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.

Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin: The woman who first grasped the elemental power of stars

May 10, 2024, 12:00PMNuclear News

When the U.S. Fusion Energy Outreach Team declared the second week of May as Fusion Energy Week, they were recognizing the May 10 birthday of Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin—the British-born American astronomer who applied principles of quantum physics, chemistry, and astronomy to become the first to realize—at the age of 25—that stars and the universe itself are mostly composed of hydrogen and helium, and that the stars could be sorted by their spectra into groups that corresponded to the temperature of the stars.

Urenco awarded $245M to build U.K. HALEU facility

May 10, 2024, 7:01AMNuclear News
The Capenhurst site in Cheshire, England. (Photo: Urenco)

The U.K. government this week announced a $245 million (£196 million) award to help Urenco build Europe’s first advanced reactor fuel manufacturing plant, which will be located in northwest England at the company’s Capenhurst site. Urenco, which is part-owned by the U.K. government, will cofund the project.

Proof of concept: The Molten Salt Reactor Experiment in Nuclear News

May 9, 2024, 3:00PMNuclear News
The December 1960 issue of NN, which announced plans to build the MSRE, paired with a still image from a 1969 video on the MSRE produced by ORNL.

By late 1960, when the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission authorized plans to build a Molten Salt Reactor Experiment (MSRE) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the lab already had about 13 years of experimentation with molten salt reactors under its longest-serving lab director, Alvin Weinberg. The MSRE operated from 1965 to 1969, proving that molten salt reactors could operate reliably, and with alternatives to uranium-235 too.

PPPL study points to better fusion plasma control

May 9, 2024, 12:00PMNuclear News
The image on the left shows the tokamak and 3D magnetic perturbation generated by 3D coils, with the purple-blue hues representing lower amplitude perturbations and the red representing higher amplitude perturbations. The image on the right is a closer view showing the top half of the tokamak and plasma. The coils are used to generate the magnetic field perturbations that produce the islands (blue). Another coil can also be found on the bottom of the machine. The injection system for the ECCD microwaves is depicted on top (red). These can be used to adjust the width of the islands. (Image: Qiming Hu / PPPL)

The combination of two previously known methods for managing plasma conditions can result in enhanced control of plasma in a fusion reactor, according to a simulation performed by researchers at the Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory.

G7 pledges support for nuclear at Italy meeting

May 8, 2024, 3:00PMNuclear News

The Group of Seven (G7) recommitted its support for nuclear energy in the countries that opt to use it at a Ministerial Meeting on Climate in Italy last month.

In a statement following the April meeting, the group committed to support multilateral efforts to strengthen the resilience of nuclear supply chains, referencing the goal set by 25 countries during last year’s COP28 climate conference in Dubai to triple global nuclear generating capacity by 2050.

Terrestrial Energy, Schneider partner on molten salt reactor

May 8, 2024, 12:00PMNuclear News
Representatives of Terrestrial Energy and Schneider Electric at the MOU signing ceremony. (Source: Terrestrial Energy)

Terrestrial Energy and Schneider Electric are teaming to deploy Terrestrial Energy's integral molten salt reactor (IMSR) to provide zero-emission power to industrial facilities and large data centers.

The companies signed a memorandum of understanding in April to jointly develop commercial opportunities with high-energy users looking for reliable, affordable, and zero-carbon baseload supply. Terrestrial Energy said that working with Schneider “offers solutions to the major energy challenges faced by data center operators and many heavy industries operating a wide range of industrial processes such as hydrogen, ammonia, aluminum, and steel production.”

Max Planck’s ELISE reaches record values for ITER plasma heating

May 8, 2024, 10:01AMNuclear News
The IPP’s Dirk Wünderlich and Ursel Fantz at the experimental testing facility ELISE in Germany. (Photo: MPI for Plasma Physics/Frank Fleschner)

The Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) announced that it recently has achieved a new record for ion current density for neutral particle heating at its ELISE (Extraction from a Large Ion Source Experiment) experimental testing facility in Garching, Germany. ELISE is being used to test neutral beam injection (NBI) systems that will be used to heat the plasma of the ITER fusion experiment in France.

Strong performances across the board

May 8, 2024, 7:00AMNuclear NewsCraig Piercy

Craig Piercy

Another year, another stellar performance by America’s nuclear plants. We’ve come to expect high capacity factors, and it’s a credit to the men and women of the profession. They’ve made routine something that was unimaginable not so long ago.

The decadal challenge for the nuclear enterprise now is to maintain this high level of operational excellence for the current fleet, while at the same time ushering in a new generation of technologies at scale. It will be a big job—but one that seems more and more likely with each passing day.

It is against this hopeful backdrop that I take the opportunity to update you on our latest steps toward making the American Nuclear Society a class-leading professional society.

The busyness of the nuclear fuel supply chain

May 7, 2024, 3:00PMNuclear NewsKen Petersen

Ken Petersen

With all that is happening in the industry these days, the nuclear fuel supply chain is still a hot topic. The Russian assault in Ukraine continues to upend the “where” and “how” of attaining nuclear fuel—and it has also motivated U.S. legislators to act.

Two years into the Russian war with Ukraine, things are different. The Inflation Reduction Act was passed in 2022, authorizing $700 million in funding to support production of high-­assay low-enriched uranium in the United States. Meanwhile, the Department of Energy this January issued a $500 million request for proposals to stimulate new HALEU production. The Emergency National Security Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2024 includes $2.7 billion in funding for new uranium enrichment production. This funding was diverted from the Civil Nuclear Credits program and will only be released if there is a ban on importing Russian uranium into the United States—which could happen by the time this column is published, as legislation that bans Russian uranium has passed the House as of this writing and is headed for the Senate. Also being considered is legislation that would sanction Russian uranium. Alternatively, the Biden-Harris administration may choose to ban Russian uranium without legislation in order to obtain access to the $2.7 billion in funding.

ORAU, ANS, others to host workshops on nuclear academic programs

May 7, 2024, 12:00PMNuclear News

Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU), in partnership with the American Nuclear Society, the Nuclear Energy Institute, and the Institute for Nuclear Power Operators, has announced it will host an online workshop called “Shaping the Future of Nuclear Academic Programs.” The 90-minute program is designed for university department heads and faculty interested in enhancing nuclear science and technology programs through best practices.

Steam is a sign of cooling system function . . . at ITER

May 7, 2024, 7:03AMNuclear News
ITER’s 10 cooling cells in the background have 11-meter-long 12-blade fans rotating at 92 rpm to induce an upward draft, which is reason for the yellow-vested assemblage in front to give a thumbs up. (Photo: ITER Organization)

Steam from one of ITER’s ten induced-draft cooling cells offers visual confirmation of a successful cooling system test, the ITER organization announced April 30. ITER’s cooling system features 60 kilometers of piping with pumps, filters, and heat exchangers that can pull water through at up to 14 cubic meters per second. Once fully operational, two cooling loops—one to remove the heat generated by the plasma in the ITER tokamak and one for its supporting infrastructure—will be capable of extracting up to 1,200 MW of heat.


Fusion Energy Week begins today

May 6, 2024, 7:03AMNuclear News
Illustration by Ana Kova for U.S. Fusion Outreach

Fusion is riding a surge of attention that began in December 2022 when researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s National Ignition Facility achieved fusion ignition. The organizers of Fusion Energy Week—a group called the U.S. Fusion Outreach Team—on the other hand, trace fusion development back 100 years to the doctoral research of Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, who discovered that stars, including our Sun, are mostly made of hydrogen and helium, which in turn led to the understanding that those elements are the “fuel” of potential fusion energy systems on Earth. In recognition of Payne-Gaposchkin’s birthday—May 10—the U.S. Fusion Outreach Team plans to hold a “grassroots celebration of fusion energy” May 6–10, 2024, and annually during the second week of May.

Developing a new regulatory framework for advanced reactors: Update on Part 53

May 3, 2024, 7:01AMNuclear News


The American Nuclear Society’s Risk-informed, Performance-based Principles and Policy Committee (RP3C) on March 29 held another presentation in its monthly Community of Practice (CoP) series. The presenter, Patrick White with the Nuclear Innovation Alliance (NIA), talked about the current status of efforts to develop a new regulatory framework for advanced reactors—known as 10 CFR Part 53 or simply Part 53. White serves as the research director of the NIA, where he leads their research as well as analysis-based stakeholder and policymaker engagement and education. White’s March 29 presentation is publicly available on YouTube and at ANS’s publication platform Nuclear Science and Technology Open Research (NSTOR).

RP3C chair N. Prasad Kadambi opened the CoP with brief introductory remarks about the RP3C before he welcomed White as the session’s presenter.

White covered three main topics: the history of the existing regulatory frameworks for new reactors, progress to date on the development of the Part 53 rule for advanced reactors, and the current status and next steps for the Part 53 rulemaking process.

Strontium: Supply-and-demand success for the DOE’s Isotope Program

May 2, 2024, 3:15PMNuclear News
ORNL’s High Flux Isotope Reactor, where Sr-89 and other radioisotopes are produced, photographed during a 2015 refueling. (Photo: ORNL)

The Department of Energy’s Isotope Program (DOE IP) announced last week that it would end its “active standby” capability for strontium-82 production about two decades after beginning production of the isotope for cardiac diagnostic imaging. The DOE IP is celebrating commercialization of the Sr-82 supply chain as “a success story for both industry and the DOE IP.” Now that the Sr-82 market is commercially viable, the DOE IP and its National Isotope Development Center can “reassign those dedicated radioisotope production capacities to other mission needs”—including Sr-89.

Bipartisan Fusion Energy Act pushes for regulatory clarity

May 2, 2024, 12:01PMNuclear News


Sen. Alex Padilla (D., Calif.) introduced the Fusion Energy Act (S. 4151) last month with a bipartisan group of cosponsors—John Cornyn (R., Texas), Cory Booker (D., N.J.), Todd Young (R., Ind.), and Patty Murray (D., Wash.). The legislation would codify the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s regulatory authority over commercial fusion energy systems to streamline the creation of clear federal regulations that will support the development of commercial fusion power plants—and would require a report within one year on a study of risk- and performance-based, design-specific licensing frameworks for “mass-manufactured fusion machines.”

“Congress must do everything in its power to ensure continued U.S. leadership in developing commercial fusion energy facilities,” said Padilla as he introduced the bill. “The Fusion Energy Act would provide regulatory certainty for investors as the NRC develops and streamlines frameworks for such facilities.”

NRC Hanson's renomination clears Senate committee

May 2, 2024, 9:30AMNuclear News


The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted 18–1 yesterday to advance the renomination of Christopher T. Hanson as a member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Hanson has been a commissioner since 2020, and was named chair by President Biden in January 2021. The full U.S. Senate will consider Hanson’s nomination later this month.

Voices of support: “Chair Hanson is a dedicated public [servant] who has thoughtfully and . . . skillfully led the [NRC] during his tenure as its chair. Throughout his time on the[NRC], he has demonstrated his commitment to ensuring the safety and the security of our nation’s use of nuclear energy,” said EPW committee chair Tom Carper (D., Del.) before the vote.

Excelsior University student section awarded community education grant

May 1, 2024, 4:52PMNuclear News

The American Nuclear Society student section at Excelsior University in Albany, N.Y., was awarded a $5,000 grant from the ANS Student Section Strategic Fund initiative for its program Empowering Tomorrow’s Nuclear Innovators: A Collaborative Approach to Nuclear Technology Education and Awareness.