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.

Savannah River establishes nonproliferation R&D center

April 18, 2022, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Savannah River National Laboratory has announced the establishment of the Nonproliferation Applied Sciences Center (NASC), to be located on the lab’s main campus at the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site in Aiken, S.C. Tammy Taylor, associate laboratory director for global security, will lead the development of the center until a permanent director is selected later this year.

Health Physics Society presents “The History of the Linear No-Threshold Model”

April 15, 2022, 7:25AMANS Nuclear Cafe


The Health Physics Society has created a 22-episode video series titled “The History of the Linear No-Threshold (LNT) Model.” The videos feature discussions with Edward J. Calabrese, a renowned toxicologist and a professor in the School of Public Health and Health Sciences at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

The video series begins with an introduction to Calabrese and his contributions to toxicology and radiation risk assessment. Episode 2 covers the origin of the LNT model as a way of explaining the mechanism of biological evolution. Episodes 3 through 5 explore the work of Hermann Muller, raising doubts about his claims regarding gene mutations and his linear dose response concept.

DOE offers $5 million in nuclear scholarships and fellowships

April 14, 2022, 7:02AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The Department of Energy is offering over $5 million in scholarships and fellowships for students pursuing degrees in nuclear science and engineering. The awards are provided through the Office of Nuclear Energy’s University Nuclear Leadership Program (UNLP) and include 61 undergraduate scholarships and 28 graduate fellowships for students at 32 colleges and universities in 23 states. The awards are to be finalized by July 31, 2022.

Georgia Tech to host Advanced Manufacturing for Nonproliferation summer school

April 12, 2022, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The Consortium for Enabling Technologies and Innovation (ETI), led by the Georgia Institute of Technology, is offering a summer school on advanced manufacturing for nonproliferation. It will be held from May 23 to May 27 on the Georgia Tech campus in Atlanta, and it will include presentations, lab demonstrations, and tours, including a visit to Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Four “clues” that Diablo Canyon will be replaced by Wyoming coal

April 8, 2022, 12:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe
The Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. (Photo: Doc Searls)

Officials in California are planning to replace the electricity produced by the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, scheduled to shut down in 2025, “mostly with Wyoming coal-fired generation.” That claim is made in a post on the Capitol Weekly website written by Gene Nelson, a cofounder of Californians for Green Nuclear Power (CGNP). Nelson writes that although state officials are trying to hide this plan from the public, CGNP uncovered it by detecting four obscure clues in California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) filings.

Podcast features CEO of SMR company

April 5, 2022, 3:12PMANS Nuclear Cafe


In a recent episode of Azeem Azhar’s Exponential View, Troels Schönfeldt, chief executive officer of Seaborg Technologies, discussed his company’s reactor technology and other nuclear-related issues. Seaborg Technologies, which was founded in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2014, is developing a compact molten salt reactor (CMSR) that it says is safe, significantly smaller, better for the environment, and inexpensive, even compared to fossil fuels, and can be manufactured quickly and deployed on barges to any location worldwide. The Exponential View is a podcast presented by the Harvard Business Review and hosted by Azhar, an entrepreneur and investor.

Different type of reactor: “We’re designing a fundamentally different type of nuclear reactor,” Schönfeldt said. “The powerful bullet points [are] that it cannot melt down or explode, it cannot release gases, it cannot be used for nuclear weapons. It could even burn nuclear waste, so we can get rid of some of the old waste stockpiles.”

SMR technology is “very promising” for the chemical industry, says Dow CEO

April 5, 2022, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe


Nuclear power from small modular reactors should be a central part of the chemical industry’s drive toward achieving carbon neutrality, according to Jim Fitterling, chairman and chief executive officer of Dow Inc. Fitterling’s comments, delivered at the 2022 International Petrochemical Conference, hosted by American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers and held March 27–29 in San Antonio, Texas, were reported by Independent Commodity Intelligence Services (ICIS).

Beyond renewables: The ICIS report noted that more than 25 percent of Dow’s manufacturing sites are fully or partially powered by renewable energy sources, including wind, solar, and hydropower. Nevertheless, Fitterling said, “We need a broader and more realistic approach to feed our energy needs. Renewables are great, and we’re a tremendous supporter . . . but renewables alone are not the answer.” He added that renewable power generation would have to increase 90 times to equal the energy that is currently provided by hydrocarbons in the United States.

News report on past Diablo Canyon shutdown prompts clarification by nuclear advocates

April 4, 2022, 12:01PMANS Nuclear Cafe
The Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, located near Avila Beach, Calif.

A recent article on a radio station website about an auxiliary feedwater (AFW) pump problem at the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant led to information exchanges between a reporter, the American Nuclear Society, and nuclear advocates. The incident also involved a tweet by a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Looking back at coverage of TMI

March 31, 2022, 3:30PMANS Nuclear Cafe

This week for the #ThrowbackThursday post, we are again turning to the April 1984 issue of Nuclear News, which was highlighted in February when we looked at the start of the federal program to convert research reactors from the use of high-enriched uranium to low-enriched uranium. This week, however, we are reviewing the coverage presented in that issue about the five-year anniversary of the Three Mile Island-2 accident.

Elon Musk: Shutting down nuclear plants is “total madness”

March 31, 2022, 12:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe


In a wide-ranging interview published by Business Insider on March 26, Elon Musk, chief executive officer of Tesla and SpaceX, repeatedly referred to efforts to shut down nuclear power plants as “crazy” and “madness.” Musk spoke with Mathias Döpfner, chief executive officer of Insider’s parent company, Axel Springer. Musk also discussed his views on the war in Ukraine, climate change, space travel, self-driving cars, humanoid robots, artificial intelligence, religion, and philanthropy.

Germany's mistakes: In discussing the Ukraine conflict and Western Europe’s dependence on Russian energy supplies, Döpfner referred to “strategic mistakes that Europe, particularly Germany, has made [such as] the dropout of nuclear energy in 2011.”

Musk responded, “It is very important that Germany will not shut down its nuclear power stations. I think this is extremely crazy.”

New report focuses on ESG frameworks and nuclear financial investments

March 31, 2022, 7:12AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The Nuclear Innovation Alliance released a report on March 25 titled “ESG Frameworks and Advanced Nuclear Energy,” discussing how environmental, social, and governance (ESG) frameworks affect advanced nuclear energy technologies. The report, as described in an NIA press release, “includes potential actions the nuclear industry and financial community should consider to promote consistent analytical treatment of nuclear energy within ESG frameworks and efficient access to capital for nuclear investments.”

Need for consistent frameworks: Judi Greenwald, the NIA executive director, explained the need for consistent ESG frameworks, noting that “[n]uclear energy technologies are particularly affected by the inconsistent treatment of some frameworks regarding the ESG attributes of energy technologies. . . . As frameworks are standardized and embedded in policy, if their flaws are not addressed, advanced nuclear energy could be left at a disadvantage in terms of access to capital.”

Wars are dangerous, reactors much less so

March 30, 2022, 11:55AMANS Nuclear CafeJacopo Buongiorno, Steven Nesbit, Malcolm Grimston, Lake Barrett, Matthew L. Wald, and Andrew Whittaker
The six reactors at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine.

On March 4, Russian forces set fire to an office building at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, raising fears about reactors being damaged. The attack stirred up memories of the Chernobyl accident in 1986, a reaction that longtime nuclear opponents are taking advantage of to rekindle their cause. However, the reactors operating in Ukraine today are profoundly different from the design used at Chernobyl, and are, by nature, difficult to damage.

Let’s set the record straight and explain the risks of nuclear power plants in war zones.

More big-tech billionaires backing next-gen nuclear startups

March 29, 2022, 9:29AMANS Nuclear Cafe
Data from research firm PitchBook show a spike in nuclear investment. (Graph: Bloomberg)

The trend of big-tech billionaires of Silicon Valley investing in next-generation nuclear energy startup companies continues. In a March 22 article on the Bloomberg website, Lizette Chapman, of the site’s venture capital group, writes that these investors view nuclear power as “a solution to both cutting carbon emissions and weaning the world off now-controversial Russian gas.”

Opinion: Governors must stop “superstitious opposition to nuclear energy” to achieve climate goals

March 28, 2022, 9:12AMANS Nuclear Cafe
The Palisades plant near Covert, Mich. (Photo: Entergy)

“Many states have made carbon dioxide–reduction plans with no hope of success. But if they want to meet even a portion of those goals, they must put nuclear power back on the table.” So opined Tim Cavanaugh, senior editor at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, in an essay published by The Hill on March 23.

Researchers studying seismo-acoustic data application for nuclear nonproliferation

March 28, 2022, 7:09AMANS Nuclear Cafe
Aerial view of the High Flux Isotope Reactor. (Photo: ORNL)

The nonproliferation-related monitoring of nuclear reactor operations received a boost from a new study focusing on the use of seismic and acoustic data for such purposes, ScienceDaily reported last week. The study, conducted by investigators at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, was published March 9 in the journal Seismological Research Letters.

Corrosion resistance found for two fusion reactor structural materials

March 25, 2022, 9:24AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Findings regarding the corrosion resistance of two promising structural materials for fusion reactors were recently reported by ScienceDaily. The research, published in the April 1 issue of Corrosion Science, was conducted by a team led by Masatoshi Kondo of the Tokyo Institute of Technology. The researchers describe details of the high-temperature compatibility of the two materials with the liquid breeding blanket (BB) surrounding the reactor core.

60 years of headlines from the Advanced Test Reactor

March 24, 2022, 3:01PMANS Nuclear Cafe
Cover of the April 1962 issue of Nuclear News (left), ATR core diagram appearing in October 1969 issue of Nuclear News (center), and cover of the October 1969 issue of Nuclear News (right).

The Department of Energy and Idaho National Laboratory announced this week that the sixth major core overhaul of the Advanced Test Reactor (ATR) is complete, after an 11-month outage that began in April 2021. The ATR was built as a key piece of mission support for U.S. Navy programs and first reached full power in 1969. Today it remains “the world’s largest, most powerful and flexible materials test reactor,” in the words of INL—quite a feat for a reactor that was planned over 60 years ago.

The Nuclear Communities Forum is coming soon

March 21, 2022, 12:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Smart Growth America—in partnership with the National Association of Development Organizations, the Center for Creative Land Recycling, and the Nuclear Decommissioning Collaborative—is hosting a webinar titled “Nuclear Communities Forum 2022” on Friday, April 1, from 11 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. (EDT).

Register now. The webinar is free and open to all.