Nuclear News

Published since 1959, Nuclear News is recognized worldwide as the flagship trade publication for the nuclear community. News reports cover plant operations, maintenance and security; policy and legislation; international developments; waste management and fuel; and business and contract award news.


Wyoming as a hub for new nuclear manufacturing and microreactor deployment?

June 14, 2024, 3:10PMNuclear News

A 60-year-old Wyoming industrial machinery company is partnering with nuclear innovator BWX Technologies to deploy 50-megawatt microreactors in America’s heartland over the coming years to provide carbon-free heat and power for industrial users.

Company touts efficiency of coin cell nuclear battery

June 14, 2024, 9:30AMNuclear News
Photo: Infinity Power

Infinity Power has developed a nuclear battery that it says generates electrical power from radioisotopes with 60 percent overall efficiency, exceeding that of other radioisotope energy conversion methods, which are typically less than 10 percent. The company believes its technology—developed in part under contracts from the Department of Defense—has potential for “next-generation radioisotope power sources.”

Texas talks nuclear as forecast calls for rolling blackouts

June 13, 2024, 3:00PMNuclear News

Texans are likely to experience intermittent power outages this summer, according to an analysis by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.

Members of ERCOT, the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT), and others from the energy industry spoke to the state’s House of Representatives’ Committee on State Affairs earlier this week. ERCOT’s newest report indicates a 16 percent chance of an electric grid emergency and a 12 percent chance of rolling blackouts in August—likely occurring on nights when there is low wind power production.

DOE approves safety design strategy for Radiant microreactor test plan

June 12, 2024, 12:01PMNuclear News
Concept art showing the delivery of Radiant’s Kaleidos to the DOME test bed. (Image: Radiant Industries/Ryan Seper)

Radiant Industries announced on June 4 that the safety design strategy (SDS) for a test of its Kaleidos microreactor in the National Reactor Innovation Center’s DOME test bed at Idaho National Laboratory now has approval from the Department of Energy. Radiant hopes to test Kaleidos—a 1-MW high-temperature, gas-cooled reactor—by 2026 and then market portable commercial reactors to power remote locations and provide backup or primary power for critical applications in hospitals or for disaster relief.

Surveys reveal public support for, but some concerns on, nuclear energy

June 12, 2024, 9:30AMNuclear News
Trends in percentages of the U.S. public favoring or opposing nuclear energy from 1983 to 2024. (Graphic: Bisconti Research)

Results of two new surveys have shed light on American public opinion regarding nuclear energy. The surveys, which were conducted with very different methods, offer generally encouraging news for the nuclear industry.

California lawmakers, governor at odds over Diablo Canyon funding

June 11, 2024, 3:01PMNuclear News
Gov. Gavin Newsom visits Diablo Canyon in this 2023 photo (Source: Governor’s office)

In budget discussions conducted last week, the California legislature rejected a $400 million budget item to help keep the state’s sole remaining nuclear plant operational.

Diablo Canyon—owned by Pacific Gas & Electric—has been the subject of much debate in California. To meet grid demands during a record hot summer in 2022, Gov. Gavin Newsom had cut a deal to give $1.4 billion to support continued operations at the 2,200-MWe nuclear facility.

Florida mosquitoes targeted by nuclear-derived sterile insect technique

June 11, 2024, 12:01PMNuclear News
Release of sterile mosquitoes on Captiva Island in Lee County, Fla. (Photo: LCMCD)

Sterile mosquitoes are being used to reduce the population of insecticide-resistant Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in Fort Myers, Fla., which can spread viruses including dengue, yellow fever, Zika, and chikungunya.

TerraPower breaks ground on SMR project in Wyoming

June 11, 2024, 7:00AMNuclear News
Craig Piercy, ANS Executive Director/CEO (third from left), and ANS Board member Jess Gehin, associate laboratory director for nuclear science & technology at Idaho National Laboratory (second from left), join other officials at the ceremonial groundbreaking for TerraPower’s Natrium reactor demonstration project.

A ceremony in Wyoming yesterday marked the official start of construction of TerraPower’s planned Natrium reactor demonstration project.

While currently awaiting final review from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, TerraPower is moving forward with nonnuclear construction work at a retired coal plant near Kemmerer, Wyo. The groundbreaking brought together TerraPower leaders, government officials, Natrium project partners, industry advocates, and community supporters.

New fusion energy strategies and partnerships announced at White House event

June 10, 2024, 12:00PMNuclear News

Just one week after the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy hosted a summit on domestic nuclear deployment, they filled a room again on June 6 for a livestreamed event cohosted with the Department of Energy to announce a new DOE fusion energy strategy and new public-private partnership programs, and to hear directly from stakeholders—including scientists, private fusion companies, investors, and end users—during panel discussions on fusion science and technology progress and the path to fusion energy commercialization.

USA’s John Christensen on the supply chain and other things

June 10, 2024, 11:09AMNuclear NewsRick Michal

Christensen

The conversation was casual with John Christensen, president and chief executive officer of Utilities Service Alliance, as he reflected on his 17 years with the organization. Christensen will be stepping down from USA to retire at the end of the year. He will be succeeded as president and CEO/managing director by Karen Fili, most recently with Urenco USA.

USA is a nonprofit organization incorporated in 1996 to provide its utility and nonutility members a business platform to collaborate on plant performance and economic benefit initiatives. Currently, USA members include 39 nuclear reactors (and one uranium enrichment plant) that provide more than 39,650 MWe of generation. As Christensen explained, USA members get the best of both worlds: the fleet benefits by working with USA while keeping the flexibility of independent operator status. (See the sidebar below for a members list.)

Words from Westinghouse: The nuclear supply chain impacts and challenges

June 7, 2024, 3:04PMNuclear NewsGuest Contributor
A cut-away view of Westinghouse’s AP300 reactor. (Image: Westinghouse)

Power generation from nuclear fission as a clean and stable source of electricity has secured the interest of policymakers and industry leaders around the globe. Last fall, the United States spearheaded a pledge at COP28 to get countries to agree to triple nuclear capacity worldwide, and recently the members of the Group of 7 (G7) nations that currently use nuclear power have reaffirmed their pledges to invest in that power source to cut carbon emissions.

As of this writing, U.S. policymakers are trying to make good on that promise by passing legislation to support nuclear power, funding the domestic fuel supply chain, and working to pass the ADVANCE Act. On top of the support from Washington, D.C., power-hungry industries like data centers and chemical engineering are looking to secure stable, carbon-free power directly from power plants.

Curtiss-Wright acquires Ultra Energy

June 7, 2024, 9:30AMNuclear News

North Carolina-based Curtiss-Wright has entered into an agreement to acquire Ultra Energy, a subsidiary of the U.K.-headquartered Ultra Electronics Holdings. Ultra Energy is a designer and manufacturer of reactor protection systems, neutron monitoring systems, radiation monitoring systems, and temperature and pressure sensors. The $200 million deal is expected to close this year in the third quarter, subject to U.K. regulatory approval.

Sometimes when the earth moves, not everyone notices

June 7, 2024, 7:01AMNuclear NewsCraig Piercy

Craig Piercy
cpiercy@ans.org

On August 23, 2011, at 1:51 p.m., I was standing next to Matt Milazzo, a former ANS Congressional Fellow, on the sidewalk of a high-traffic D.C. street. We were saying goodbye after a pleasant lunch. At that exact moment, a seismic wave from a 5.9 magnitude earthquake in Mineral, Va.—one that would be felt as far away as Canada and cause hundreds of millions of dollars in damage—rippled under my feet. Perhaps it felt too familiar, like a heavy truck passing by, or maybe the oscillation peaked just as I was turning to walk back to my office. Either way, I didn’t feel a thing. The largest East Coast earthquake in 100 years, and I missed it. Completely. It wasn’t until I saw the stunned faces of my colleagues and a few picture frames scattered on the floor of my office that I understood the gravity of the moment.

Today, as I wrap my head around the stunningly large amount of energy that will be required to support advanced data center and AI functions in the coming years, I get the same feeling—that something big and consequential has happened in my larger world and I have been slow to perceive the magnitude of it.

Xcimer raises $100 million to invest in inertial fusion laser tech

June 6, 2024, 3:00PMNuclear News
Xcimer Energy’s headquarters in Denver, Colo. (Photo: Xcimer Energy)

Xcimer Energy announced June 4 that it has raised $100 million in Series A financing for a new facility in Denver, Colo., that will host a prototype laser system with “the world’s largest nonlinear optical pulse compression system.” As a private fusion developer, Xcimer wants to “extend the proven science of inertial fusion to industrial scale” with the help of that laser system and “key technologies and innovations from multiple fields.”

Army solicits bids for microreactors to site at military bases

June 6, 2024, 12:01PMNuclear News

The U.S. Army is asking nuclear companies to submit their proposals for microreactors that can be commissioned at military bases to provide clean, reliable power at two domestic military sites.

The bid solicitation window is short—just two weeks—but the army is asking for very high-level proposals from advanced nuclear companies who are ready to jump into action. Following the initial submission period, top contenders for the project will be invited back for pitch sessions; full contracts then will be negotiated.

The future has more in store for nuclear

June 6, 2024, 7:04AMNuclear NewsKen Petersen

Ken Petersen
president@ans.org

Big news as I write this, my last column as ANS president: Legislation has been passed that will ban the importation of uranium from Russia (though waivers can be used in certain circumstances to continue imports through 2027). This ban has been discussed since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. I am sure all U.S. utilities have followed their risk-management policies.

With two years to plan, appropriate-use waivers, and access to American Assured Fuel Supply, there should not be any disruption to domestic reactor operations. The ban will force the United States and our Western allies to be independent and stronger. Congress has helped by providing $2.72 billion to support new domestic enrichment capacity. The challenge now is for the Department of Energy to turn this into actual new capacity as quickly as possible.

Urgent imperative: The crucial role of near-term nuclear deployment

June 5, 2024, 12:00PMNuclear NewsJohn Wagner

John Wagner

As advocates for the environment, national security, and U.S. prosperity, and as believers that the substantial global expansion of nuclear energy is essential to these interests, let’s take a moment to recognize how far we have come.

In recent years, much has changed. Public opinion polls show increasingly broad support for nuclear energy, which has bipartisan and bicameral support in Congress. The U.S. is on the cusp of achievements that could usher in a new era of nuclear energy and reestablish U.S. global leadership. The prevailing question is no longer whether we need nuclear energy, but rather, how much more nuclear power do we need, how can we enable first movers, and how quickly can we deploy new reactors.