X-energy partners with Maryland for coal-to-nuclear study

June 17, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

The Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) has awarded grants to Rockville, Md.–based X-energy—developer of the Xe-100 small modular reactor—and Frostburg State University for a collaborative study to determine the potential for siting an SMR at a state coal site. A joint analysis of the study’s findings is to be delivered to MEA later this year.

ANS, Breakthrough Institute request Part 53 workshops

June 16, 2022, 2:55PMNuclear News

ANS and the Breakthrough Institute yesterday submitted a letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission regarding the agency’s ongoing efforts to create a regulatory infrastructure for the development and commercialization of advanced reactors, a mandate of the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act, signed into law in January 2019.

ANS Annual Meeting: A new outlook for fusion

June 16, 2022, 12:01PMNuclear News
Session moderator Scott Hsu (left) led a discussion with (from left) Troy Carter, Kathy McCarthy, Artem Smirnov, Satoshi Konishi, and Jane Hotchkiss during an ANS Annual Meeting executive session on “The New Fusion Outlook.”

A “bold decadal plan” to accelerate fusion research, development, and demonstration in partnership with the private sector emerged from a March 2022 White House Fusion Summit and inspired the June 14 ANS Annual Meeting executive session titled “The New Fusion Outlook.” Moderator Scott Hsu, who is leaving a role as a program director for the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E) to become a senior adviser to the DOE’s undersecretary for science and innovation as well as lead fusion coordinator for the DOE, ably led a panel of fusion stakeholders representing universities, national laboratories, private fusion companies, and public policy and communication. The discussion intended to bring attendees with fission experience up to speed on the rapidly accelerating area of fusion energy and explore how the fusion energy community can work toward a unique path for fusion energy regulation and public engagement.

“New Rules” for nuclear S&E students

June 16, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear NewsCraig Piercy

Craig Piercy

In April, I had the honor of speaking at the “Networking Dinner” held during the 2022 ANS Student Conference at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. There’s something uniquely wonderful about 450 nuclear science and engineering students assembled in one place, seeing each other in person after two years on Zoom, trying to figure out where they are going in life. However, combine that enthusiasm with a long, narrow, A/V-challenged ballroom, and what you get is a genuine acoustical nightmare.

In particular, many people in the room couldn’t hear my “New Rules” for nuclear S&E students, modeled after the segment on Real Time with Bill Maher, and they came up to me afterward asking for a written version of the “rules.” Well, here they are, reconstructed from my notes, slightly polished, and offered with no guarantee of accuracy. It helps to start each by saying “New Rule!”


Feinstein joins Diablo defenders

June 16, 2022, 7:24AMANS Nuclear Cafe


Although previously a supporter of Diablo Canyon’s early closure, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein took to the pages of the Sacramento Bee yesterday to endorse life extension for the state’s sole operating nuclear power plant.

Citing projected electricity shortfalls in California due to the effects of climate change, Feinstein writes that “Pacific Gas and Electric Company should reconsider its decision to close Diablo Canyon by 2025. The utility should get the plant relicensed instead, retiring it once the state can replace its production with clean sources.”

The senator continues: “I remain concerned about the lack of long-term storage for spent nuclear fuel and am working to develop better solutions. But at this point, keeping Diablo Canyon open and producing carbon-free energy is more important.”

EU committees register disapproval of EC plan to label nuclear “green”

June 15, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News

Two leading committees of the European Parliament have objected to adding nuclear and natural gas to the list of “green” technologies covered by the EU taxonomy—the classification system used by the European Union to guide private investment toward environmentally sustainable economic projects.

ANS Annual Meeting: Moving the needle on the grand challenges

June 15, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News

The President’s Special Session of the 2022 American Nuclear Society Annual Meeting in Anaheim, Calif., offered members a chance to revisit the Society’s Grand Nuclear Challenges. Introduced in 2017 and put forth by the members and the ANS professional divisions, the nine challenges identify cross-cutting technical issues to be resolved by 2030 to help address the economic, sociological, or political concerns facing nuclear energy.

Bechtel, Toshiba partner on Polish nuclear project

June 15, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
Bechtel’s Ahmet Tokpinar (right) at the MOU signing ceremony with Toshiba executives Yuki Arima (left) and Kentaro Takagi. (Photo: Bechtel)

Engineering, construction, and project management firm Bechtel Corporation last week announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Toshiba America Energy Systems and Toshiba Energy Systems & Solutions to pursue a civil nuclear power plant project in Poland.

ANS Annual Meeting: Nuclear power innovation for decarbonization

June 15, 2022, 7:00AMNuclear News
Panelists (from left) Adam Stein, Jon Ball, Mike Laufer, and Michl Binderbauer during the Breaking Through: Assessing the Current State and Prospects of Nuclear Innovation in the Race to Decarbonize session at the ANS Annual Meeting.

If nuclear innovators are in a race to decarbonize, it is a race with one finish line—affordable, clean, and reliable power—and many ways to get there. Over 40 fission developers and 20 fusion developers are in the running, and while attendees of the June 13 ANS Annual Meeting executive session on Breaking Through: Assessing the Current State and Prospects of Nuclear Innovation in the Race to Decarbonize heard from representatives of just three of those companies, they presented very different designs and deployment approaches, aptly reflecting the broader diversity of nuclear power innovation.

Session chair Adam Stein, director of nuclear energy innovation at the Breakthrough Institute, welcomed representatives from an advanced non–light water reactor developer (Mike Laufer, Kairos Power), a small modular light water reactor developer (Jon Ball, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy), and a fusion power developer (Michl Binderbauer, TAE Technologies). Together they explored the challenge of engineering a significant commercial scale-up of advanced nuclear technology by the end of the decade, tackling questions of cost, schedule, supply chain, regulation, and more.

California climate goals easier to reach with Diablo Canyon, says study

June 14, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News

Extending the operational life of California’s Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant beyond 2025—its scheduled year of retirement—would help the state meet its climate goals more quickly, more reliably, and more cheaply than allowing the facility to close, a new study has found.

According to Retaining Diablo Canyon: Economic, Carbon, and Reliability Implications, keeping the plant on line could not only substantially reduce California’s emissions, natural gas use, and electric power costs, but also help avoid blackouts.

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.