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.

NRC comments on NuScale’s draft application for SMR design

December 6, 2022, 12:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

In a letter to NuScale Power, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission responded to the company’s draft standard design approval application (SDAA) for its small modular reactor design by identifying “several challenging and/or significant issues that could be focus areas for the SDAA acceptance and/or safety review.” The letter described the findings of the NRC’s preapplication readiness assessment and recommended NuScale’s “continued engagement” on a number of topics of concern before finalizing the SDAA.

Nuclear Innovation Bootcamp will be in Tokyo in 2023

December 5, 2022, 9:33AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The 2023 Nuclear Innovation Bootcamp (NIB2023) will take place at the Tokyo Institute of Technology from July 29 to August 12, 2023. The event, cohosted by Tokyo Tech’s Nuclear Innovator Cultivation Program and the Washington, D.C.-based Nuclear Innovation Alliance, will offer training for students and early- career professionals in skills essential to innovation in nuclear energy via expert-led sessions, team-building exercises, and a group project design and competition.

Zaporizhzhia the focus of Grossi interview

December 1, 2022, 3:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe


The ongoing, tense situation surrounding the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine was the subject of a recent interview with International Atomic Energy Agency director general Rafael Mariano Grossi when he appeared on CBS's 60 Minutes program.

The Zaporizhzhia facility is in an area of Ukraine that became occupied by Russian forces in late February 2022. Though Ukrainian staff remain at the now mostly idle plant, artillery shells have repeatedly landed at and near the plant over the past several months, with Ukrainian officials—along with many Western media outlets—blaming Russia, while Russian officials and media blame Ukraine.

Action from the IAEA: Following months of negotiations with both sides, inspectors from the IAEA, led by Grossi, finally visited the site in late August and early September, and the agency has been monitoring the situation since then with an observation mission at the site. In the interview, which aired on November 20, Grossi did not attribute blame for the shelling to either side.

Russia expands its nuclear-powered icebreaker fleet in Arctic

November 30, 2022, 3:02PMANS Nuclear Cafe
The Yakutia awaits launch at St. Petersburg’s Baltic Shipyard on Nov. 22. (Photo: TASS/Valentin Yegorshin)

Advancing its efforts to develop the Arctic and establish new energy markets, Russia launched a new nuclear-powered icebreaker, the Yakutia, in St. Petersburg during a November 22 ceremony. At the launching in the northern Russian port city, the Russian flag was raised on another nuclear icebreaker, the Ural. Overseeing the events via video link from the Kremlin, Russian president Vladimir Putin said that the icebreakers “were laid down as part of a large serial project and are part of our large-scale, systematic work to reequip and replenish the domestic icebreaker fleet, to strengthen Russia's status as a great Arctic power.”

The male business of nuclear diplomacy

November 30, 2022, 9:30AMANS Nuclear CafeMaria Rentetzi

Maria Rentetzi

An unusual event during the recent General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency distracted the delegations of member states and the press from the Russian war in Ukraine and the fear of the next nuclear disaster. It was a small exhibition, Building the IAEA Headquarters and its Laboratories, at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna, which brought to life the history of the agency’s laboratories through photographs, original letters and documents, explanatory texts, and timetables.

I was invited to participate in a related panel discussion that shed light on the early days of the “world’s first full-fledged laboratory of a truly international character” (in the words of an article about Seibersdorf Laboratory that ran in the January 1962 edition of the IAEA Bulletin) and its role in science diplomacy. There, I spoke of something that had struck me: Women were totally missing from the agency during this early period—making nuclear diplomacy an exclusively male business. To a large extent (as, for example, the recent IAEA missions to Ukraine show) nuclear continues to be a gendered endeavor.

Fortune article summarizes nuclear fusion developments

November 30, 2022, 7:01AMANS Nuclear Cafe
The JET tokamak. (Photo: European Consortium for the Development)

Nuclear fusion “might actually be on the cusp of commercial viability” today, says a recent article in Fortune magazine. The article offers a brief review of recent technical and entrepreneurial developments in fusion energy. It also places these developments in perspective regarding the hurdles that remain before commercialization can be realized.

OMEGA laser reveals findings on radiation-plasma interactions

November 29, 2022, 12:03PMANS Nuclear Cafe
Diagram of the University of Rochester Laboratory for Laser Energetics’ OMEGA laser system. (Image: University of Rochester)

A study recently published in Nature Communications brings a new perspective on how radiation travels through dense plasmas, potentially leading to a better understanding of the evolution of stars and the development of controlled nuclear fusion reactions. Researchers led by investigators at the University of Rochester Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) achieved their findings by conducting experiments with LLE’s OMEGA laser system. This extensive system, which is 19 meters tall and 70 meters long, consists of 60 laser beams that can focus as much as 30,000 joules of energy onto a target for the study of nuclear and fluid dynamic events.


Lecture on nuclear energy’s role in climate-related innovation coming up

November 29, 2022, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe


As part of the Purdue University–Duke Energy Understanding Tomorrow’s Nuclear Energy Lecture Series, Richard K. Lester of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will give a speech on Wednesday, November 30, from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. EST. Lester, associate provost and a professor of nuclear science and engineering at MIT, was previously head of the university’s Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering. The event will also feature a panel discussion with Lester, Lefteri H. Tsoukalas, and Morgan Smith.

Register now: The lecture, “Tough Tech for Climate: Innovation Challenges, University Responsibilities, and Some Comments on the Nuclear Role,” can be attended in person at Eliza Fowler Hall, in the Stewart Center of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. The talk will also be available to watch on YouTube, where it will be live streamed. Advance registration is required. Following registration, individuals will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

JNSI celebrates accomplishments on 10th anniversary

November 28, 2022, 6:59AMANS Nuclear Cafe
JANSI’s chairman William Edward Webster Jr. (left), and president and CEO Hiromi Yamazaki. (Photo: JANSI)

The Japan Nuclear Safety Institute (JANSI) marked its 10th anniversary on November 15 by publishing a letter that highlighted some of the organization’s greatest accomplishments of the past decade. In the letter, William Edward Webster Jr., chairman of the JANSI board of directors, and Hiromi Yamazaki, JANSI president and chief executive officer, expressed their “sincere gratitude to all our members and other stakeholders who have provided support and guidance over the past 10 years.”

NRC investigates improper fuel use at University of Texas research reactor

November 23, 2022, 12:02PMANS Nuclear Cafe
The TRIGA Mark II nuclear research reactor. (Photo: University of Texas)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has conducted a special inspection at the University of Texas’s TRIGA Mark II nuclear research reactor in Austin to evaluate the use of improper fuel. The inspection was ordered following a notification from the University of Texas—Austin to the NRC that the research reactor had been operating for several months with two fuel elements that were not licensed for the reactor.

NEXT Lab’s molten salt research reactor inches closer to NRC approval

November 22, 2022, 9:31AMANS Nuclear Cafe
The molten salt test loop at ACU’s NEXT Lab. (Photo: Jeremy Enlow/SteelShutter)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has announced that it will review a construction permit submitted by the Nuclear Energy eXperimental Testing (NEXT) Laboratory at Abilene Christian University for the lab’s planned molten salt research reactor (MSRR). The NRC informed Rusty Towell, director of the NEXT Lab and professor in ACU’s Department of Engineering and Physics, about its acceptance of the construction permit review in a November 18 letter. The NEXT Lab had submitted the construction permit application on August 15; it was the first-ever university application for an advanced research reactor. On October 14, they provided the NRC with additional information about instrumentation and controls. (Nuclear News featured an article about the NEXT Lab and the MSRR in the November issue.)

Report touts nuclear energy’s investment attractiveness based on ESG standards

November 17, 2022, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Nuclear energy “has exceptional characteristics that make it uniquely qualified to address all three facets of the energy trilemma: affordability, sustainability, and reliability,” according to a new report, Solving the Energy Trilemma: The Case for Nuclear as a Sustainable Investment. Developed by the Center for ESG and Sustainability (CESG), which has a partnership with Columbia University’s International Research Institute for Climate and Society, the report concludes, “Even absent ESG [environmental, social, and governance] considerations, nuclear is an investible asset. However, its strong ESG performance makes the case for investment even stronger.”

West Virginia hospital to correct nuclear medicine violations

November 16, 2022, 3:03PMANS Nuclear Cafe

The Cabell Huntington Hospital system, based in Huntington, W.V., has begun implementing corrective actions associated with nuclear medicine activities, in line with a settlement agreement reached with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The agreement stems from NRC inspections at the hospital’s facilities that uncovered 14 violations, described in a June 2022 NRC inspection report. As a result of the hospital taking corrective action, the NRC will not impose civil penalties.

U.S.-Japan Nuclear Security Working Group resumes meetings

November 16, 2022, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The U.S.-Japan Nuclear Security Working Group (NSWG) convened for its 11th meeting in early November in Tokyo. The group continued its efforts, begun in 2011, to strengthen global nuclear security and enhance international cooperation in peaceful nuclear activities. The meeting was originally scheduled for 2020 but was postponed because of restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Panel on nuclear energy and climate change to be livestreamed from COP27

November 14, 2022, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe
Scheduled to appear at the Energy Security panel session at COP27: from left, moderator Sweta Chakraborty and speakers Kathryn Huff, Seth Grae, and Bonnie Jenkins.

The United Nations’ COP27 conference, held this year in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, from November 6 to 18, will feature the panel discussion “Energy Security” on Tuesday, November 15, at 9:00 a.m. EST (4:00 p.m. local time). The discussion is being sponsored by the review platform We Don’t Have Time; the live stream will be available to viewers on their COP27 Climate Hub website.

USS Rickover crew visits Chicago’s Naval Academy

November 9, 2022, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe
The USS Rickover (SSN 795). (Photo: USS Hyman G. Rickover Commissioning Committee)

NBC Chicago featured a story last week about a visit to the Windy City by the commander and crew of the USS Hyman G. Rickover (SSN-795), the navy’s newest nuclear submarine. The submarine was christened in July 2021 and is currently undergoing trials out of Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Conn., before its expected commissioning in 2023. Reporter Charlie Wojciechowski described the sailors’ meetings with students from Chicago’s Rickover Naval Academy, along with the sailors’ visits to the Museum of Science and Industry and other city landmarks. He also interviewed Commander Matthew H. Beach.

University of Tennessee hosts inaugural NEDHO Diversity Panel

November 3, 2022, 6:47AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The University of Tennessee–Knoxville Department of Nuclear Engineering hosted the inaugural Nuclear Engineering Department Heads Organization (NEDHO) Diversity Panel on October 27. The panel featured three African American speakers who discussed overcoming challenges in their engineering education and careers to find success. A common theme that emerged from the conversation was that, in addition to their own determination to succeed, all the panelists benefited from caring adult guidance during their youth, as well as from strong support from friends, family, and colleagues as they pursued their goals.

Can "sea purslane" flora near nuclear facilities remove cesium from soil?

November 2, 2022, 12:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe
Sesuvium portulacastrum (Photo: David Eickhoff/Wikicommoms)

The authors of a study that was recently published in Advances in Agriculture have recommended that the plant Sesuvium portulacastrum, commonly known as sea purslane, “be cultivated in [cesium]-contaminated soils and near nuclear power plants for phytoremediation.” The researchers found that S. portulacastrum is a “hyper-accumulator” of radioactive cesium isotopes, which are byproducts of nuclear fission reactions in nuclear reactors. The study results suggested that these plants could efficiently remove the toxic metallic chemicals from contaminated soil around nuclear facilities.

NRC is now on Instagram

November 1, 2022, 9:31AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is increasing its social media presence with its new Instagram page, the agency announced. The "nrcgov” account on the popular site will post photos, short videos, and graphics to add “a more creative approach to information regarding the NRC’s mission, with a focus on the skilled and diverse employees who carry it out.”

OECD NEA director general presents an optimistic vision for tomorrow despite challenges of today

November 1, 2022, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe


As part of the Purdue University–Duke Energy Understanding Tomorrow’s Nuclear Energy lecture series, William D. Magwood IV, director general of the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), delivered a lecture on October 24 at the Purdue Memorial Union Ballrooms. “The 21st Century Nuclear Resurgence: Opportunities and Challenges” was the third lecture in the series, which focuses on small modular reactors.

Magwood reviewed the factors that have led to the current increased interest in nuclear energy around the world, the serious challenges that must be quickly and adequately addressed, and the structural barriers that require new thinking by regulators and policymakers. He also commented on the ongoing Purdue-Duke study of the feasibility of using SMRs to meet the West Lafayette campus’s long-term energy needs.