear Cafe
An aerial view of the ETTP site. Photo: Heritage Center, LLC

Back in July, officials from the state of Tennessee and Kairos Power met in Nashville to celebrate Kairos’s plans to construct a low-power demonstration reactor in the East Tennessee Technology Park in Oak Ridge, Tenn. The demonstration facility is a scaled-down version of Kairos’s Fluoride Salt–Cooled High Temperature Reactor (KP-FHR), dubbed Hermes. The company first announced plans in December 2020 to redevelop the ETTP’s former K-33 gaseous diffusion plant site for construction of Hermes.

Eleven countries newly elected to IAEA board

September 23, 2021, 3:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Eleven countries have been newly elected to serve on the 35-member board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency for the period 2021–2022. The election took place on September 23 during the plenary session of the 65th IAEA General Conference, in Vienna, Austria. The conference started on September 20 and will run through September 24.

Germany: Coal tops wind energy in 2021, but there’s more to the story

September 23, 2021, 7:02AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Coal-fired plants fed the most power to Germany's electricity grid in the first half of 2021, while wind power dropped to its lowest level since 2018. As a September 13 article published on the German news site DW.com explained, the situation was blamed in part on a wind energy shortfall that is causing power price spikes across Europe.

Energy markets strained by price spikes make the case for nuclear

September 16, 2021, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Energy prices surged across Europe recently as markets were stricken by reduced output from wind turbines. Low supplies of natural gas had already boosted the cost of the gas–powered generation required to make up for dips in renewable energy sources. The result: a series of dire headlines, soaring prices for natural gas, and the startup of idled coal power plants.

Woke nuclear?

September 15, 2021, 3:00PMANS Nuclear CafeMaureen T. Koetz

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.

After decades of relinquishing its value and return on investment as “emission-free” electricity generation, segments of the nuclear industry are pursuing actions in several states to secure emission credits for avoiding greenhouse gas emissions. To harmonize electricity market stability and greenhouse gas emission reduction goals, states such as New York and New Jersey have enacted programs to award zero emission credits (ZECs) to nuclear plants for their emission-free output.

Dearly earned and too long forgone, air emission credits have been the economic birthright of the nuclear industry since the passage of the 1990 Clean Air Act (CAA) amendments, when emission control capability first became a tradable commodity. Yet it took until 2016 for ratepayers and shareholders to receive even a small fraction of this valuable return on investment.

Leaders of advanced nuclear in Canada interviewed in new video

September 14, 2021, 12:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Nuclear Energy TV has teamed with the U.S. Nuclear Industry Council (USNIC) to launch the third program in its “Advanced Nuclear Energy Spotlight” series. According to its website, Nuclear TV is a “community-based Internet TV channel for live and on-demand nuclear energy industry video programming."

Heralding a fusion breakthrough and “a new era” for energy

September 13, 2021, 3:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Paul Dabbar, former undersecretary for science at the Department of Energy and distinguished visiting fellow at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy, is lauding the recent successful test of a 10-ton high-temperature superconducting magnet performed by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Commonwealth Fusion Systems. In an op-ed published on September 10 in The Hill, Dabbar calls for a new level of investment and support for the commercial fusion sector.

Opposition to VTR is “dogmatism” we can’t afford, says Breakthrough Institute

September 10, 2021, 7:01AMANS Nuclear Cafe
A rendition of the VTR. (Graphic: DOE)

In an op-ed published online yesterday in The Hill, Ted Nordhaus and Adam Stein of the Breakthrough Institute pick apart arguments made against funding for the construction of the Versatile Test Reactor at Idaho National Laboratory. Nordhaus and Stein contend that opposition to the VTR has been led by “entrenched opponents of nuclear energy” who “fear that innovation of the sort that many U.S. nuclear startups are presently betting on might give the technology a second life.”