Nuclear museum to host virtual event on gay Manhattan Project scientist

June 23, 2022, 3:03PMANS Nuclear Cafe

John Ibson

In an era where being openly gay could get you blacklisted, how was one scientist able to keep his high-security clearance level with the Manhattan Project and beyond? To find out, attend the virtual event “A ‘Lavender Lad’ with a Security Clearance: A Gay Scientist and Homophobia in Midcentury America” on June 24 at 4:00 p.m. (EDT). The National Museum of Nuclear Science and History is sponsoring the event and the featured speaker is John Ibson, professor emeritus of American studies at California State University–Fullerton.

The webinar, which requires advance registration, is free for members of the museum. Members can obtain a promo code by emailing the museum’s membership associate, Jennifer Thompson. For others, the registration fee is $10.

Orano, TerraPower get vouchers to study LEU+ transport and chlorine chemistry

June 23, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News
A rendering of the MCRE. (Image: Southern Company)

The Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) awarded vouchers to Orano Federal Services and TerraPower on June 22, giving them access to specialized facilities and expertise at Department of Energy national laboratories. Orano is partnering with Oak Ridge National Laboratory on a new technical study that updates the physical chemistry limits for the safe transport of uranium hexafluoride (UF6) gas enriched up to 10 percent in existing shipping containers, and TerraPower is turning to Los Alamos National Laboratory’s neutron testing capabilities to measure the properties of chlorine isotopes and determine how they will behave in the Molten Chloride Reactor Experiment (MCRE).

U.S. Supreme Court rules against Hanford workers’ comp law

June 23, 2022, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
An aerial view of Hanford’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant in 2021. (Photo: Bechtel National)

The U.S. Supreme Court on June 21 struck down a Washington state workers’ compensation law that was designed to make it easier for workers at the Department of Energy’s Hanford Site to receive compensation benefits. The court, by unanimous decision, found that the law violates the U.S. Supremacy Clause and discriminates against the federal government and its contractors.

Located near Richland, Wash., the Hanford Site produced plutonium for the U.S. weapons program for more than 40 years and is currently undergoing a massive radiological cleanup mission involving around 10,000 workers.

U.K. fusion energy projects get regulatory clarity to speed deployment

June 23, 2022, 7:01AMNuclear News
The Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP), shown here, is a government-backed prototype fusion energy plant planned for operation in the U.K. in the early 2040s. (Image: UKAEA)

Future fusion energy facilities will continue to be regulated by the Environment Agency (EA) and Health & Safety Executive (HSE), the U.K. government announced June 20, and existing law on nuclear regulations will be amended to exclude fusion energy facilities from nuclear fission regulatory and licensing requirements. The move was announced by the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) with the expectation it would provide “clarity to developers of prototype/demonstration fusion facilities currently being planned to support rapid commercialization.”

House Appropriations panel approves $56 billion energy spending bill

June 22, 2022, 3:01PMNuclear News

A draft fiscal year 2023 Energy and Water Development bill, released Monday by the House Appropriations Committee, received the imprimatur of the Energy and Water Development (EWD) Subcommittee yesterday and now moves to the full committee for consideration.

The measure, totaling $56.275 billion—$3.4 billion more than the FY 2022 enacted level—includes funding for the Department of Energy, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, and a number of independent agencies, including the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Nuclear power’s moonshot: Three teams have one year to design a lunar power reactor

June 22, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
A conceptual illustration of a fission surface power system. (Image: NASA)

Three teams have been picked to design a fission surface power system that NASA could deploy on the moon by the end of the decade, NASA and Idaho National Laboratory announced today. A fission surface power project sponsored by NASA in collaboration with the Department of Energy and INL is targeting the demonstration of a 40-kWe reactor built to operate for at least 10 years on the moon, enabling lunar exploration under NASA’s Artemis program. Twelve-month contracts valued at $5 million each are going to Lockheed Martin (partnered with BWX Technologies and Creare), Westinghouse (partnered with Aerojet Rocketdyne), and IX (a joint venture of Intuitive Machines and X-energy, partnered with Maxar and Boeing).

Tuberville’s legislation would stop destruction of thorium stockpiles

June 22, 2022, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe
Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama.

Legislation known as the Thorium Energy Security Act, introduced in Congress last month by U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R., Ala.), would put a halt to the destruction of U.S. stockpiles of uranium-233 and instead would foster its integration into the development of thorium molten salt–cooled reactors, Newsweek reported last week. The act has been referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

CAST awarded WIPP transportation contract

June 21, 2022, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions
A CAST Specialty Transportation truck loaded with TRUPACT-II shipping containers at WIPP. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) has awarded CAST Specialty Transportation a contract to provide transportation services for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, the DOE’s repository for defense-generated transuranic (TRU) waste near Carlsbad, N.M.

Barakah-3 license issued; fuel loading starts

June 21, 2022, 12:01PMNuclear News
Barakah-3 (Photo: Nawah Energy Company)

The United Arab Emirates’ Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) has issued the operating license for the Barakah nuclear plant’s Unit 3 reactor, the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation announced yesterday. In addition, following receipt of the license, ENEC subsidiary Nawah Energy Company began the process of loading fuel assemblies into the unit, according to the announcement.

To aid Diablo Canyon, feds propose changes to nuclear credit program

June 21, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

The Department of Energy has issued a proposed guidance amendment for its $6 billion Civil Nuclear Credit (CNC) Program in response to a letter last month from California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration suggesting “a few minor adjustments” to the program’s guidance to address “the unique circumstances” of the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant. (Previously a supporter of the premature 2025 closure of the Avila Beach, Calif., facility, Newsom told the Los Angeles Times in late April that his office would look into using the CNC Program to keep the plant in operation beyond its scheduled closure date, citing climate change and the threat of power shortages in the state.)

The ATR will test thorium-HALEU fuel pellets: What’s involved?

June 21, 2022, 7:00AMNuclear News
(Photo: Clean Core Thorium Energy)

The Advanced Test Reactor (ATR) at Idaho National Laboratory will soon be irradiating fuel pellets containing thorium and high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) developed by Clean Core Thorium Energy for use in pressurized heavy water reactors (PHWRs). Clean Core announced on June 14 that it will proceed with irradiation testing and qualification under an agreement with the Department of Energy; the plans have been in the works since at least 2020, when the DOE filed a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) disclosure for the work.

Olkiluoto-3 start pushed to end of year

June 20, 2022, 3:05PMNuclear News
Finland’s Olkiluoto-3. (Photo: TVO)

Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (TVO), owner and operator of Finland’s Olkiluoto nuclear power plant, has announced a further delay to the start of regular electricity generation at Unit 3. Commercial operation is now projected to begin this December, rather than the previously announced September. A report from Reuters puts the date at December 10.

According to TVO, material that had detached from the steam guide plates was found in the turbine’s steam reheater last month, requiring inspection and repair work.

Universities get $61 million for 74 nuclear research and infrastructure awards

June 20, 2022, 12:04PMNuclear News

Advanced reactor coolants, consent-based siting, and offshore nuclear production of hydrogen are just a few of the topics included among the 74 nuclear science and technology projects awarded more than $61 million by the Department of Energy on June 17. The Nuclear Energy University Program awards, Integrated Research Projects, Nuclear Science User Facilities awards, and Infrastructure awards will support nuclear technology development, infrastructure improvements, and career opportunities at more than 40 U.S. universities in 29 states.

China’s prototype technology described as step toward energy independence

June 20, 2022, 9:27AMANS Nuclear Cafe
Roadmap for the China Initiative Accelerator-Driven System project development. (Image: Zhijun Wang/CAS)

Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Modern Physics are making strides with their China Initiative Accelerator-Driven System (CiADS) technology, which is being developed to get more life out of used nuclear fuel. Defense One, an online news source that focuses on “the future of U.S. defense and national security,” describes the prototype system as a step in moving China toward energy independence and advancing that nation’s “global leadership in climate-friendly technology.”

French ambassador visits General Atomics to talk ITER and more

June 20, 2022, 7:03AMNuclear News
Ambassador Philippe Étienne (sixth from left) and staff from the Consulate General of France with senior leaders from General Atomics at the GA Magnet Technologies Center in Los Angeles. In the background are two partially completed ITER central solenoid modules. (Photo: GA)

General Atomics’ Magnet Technologies Center in Poway, Calif., played host last week to French ambassador Philippe Étienne, the company announced June 16. During the visit, which was hosted by Vivek Lall, chief executive of the General Atomics Global Corporation, Étienne viewed ITER central solenoid modules—all destined for shipment to France—in several stages of the fabrication process.

“General Atomics and French organizations have a strong relationship in both the defense and energy sectors, as well as in the unmanned field, that meet both France’s and the United States’ important interests,” Étienne remarked during his visit.

Nuclear energy in infrastructure law

June 17, 2022, 2:55PMNuclear NewsMatt Crozat

President Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) into law in November 2021. Commonly known as the “bipartisan infrastructure bill,” this legislation included significant investments in civilian nuclear energy in the U.S. along with a range of other spending initiatives. The law directs funding to preserve the operation of nuclear plants facing the prospect of early closure, demonstrate new advanced reactors, and explore the ability of nuclear energy to produce hydrogen for other energy applications. Additional incentives to retain and expand the use of nuclear energy are still being considered in Congress, but the IIJA is law, and the Department of Energy is beginning the process of implementing its key provisions.

Join IIT and Fermilab for online workshop on materials research with the Versatile Test Reactor

June 17, 2022, 12:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

The Illinois Institute of Technology and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory are hosting a two-day online workshop exploring overlapping interests in radiation damage and characterization among the nuclear energy and high-energy physics communities. The workshop, titled “Radiation Damage in Accelerator Materials and the Potential Use of the Versatile Test Reactor for the Study of Accelerator Materials,” is scheduled for Monday, June 20, and Tuesday, June 21, beginning at 9:00 a.m. (EDT) each day.

Registration is free and can be completed by emailing IIT professor Jeff Terry.

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.