ANS Annual Meeting: Comments from the opening plenary

June 14, 2022, 12:01PMNuclear News

Speaking on June 13 at the opening plenary of the 2022 American Nuclear Society Annual Meeting in Anaheim, Calif., Ted Nordhaus, founder and executive director of The Breakthrough Institute, said that the nuclear community has a “generational opportunity to reset both public opinion and policy with regard to nuclear energy.”

Driving the change in the discussion, Nordhaus said, are three items: the growing concern over climate change, a broader recognition that renewable energy sources are insufficient, and a “post-pandemic price shock” over rising energy prices.

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.

Authors of SMR study reply to NuScale comments

June 13, 2022, 3:01PMNuclear News

On June 2, Nuclear Newswire published a letter from Jose Reyes, chief technology officer at small modular reactor developer NuScale Power, to May R. Berenbaum, editor-in-chief of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, regarding a research article published by PNAS two days previous. The article, “Nuclear waste from small modular reactors,” has grabbed more than a few headlines for its claim that SMRs will actually generate more nuclear waste than a standard large pressurized water reactor.

Terrestrial Energy thinks its molten salt reactor may have a future in ammonia

June 13, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News
A cutaway of the Integral Molten Salt Reactor and balance of plant. (Image: Terrestrial Energy)

Ammonia is a carbon-free energy carrier that could be produced using thermal energy from nuclear power plants. Terrestrial Energy announced June 9 that it has signed an agreement with engineering firm KBR to explore the use of its Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) for both hydrogen and ammonia production.

Researchers to study how metal-corroding microbes may grow in Canadian repository

June 13, 2022, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
Myrna Simpson conducts molecular biogeochemistry research at the University of Toronto Scarborough. (Photo: Ken Jones/University of Toronto)

Researchers at three Canadian universities are studying whether bentonite clay—used as an engineered barrier in Canada’s proposed deep geological repository—can support sulfide-producing microbes that can eat away at the canisters containing spent nuclear fuel.

Zoonotic disease experts agree to use nuclear science against monkeypox, Lassa fever

June 13, 2022, 7:01AMNuclear News
IAEA director general Rafael Mariano Grossi addresses workshop attendees. (Photo: IAEA)

The International Atomic Energy Agency convened a workshop last week to explore how nuclear techniques backed by the IAEA’s Zoonotic Disease Integrated Action (ZODIAC) initiative could be used to avoid outbreaks of monkeypox and Lassa fever. The meeting, held in Vienna, Austria, on the sidelines of the IAEA Board of Governors meeting, was organized to assist countries in using nuclear and related techniques to detect, mitigate, and understand the behavior of the viruses.

“It is important that we are reacting quickly, as things happen. I am happy that concrete work is being carried out on something before it becomes a very difficult problem,” said IAEA director general Rafael Mariano Grossi as he opened the one-day summit.

Using the “New math”: Artificial intelligence and machine learning applications for the nuclear power industry

June 10, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear NewsCurtis Smith, Ahmad Al Rashdan, and Vivek Agarwal

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are helping scientists, engineers, regulators, and plant decision makers in their research and development of clean energy production to achieve a net-zero carbon footprint. While this science is new in terms of actual applications, it is fostering innovation in a variety of domains, from material discovery and qualification to advanced reactor design to supporting efficiencies in current power plants and transforming the usability of nuclear power plant control rooms.

What is a nuclear professional?

June 10, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear NewsSteven P. Nesbit

Steven P. Nesbit

Years ago, my then boss was trying to convince me to accept an undesirable (to me) assignment, and he asked me, “Aren’t you a professional?” I wasn’t quite sure how to answer. By the textbook definition, a nuclear professional is someone who gets paid to do a job in the nuclear field. True as far as it goes, but the term means much more to me.

NUWARD SMR to be test case for European regulatory review

June 10, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
Concept art for the NUWARD plant. (Image: TechnicAtome)

French utility giant EDF has announced that its NUWARD small modular reactor design will be the case study for a European early joint regulatory review led by the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN). Also participating in the review process will be the Czech Republic’s State Office for Nuclear Safety (SUJB) and Finland’s Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK).

Lake Barrett’s reality-grounded perspective on Netflix’s drama Meltdown: Three Mile Island

June 10, 2022, 7:00AMANS News

In an ANS-sponsored online event held on June 8, independent energy consultant Lake Barrett shared his perspective on the Netflix docudrama series Meltdown: Three Mile Island. Barrett, who was the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s on-site director and senior federal official for the cleanup of the TMI Unit 2 accident in the early 1980s, countered inaccuracies in the series during an interview with ANS Executive Director/CEO Craig Piercy.

ANS names Annual Meeting award winners, two new Fellows

June 9, 2022, 3:00PMANS News

The American Nuclear Society 2022 Annual Meeting starts next week in Anaheim, Calif., and will run through June 16. ANS has named the recipients of five awards that will be presented at the meeting, as well as two new Fellows, who will be honored during the opening plenary session. Additionally, over a dozen presidential citations will be awarded during the president’s special session at the meeting.

BWXT wins Project Pele contract to supply U.S.'s first microreactor

June 9, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News
Artist’s rendering of BWXT’s Project Pele transportable reactor modules arriving for set up and operation. (Image: BWXT)

BWX Technologies, Inc., will deliver the first microreactor in the United States under a contract awarded by the U.S. Department of Defense Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO), the company announced today. BWXT will have two years to build a transportable microreactor prototype to the SCO’s Project Pele specifications and deliver it to Idaho National Laboratory for testing under a cost-type contract valued at about $300 million.

U.S., Canadian regulators complete IMSR technical review

June 9, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
Computer rendering of an IMSR400 plant. (Image: Terrestrial Energy)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission have completed a first joint technical review of Terrestrial Energy’s Integral Molten Salt Reactor, the company announced earlier this week.

The IMSR was selected in December 2019 to be the first advanced non–light water nuclear reactor technology to be studied under an August 2019 NRC/CNSC memorandum of cooperation aimed at enhancing regulatory effectiveness through collaborative work on technical reviews of advanced reactor and small modular reactor technologies.

Canada demonstrates engineered barrier system for SNF disposal

June 9, 2022, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
A modified forklift with a customized handling attachment is used to move spent fuel containers and their heavy bentonite clay housings. It can move autonomously or be manually operated remotely from outside the room, as needed. (Photo: NWMO)

Canada’s Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) has announced that it has successfully completed a full-scale demonstration of the engineered barriers that are designed to contain and isolate Canada’s spent nuclear fuel in a deep geological repository.

Savannah River Site uses passive system to remove groundwater contaminants

June 8, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News
SRNS environmental engineers Bryce Garner (left) and Adam Willey (center) ask questions of lead operator Daniel Ferrell (right), from field services contractor Cascade Environmental, as he describes how equipment injects oil and iron into the Savannah River Site’s groundwater. (Photo: DOE)

In this week’s “EM Update,” the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) reports that its contractor Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS) has successfully reduced degreasing solvents in the aquifer beneath the Savannah River Site in South Carolina using a technology that injects a form of iron and oil into groundwater.

“The oil attracts the Cold War[–era] cleaning solvents while the iron degrades and neutralizes the contamination,” said Shannan Lucero, SRNS manager for area closure projects.

Clean hydrogen energy from nuclear power is having a good week

June 8, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News
A depiction of an electrolyzer from Bloom Energy. (Photo: Bloom Energy)

Using nuclear power technology to produce clean hydrogen is getting a visibility boost as the Department of Energy hosts a virtual three-day (June 6–8) Annual Merit Review and Peer Evaluation Meeting on the agency’s efforts to accelerate clean hydrogen production. On June 6, the DOE announced a notice of intent (NOI) to fund the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s $8 billion program to develop regional clean hydrogen hubs (H2Hubs) and the launch of a new Hydrogen Shot Incubator Prize that seeks “disruptive technologies” to reduce the cost of clean hydrogen production. That same day, Westinghouse Electric Company and Bloom Energy Corp. (a maker of solid oxide electrolyzer technology) announced a letter of intent to develop electrolyzers for use in the commercial nuclear power market and said they are “well positioned to support the U.S. Department of Energy’s developing hydrogen hubs.”

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.

South Korea produces first dual-purpose used fuel cask for U.S. customer

June 8, 2022, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions
SeAH Besteel’s Gusan plant in South Korea. (Image: SeAH Besteel)

Orano TN Americas and South Korean special steel maker SeAH Besteel last week announced the completion and delivery of the first dual-purpose used nuclear fuel dry storage cask manufactured for a U.S. utility by the Korean company.

Following Orano’s purchase order in September 2019, SeAH Besteel established a mass production system for Orano’s dual-purpose casks in compliance with U.S. and international nuclear standards. Orano TN Americas is a subsidiary of France’s Orano NPS.

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.