No cold feet: ARPA-E wants to explore low-energy nuclear reactions

September 22, 2022, 12:01PMNuclear News

The Department of Energy announced September 13 that it would spend up to $10 million in a bid to settle the question of whether low-energy nuclear reactions (LENR)—historically known as “cold fusion”—could ever become a carbon-free energy source. The funding is part of an Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E) LENR Exploratory Topic designed to “encourage the submission of the most innovative and unconventional ideas in energy technology.”

ANS Grand Challenge: Expedite licensing

September 22, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear NewsNicholas R. Brown

As the largest ultra-low-carbon electricity source in the United States, nuclear energy is a vital pillar of the effort to mitigate climate change. Deployment of advanced nuclear reactor and fuel technologies has been identified as a unique challenge in the production of new nuclear power plants to help maintain and grow our nuclear generating capacity. The licensing of novel nuclear reactor technologies also continues to be a facet of the broader challenge of advanced reactor deployment. When it comes to non–light water reactors and Generation III+ light water reactors, such as the AP-1000 or EPR, deployment is “2X over budget and behind schedule.”1 However, in the case of recent large Generation III+ light water reactors, licensing has not been the rate-limiting step in the reactor deployment timeline, nor has it had a first-order impact on cost. With that said, several significant advances have been made in the expedition of licensing. This article focuses on three areas where progress has been made since this grand challenge was formulated in 2017, with highlights of some examples where the American Nuclear Society has guided or supported this progress.

Hydrogen production coming to Prairie Island

September 22, 2022, 6:55AMNuclear News
The Prairie Island nuclear power plant. (Photo: Xcel Energy)

Clean energy technology firm Bloom Energy has announced plans to install a 240-kW electrolyzer at Xcel Energy’s Prairie Island plant in Red Wing, Minn., to demonstrate the benefits of producing hydrogen with nuclear power. (One of Xcel’s two nuclear plants, Prairie Island houses twin 550-MWe pressurized water reactors.)

Holtec to provide spent fuel canisters to six Spanish reactors

September 21, 2022, 3:14PMRadwaste Solutions
Spain’s nuclear power plants are to use Holtec’s HI-STORM spent fuel storage technology. (Image: Holtec)

Holtec International announced that its flagship HI-STORM Multi-Purpose Canister (MPC) spent fuel storage technology was selected by Spain’s national company Enresa for a fleet of six nuclear power reactors at four plant sites in the country. Equipos Nucleares S.A. (ENSA), a Cantabria-based manufacturer of equipment for the Spanish nuclear fleet, was named a consortium partner with Holtec in the order, which was conducted under European Union procurement rules.

NRC chairman visits ANS student section at University of Puerto Rico

September 21, 2022, 12:00PMANS News
Highlights from Chairman Hanson’s visit with the ANS student section at UPRM. (Photos: NRC/Twitter)

The American Nuclear Society student section at the University of Puerto Rico—Mayagüez (UPRM) recently welcomed Christopher T. Hanson, chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. While at UPRM, Hanson met with graduate students conducting nuclear-related research, as well as with deans, professors, and other university officials. He also delivered a speech, “Preparing to Regulate the Nuclear Technology of the Future.”

Curtiss-Wright, X-energy team up to advance Xe-100 deployment

September 21, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

Curtiss-Wright Corporation and small modular reactor developer X-energy have announced the signing of a preferred strategic supplier agreement to advance the design and deployment of the latter’s Xe-100 SMR.

New method produces curium crystals for research in a radiochemistry first

September 21, 2022, 7:00AMNuclear News
A new compound of curium photographed at LLNL during crystallography experiments. Crystals of this curium compound are uncolored under ambient light but glow an intense pink-red when exposed to ultraviolet light. (Image: LLNL/Deblonde)

Scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Oregon State University (OSU) have developed a promising new method to isolate and study some of the rarest elements on Earth. Focused first on curium, they have identified three new complexes containing curium ions and revealed the molecules’ 3D structures, as well as previously unknown features.

Advanced reactor licensing and the path to cost certainty

September 20, 2022, 3:13PMNuclear NewsMike Laufer

Laufer

Developing a first-­of-­a-­kind reactor is a daunting endeavor. To be successful, advanced reactor designers need to achieve cost certainty by delivering a safe and affordable product at the promised cost. To meet this goal, Kairos Power structured its approach around four key strategies: 1) achieving technology certainty through a rapid iterative approach; 2) achieving construction certainty by demonstrating the ability to build it; 3) achieving licensing certainty by proving Kairos can license it; and 4) achieving supply chain certainty by vertically integrating critical capabilities. By mitigating risk in these four key areas, Kairos Power is confident that it will get true cost certainty for our future products.

The third prong in Kairos’s strategy—achieving licensing certainty—was a key driver in the decision to build the Hermes low-­power demonstration reactor, and it remains a major workstream as the company’s construction permit application (CPA) undergoes review by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Licensing a new nuclear technology is no small challenge, and there are multiple approaches companies can take. Here’s a look at how we at Kairos are approaching it.

Neutron detection contract signed for NuScale’s SMR

September 20, 2022, 12:08PMNuclear News
Members of the Paragon Energy Solutions, Reuter-Stokes, and NuScale Power teams during a recent visit to Reuter-Stokes’ global headquarters in Twinsburg, Ohio. (Photo: Reuter-Stokes)

Paragon Energy Solutions and Reuter-Stokes have signed a contract to design and manufacture neutron monitoring detectors for small modular reactor developer NuScale Power.

ANS sponsors energy poverty panel during Clean Energy Ministerial in Pittsburgh

September 20, 2022, 9:34AMANS News

The American Nuclear Society is hosting the side event panel "Advanced Nuclear Reactors: A Possible Solution to Global Warming and Global Energy Poverty" at the Global Clean Energy Action Forum’s Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) . The event will be held at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, Pa., on Thursday, September 22, from 1:45 to 2:45 p.m. EDT.

The event is open to all CEM participants.

Atkins breaks ground on new technology center near Hanford Site

September 20, 2022, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions

Atkins Nuclear Secured Holding Corporation, a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group, celebrated the start of construction on its new, $20 million, state-of-the-art Atkins Technology Center (ATC) with a ground-breaking ceremony held on September 13 in Richland, Wash. Located near the Department of Energy’s Hanford nuclear reservation, the facility will be adjacent to the existing Atkins Engineering Laboratory.

NREL sees path to triple nuclear capacity by 2035, but there’s more to the story

September 19, 2022, 4:58PMNuclear News
(Photo: DOE)

Examining Supply-Side Options to Achieve 100% Clean Electricity by 2035 was written by research staff at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, so its reliance on solar and wind energy to decarbonize the grid by 2035 is not surprising. But that’s a big ask for any variable energy technology, especially if the nation’s largest source of clean power—nuclear energy—is relegated to a supporting role. Massive additions of solar and wind energy on the order of 2 TW would require a supporting infrastructure of new transmission lines, as well as batteries and hydrogen for daily and seasonal energy storage that would drive demand and capacity requirements higher.

Vit Plant delayed: Another defeat for cleaning up nuclear waste at Hanford

September 19, 2022, 12:37PMNuclear NewsJames Conca

The Hanford tanks, on which building began in 1943, were never supposed to hold waste for many decades. If grouting and disposal had occurred according to plans from the 1980s, this waste would already be in the ground and we would have saved almost $100 billion. (Photo: DOE)

At the end of June, a federal judge approved, with the agreement of the Washington State Department of Ecology, a request to push back the deadline 20 months for beginning nuclear waste treatment at the $17 billion Waste Treatment and Immobilization (Vit) Plant at the Hanford Site because of pandemic-related delays. The Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste program is the Department of Energy’s plan to start treating low-level radioactive waste first at the Vit Plant and then start treating high-level radioactive waste sometime in the 2030s.

This is the fifth delay granted by the court for the project, which should have begun operations in 2007. In one sense, this delay is good, since turning LLW into glass through vitrification is about as smart as singing into the wind. The chemistry of this waste makes it much better suited to grouting, a treatment used by everyone else in the United States and the world.

The world watched as Queen Elizabeth II welcomed the U.K.’s Atomic Age

September 19, 2022, 9:11AMANS Nuclear Cafe
Queen Elizabeth II visits Calder Hall for its ceremonial opening in 1956. (Photo: U.K. Nuclear Decommissioning Authority)

As citizens of the United Kingdom and others around the world mourn the death of Queen Elizabeth II, many have reflected on how the world has changed during the seven decades of the queen’s reign—the same decades that saw the rise of civilian nuclear power.

Calder Hall was already under construction at the Sellafield site in West Cumbria when Princess Elizabeth became queen in 1953. Queen Elizabeth traveled to the site in October 1956 and declared, in a televised ceremony, that “It is with pride that I now open Calder Hall, Britain’s first atomic power station.” Watch the fanfare in a historical clip uploaded to YouTube by Sellafield Ltd below.

Social license in the deployment of advanced nuclear technology

September 16, 2022, 3:47PMNuclear NewsJessica R. Lovering and Todd R. Allen

Advanced reactor developers are designing many new nuclear energy products, targeting commercial demonstration before 2030. These products aim to provide different products and grid services beyond what is provided by the first generations of commercial nuclear plants, namely, gigawatt-scale electricity production. These reactors are intended for deployment in many novel scenarios, including being closer to population centers. They will be sited in governmental processes that encourage far more public participation than was possible when many of the existing plants were sited and built in the 1960s and 1970s. This means that community engagement and approval likely will be critical for project success. This article, which discusses this issue of social license, is an adaptation of “Social license in the deployment of advanced nuclear technology,” published in Energies in 2021.1 A more detailed discussion can be found in the original article.

IAEA demands Russian exit from Zaporizhzhia

September 16, 2022, 9:29AMNuclear News
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

The International Atomic Energy Agency’s board of governors has adopted a resolution calling for an immediate end to the Russian occupation of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. According to a report from Reuters, the 35-member board voted 26–2 yesterday in favor of the resolution, with seven abstentions. The two “no” votes were cast, unsurprisingly, by Russia and China, while abstentions came from Burundi, Egypt, India, Pakistan, Senegal, South Africa, and Vietnam.

NuScale makes further headway with SMR plans for Poland

September 16, 2022, 6:55AMNuclear News
From left: NuScale president and CEO John Hopkins, Poland prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki, KGHM CEO Marcin Chludziński, and Ludwik Pieńkowski from AGH University of Science and Technology view a model of NuScale’s SMR technology. (Photo: Business Wire)

Portland, Ore.–based NuScale Power and KGHM Polska Miedź S.A. have signed the first task order and a statement of commencement to begin work under an agreement signed in February to initiate deployment in Poland of NuScale’s small modular reactor technology, the American firm announced this week. The task order was inked September 7 at the 31st Economic Forum, held September 6–8 in Karpacz, Poland.

Cue ominous chords and fade in from black . . .

September 15, 2022, 2:52PMANS News

It’s 1976, and you’re watching TV when a public service announcement from the American Nuclear Society airs, showing the earth being squeezed dry of its last drops of oil by a giant hand as it urges more “safe, reliable, and economical” nuclear power plants. The narrator’s last words, intoned over a fading sunset, still ring true today: “Our world is hungry for energy, and we must move ahead to preserve our future. If we don’t, we could find ourselves in the dark ages of the seventies.”