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 museum to host virtual event on gay Manhattan Project scientist

June 23, 2022, 3:03PMANS Nuclear Cafe

John Ibson

In an era where being openly gay could get you blacklisted, how was one scientist able to keep his high-security clearance level with the Manhattan Project and beyond? To find out, attend the virtual event “A ‘Lavender Lad’ with a Security Clearance: A Gay Scientist and Homophobia in Midcentury America” on June 24 at 4:00 p.m. (EDT). The National Museum of Nuclear Science and History is sponsoring the event and the featured speaker is John Ibson, professor emeritus of American studies at California State University–Fullerton.

The webinar, which requires advance registration, is free for members of the museum. Members can obtain a promo code by emailing the museum’s membership associate, Jennifer Thompson. For others, the registration fee is $10.

Tuberville’s legislation would stop destruction of thorium stockpiles

June 22, 2022, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe
Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama.

Legislation known as the Thorium Energy Security Act, introduced in Congress last month by U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R., Ala.), would put a halt to the destruction of U.S. stockpiles of uranium-233 and instead would foster its integration into the development of thorium molten salt–cooled reactors, Newsweek reported last week. The act has been referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

China’s prototype technology described as step toward energy independence

June 20, 2022, 9:27AMANS Nuclear Cafe
Roadmap for the China Initiative Accelerator-Driven System project development. (Image: Zhijun Wang/CAS)

Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Modern Physics are making strides with their China Initiative Accelerator-Driven System (CiADS) technology, which is being developed to get more life out of used nuclear fuel. Defense One, an online news source that focuses on “the future of U.S. defense and national security,” describes the prototype system as a step in moving China toward energy independence and advancing that nation’s “global leadership in climate-friendly technology.”

Join IIT and Fermilab for online workshop on materials research with the Versatile Test Reactor

June 17, 2022, 12:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

The Illinois Institute of Technology and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory are hosting a two-day online workshop exploring overlapping interests in radiation damage and characterization among the nuclear energy and high-energy physics communities. The workshop, titled “Radiation Damage in Accelerator Materials and the Potential Use of the Versatile Test Reactor for the Study of Accelerator Materials,” is scheduled for Monday, June 20, and Tuesday, June 21, beginning at 9:00 a.m. (EDT) each day.

Registration is free and can be completed by emailing IIT professor Jeff Terry.

Feinstein joins Diablo defenders

June 16, 2022, 7:24AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Feinstein

Although previously a supporter of Diablo Canyon’s early closure, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein took to the pages of the Sacramento Bee yesterday to endorse life extension for the state’s sole operating nuclear power plant.

Citing projected electricity shortfalls in California due to the effects of climate change, Feinstein writes that “Pacific Gas and Electric Company should reconsider its decision to close Diablo Canyon by 2025. The utility should get the plant relicensed instead, retiring it once the state can replace its production with clean sources.”

The senator continues: “I remain concerned about the lack of long-term storage for spent nuclear fuel and am working to develop better solutions. But at this point, keeping Diablo Canyon open and producing carbon-free energy is more important.”

Bisconti survey finds record high U.S. public support for nuclear energy

June 14, 2022, 9:35AMANS Nuclear Cafe

A new survey conducted by Bisconti Research shows strong numbers for public support of nuclear energy and for the building of additional nuclear power plants in the United States. Unlike other surveys on nuclear energy, which have yielded varying results over time, the Bisconti survey—known as the National Nuclear Energy Public Opinion Survey—is the only poll that has consistently asked the same questions in the same context for the past four decades, making its findings especially noteworthy for the nuclear industry.

Latest stats on nuclear energy in Europe released by nucleareurope

June 14, 2022, 8:39AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The Brussels-based nuclear energy trade association nucleareurope has published its latest Infographics, containing a variety of facts and figures on the use of nuclear energy in Europe. Some of the many interesting bits of information in the publication are highlighted below.

Nuclear-powered cruise ship on the drawing board

June 8, 2022, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe
Rendering of the Thor and Sif concept cruise ships. (Image: Ulstein)

The Norwegian shipbuilding company Ulstein has developed a design concept for a cruise ship fueled by a molten salt nuclear reactor. In the company’s concept, the 500-foot-long, 60-passenger ship, named Thor—in reference to the Norse god as well as the thorium used in the reactor core–would generate its electricity with the onboard reactor. The ship would also serve as a charging station for a fully electric companion ship named Sif, named after the goddess who was Thor’s wife.

EPFL researchers update fusion’s “Greenwald limit”

June 7, 2022, 3:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

A newly released study led by physicist Paolo Ricci has revised a fundamental, foundational law of plasma generation and nuclear fusion by showing that more hydrogen fuel can safely be used in fusion reactors, thereby generating more energy than previously thought possible. Ricci, of the Swiss Plasma Center at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), explains that his team’s results indicate that tokamaks, such as the international collaborative project ITER, could use almost twice the amount of hydrogen fuel in their plasmas without the danger of disruption, or loss of confinement of the plasma.

The research team’s findings amend one of the long-time limitations (the so-called Greenwald limit) in generating and sustaining the high-temperature plasma needed to produce fusion energy.

Fast reactor technology getting renewed attention

June 7, 2022, 12:04PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Fast reactor technology, which can run on used nuclear fuel to generate energy, could fulfill U.S. energy needs for 100 years using existing waste, according to Jess Gehin, associate lab director at Idaho National Laboratory and an ANS member in a recent interview with CNBC. Gehin and other nuclear experts believe that this technology could provide substantial energy for the country, help resolve the debate over storing spent nuclear waste, and address the issue of climate change with more carbon-free energy generation. However, the commercial development of fast reactor technology has been hampered by political and economic roadblocks, which researchers are now seeking to overcome.

Newsom wants changes to credit program to delay Diablo Canyon closure

June 6, 2022, 12:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe
Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant

This past April, California Gov. Gavin Newsom expressed interest in using the federal government’s new $6 billion Civil Nuclear Credit (CNC) Program to keep Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s Diablo Canyon nuclear plant in operation beyond its scheduled 2025 closure date.

That interest would appear not to have waned, as Newsom’s cabinet secretary, Ana Matosantos, recently sent a three-page letter to energy secretary Jennifer Granholm requesting some alterations to the program’s language to ensure that Diablo Canyon would be eligible to participate.

The full letter, detailing the requested changes, is available here.

Montana legislative panel hears from SMR backers and bashers

June 3, 2022, 12:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Montana is among the states that have already expressed interest in small modular reactor technology as a possible means of decarbonizing their energy sectors.

Just last year, Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte signed into law H.B. 273, transferring the power to authorize construction of nuclear power facilities in the state from the public (via referendum) to the legislature.

IAEA invites nuclear security students to apply for MSCFP internships

June 2, 2022, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The International Atomic Energy Agency’s Division of Nuclear Security is inviting female students who are enrolled in master’s programs in nuclear security to apply for internships in the IAEA Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship Programme (MSCFP). The MSCFP, launched in February 2020, has the objective of increasing the number of women in the nuclear field.

Grossi highlights the importance of nuclear energy at World Economic Forum

May 31, 2022, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe
Rafael Mariano Grossi speaks on a panel at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting. (Photo: WEF)

Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, has authored an article for the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting held last week in Davos, Switzerland.

South Korea makes offer on Poland’s nuclear project

May 25, 2022, 9:22AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Seung Chul Lee, deputy chief executive officer of Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power, has told the Polish Press Agency that KHNP is willing to cofinance the construction of six nuclear power units in Poland. KHNP formally offered to construct the APR1400 reactors, with a total capacity of 8.4 GW, in April. The Polish government plans to have the country’s first nuclear reactor begin operating in 2033 and for subsequent reactors to be completed every two to three years thereafter.

IAEA report moves Uganda closer to nuclear power

May 24, 2022, 12:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe
The flag of Uganda.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has delivered its report on Uganda’s infrastructure development for a nuclear power program to that country’s government, according to ESI Africa. The online power and energy journal states that the energy demand in the country (population: 43 million) has ballooned in recent years as the nation’s economy has expanded.

Illinois consumers are saving money by keeping nuclear plants open

May 23, 2022, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe
Byron nuclear power plant (Photo: Constellation)

“Keeping Illinois nuclear plants open is saving some customers $237 a year on average,” reads the headline of a recent CNBC article about the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act, which was passed by the Illinois legislature and signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker in September 2021. The legislation includes a provision to keep Illinois nuclear power plants open to meet the state’s clean energy goals, even if the facilities are not profitable.

A passionate call to save Diablo Canyon

May 20, 2022, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe

In a recent opinion piece for the San Luis Obispo Tribune, Heather Hoff describes her conversion from nuclear energy skeptic to advocate and lays out the case for keeping the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant open beyond its planned closure in 2025.

Hoff, who is an operations procedure writer at Diablo Canyon, tells how she spent years "excessively and sometimes annoyingly" investigating her concerns about the safety of nuclear after she was first hired at Diablo Canyon. She adds that she almost quit her job after the Fukushima accident until realizing that many concerns about that event were triggered by "fear of nuclear, rather than nuclear itself.”