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.

Clean hydrogen energy bill unveiled

August 10, 2021, 2:58PMNuclear News




A bipartisan trio of House members from Pennsylvania last week introduced legislation to accelerate research and development, as well as deployment, of hydrogen from clean energy sources.

Hydrogen can be produced from a variety of domestically available clean sources, notes the Clean Hydrogen Energy Act, including nuclear power, renewables, and fossil fuels with carbon capture, utilization, and storage.

Reps. Mike Doyle (D., Pa.), Brian Fitzpatrick (R., Pa.), and Conor Lamb (D., Pa.) sponsored the measure.

UWC opening plenary session kicks off first ANS in-person meeting since COVID-19 outbreak

August 10, 2021, 12:06PMNuclear News

Even before the 2021 Utility Working Conference got fully underway on Monday morning, it was already a noteworthy event. The hybrid in-person/virtual meeting based at the JW Marriott in Marco Island, Fla., marks the first time that ANS has held an in-person event since the Winter Meeting in November 2019.

Nuclear-generated hydrogen could decarbonize marine shipping

August 10, 2021, 6:58AMNuclear News

On August 4, the Clean Air Task Force (CATF) released a white paper, Bridging the Gap: How Nuclear-Derived Zero-Carbon Fuels Can Help Decarbonize Marine Shipping, containing policy recommendations for a U.S.-led transition away from fossil-based shipping fuels to nuclear-produced fuels and energy carriers like hydrogen and ammonia. According to CATF, in 2018, the international shipping industry accounted for 2.6 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions—more than the international aviation sector. Sector-wide emissions are on pace to triple by 2050.

Water-saving technology developed at MIT could clear the air around nuclear plants

August 9, 2021, 12:14PMNuclear News
The right side of the cooling tower of MIT’s reactor has the new system installed, eliminating its plume of vapor, while the untreated left side continues to produce a steady vapor stream. (Image: MIT/courtesy of the researchers)

The white plumes of steam billowing from the cooling towers of nuclear power plants and other thermal power plants represent an opportunity to some—the opportunity to collect a valued resource, purified water, that is now lost to the atmosphere. A small company called Infinite Cooling is looking to commercialize a technology recently developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology by the Varanasi Research Group, whose work is described in an article written by David L. Chandler, of the MIT News Office, and published on August 3.

Romania receives U.S. nuclear delegation

August 9, 2021, 9:18AMNuclear News
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Kathryn Huff (at left) and the U.S. Embassy in Romania’s Chargé d’Affaires David Muniz (at right), met with Virgil Popescu, Romania’s minister of energy, on July 29.

A delegation from the Department of Energy arrived in Romania in late July to discuss bilateral energy cooperation and Romania’s expansion plans for its sole nuclear power plant, Cernavoda. The delegation was led by Kathryn Huff, acting assistant secretary and principal deputy assistant secretary for the Office of Nuclear Energy.

Senate panel seeks a more modest increase in NE funding than House counterparts

August 6, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday approved three of the 12 fiscal year 2022 funding measures, including an Energy and Water Development bill that provides the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) with an increase of 5.5 percent over last year’s allocation—half of the boost recommended for NE last month by House appropriators.

The Senate panel advanced the legislation by a vote of 25–5, with all five no votes from GOP members: Sens. Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), John Kennedy (R., La.), Mike Braun (R., Ind.), Bill Hagerty (R., Tenn.), and Marco Rubio (R., Fla.).

High-energy physics gets DOE funding

August 6, 2021, 7:01AMNuclear News

The Department of Energy’s Office of Science (DOE-SC) on August 2 announced a plan to provide $100 million over the next four years for university-based research on a range of high-energy physics topics through a new funding opportunity announcement. The objective of “FY 2022 Research Opportunities in High Energy Physics,” sponsored by the Office of High Energy Physics within DOE-SC, is to advance fundamental knowledge about how the universe works.

Corey Hinderstein nominated for NNSA nonproliferation post

August 5, 2021, 3:01PMNuclear News


President Biden has nominated Corey Hinderstein, ANS member since 2016, for deputy administrator for defense nuclear nonproliferation for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.

Hinderstein is vice president of international fuel cycle strategies at the Nuclear Threat Initiative, based in Washington, D.C. Her focus is on international nuclear fuel cycle and nonproliferation policy, global nuclear security, and arms control and nonproliferation monitoring and verification.

An inventive solution speeds up production of actinium-225

August 5, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News
Chemist Kevin Gaddis has adapted components of a high-pressure ion chromatography system to withstand the extreme conditions of a hot cell. (Photo: ORNL/Carlos Jones)

An Oak Ridge National Laboratory researcher has built a device that can speed up the separation of the medical radioisotope actinium-225 from irradiated thorium targets and withstand the high-radiation environment of a hot cell. In July, ORNL announced that Kevin Gaddis, a chemistry technician at the lab, had built and tested a prototype and was working to secure a patent for a device that cut separations time by 75 percent.

Exelon still “hopeful” for state aid to IL plants, but solution remains in limbo

August 5, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News

A $6 billion lifeline for struggling U.S. nuclear power plants is reportedly included in the nearly $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill currently being mulled over in the U.S. Senate, but it won’t be thrown in time to rescue Illinois’s Byron and Dresden plants, according to owner and operator Exelon.

In an August 4 statement on second-quarter earnings, Exelon’s president and chief executive officer, Chris Crane, noted that while his company is encouraged by the growth of federal support for policies that acknowledge the value of nuclear’s clean energy generation, “passage of legislation remains uncertain and, regardless, will come too late to save our Byron and Dresden plants from early retirement this fall. While we remain hopeful that a state solution will pass in time to save the plants, clean energy legislation in Illinois remains caught in negotiations over unrelated policy matters, leaving us no choice but to continue down the path of closing the plants.” (Last August, Exelon announced its intention to prematurely retire Byron and Dresden, citing long­standing economic pressures. Last week, the company filed decommissioning plans for the two nuclear facilities.)

ORNL to test accident tolerant fuel irradiated at Byron-2

August 4, 2021, 3:02PMNuclear News
Irradiated lead test rods are delivered to Oak Ridge National Laboratory for examination. (Photo: ORNL)

Several lead test rods of Westinghouse’s EnCore accident tolerant fuel recently arrived at Oak Ridge National Laboratory for post-irradiation examination over the next year in support of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s licensing process. The rods were installed in 2019 in Exelon’s Byron-2, a 1,158-MWe pressurized water reactor, and were removed in fall 2020 and prepared for shipment to ORNL.

China’s 51st power reactor enters operation

August 4, 2021, 12:01PMNuclear News
Workers in the control room of the newly operational Honghanye-5 reactor. (Photo: Liaoning Hongyanhe Nuclear Power Company)

China continues its relentless march toward the top of the list of nations with the most power reactors. On July 31, China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) announced that Unit 5 at the Hongyanhe plant in Liaoning Province has begun commercial operation, giving China 51 commercial-scale power reactors, only five fewer than France, which currently sits at the number-two spot on the list with 56 operating reactors.

University infrastructure bill calls for investments in advanced nuclear, workforce

August 4, 2021, 7:07AMNuclear News
A rendering of Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation’s micro modular reactor as proposed for construction on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus. (Graphic: USNC)

A bipartisan group of legislators has introduced a bill to invest in university nuclear science and engineering infrastructure, establish regional consortia to promote collaboration with industry and national laboratories, and support the development of advanced reactor technology. The National Nuclear University Research Infrastructure Reinvestment Act of 2021 (H.R. 4819) was introduced in the House of Representatives by Reps. Anthony Gonzalez (R., Ohio), Sean Casten (D., Ill.), Peter Meijer (R., Mich.), and Bill Foster (D., Ill).

License extension for fuel site receives preliminary approval from NRC

August 3, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News

In a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) published last week, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission made a “preliminary recommendation” for approval of Westinghouse Electric Company’s application to renew for 40 years the operating license of its Columbia Fuel Fabrication Facility (CFFF), located in Hopkins, S.C.

DOE’s Huff: VTR is key to sustained advanced reactor innovation

August 3, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear News
A rendering of the VTR facility. (Image: INL)

Kathryn Huff, the Department of Energy’s acting assistant secretary for nuclear energy, asserted in an article published online by the Office of Nuclear Energy (DOE-NE) on July 30 that demonstration reactors, such as the Natrium and Xe-100 reactors being built as full-size power producers with cost-shared funding from the DOE, and test reactors, such as the Versatile Test Reactor, are both necessary for nuclear innovation. Both are also line items in the DOE budget request, and Huff’s article sends a clear message to appropriators about the need to fund both the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP) and the VTR.

Bumpy roads lead to beautiful places

August 2, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear NewsCraig Piercy

Craig Piercy

Per Nuclear News tradition, this month’s issue is dedicated to highlighting our nuclear technology supply chain. U.S. nuclear suppliers have certainly seen their share of challenges in the last decade or so. The widely anticipated “Nuclear Renaissance” of the early 2000s gave way to Fukushima, then a wavelet of plant closures that ANS President Steve Nesbit addresses in his column on page 15 of the August 2021 issue of Nuclear News.

However, the nuclear narrative has taken on a more positive tone of late. Significant federal investments in advanced nuclear energy systems, coupled with a broader recognition of the need to decarbonize, has stoked excitement for a new generation of U.S. technology on the verge of scaled commercial deployment by the end of the decade. Hopefully, in the words of Washington Nationals manager Davey Martinez, whose team went from a 19–32 record to World Series champs in 2019, “Bumpy roads lead to beautiful places.”

U.K. requests input on HTGR potential

August 2, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News

The U.K. government last week issued a “call for evidence” inviting stakeholders to weigh in on its choice of the high-temperature gas reactor for Britain’s £170 million (about $236 million) advanced modular reactor (AMR) demonstration program. The deadline for input on the government’s selection is September 9.

According to the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy, the key objective of the AMR program is to demonstrate high-temperature heat production that can be used for low-carbon hydrogen production, process heat (for industrial and domestic use), and cost-competitive electricity generation in time for an AMR to support the government’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. The target for enabling an AMR demonstration is the early 2030s.

University students explore nuclear nonproliferation with LANL experts

August 2, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear News
Left: The University of Texas at Austin SBD Challenge team: from left, Michael Butero, Matthew Frangos, Daniel Gutierrez, and John (Jack) Whelan. Right: The University of Rhode Island team: from left, Jay Macchia, Sean Babin, and Peter Tillinghast. (Photo: NNSA)

The National Nuclear Security Administration's Office of Nonproliferation and Arms Control has been partnering with national laboratories and universities to introduce engineering students to the field of international safeguards. Safeguards ensure that nuclear material and facilities are not used to illicitly manufacture nuclear weapons, the NNSA noted in a July 27 article.