From “never” to now: NIF through the lens of 60 Minutes

January 23, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News
NIF in winter (Photo: LLNL)

“Star Power” is the name 60 Minutes producers gave their interpretation of the recent experiment at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) that achieved fusion ignition and net gain. Views from inside Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory captured by TV cameras and aired Sunday, January 15—of some of NIF’s 192 lasers, banks of capacitors, target assembly labs, and even the remains of the target assembly blasted in the December 5 breakthrough—are well worth the watch for those of us who are unlikely to visit the site in person.

Study favors SMRs for use at future electric truck charging stations

January 23, 2023, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The use of small modular reactors would be an excellent, cost-effective way to recharge electric heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs), such as trucks, according to a recent study published in Applied Energy. The Idaho National Laboratory–funded study was conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan.

DOE increases consent-based siting FOA to $26 million

January 23, 2023, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions

The Department of Energy has increased the funding level for its community engagement on consent-based siting funding opportunity announcement (FOA) from $16 million to $26 million. The DOE first announced it was making funding available to communities interested in learning more about consent-based siting, management of spent nuclear fuel, and interim storage facility siting considerations last September. The FOA follows the DOE’s recent update to its consent-based process for siting an interim storage facility for SNF.

Beyond electricity

January 20, 2023, 3:01PMNuclear NewsMatt Wald

Say “decarbonize” and people think about electricity. But the U.S. industrial sector emits nearly as much carbon dioxide and other global warming gases as the electric sector, which rank at 25 and 24 percent of the problem, respectively, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The commercial and residential sectors account for another 13 percent, the EPA says, most of it for space heating. How do we decarbonize that? More specifically, how do nuclear reactors decarbonize that?

Final rule certifying NuScale SMR design published

January 20, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News

A rendering of a NuScale VOYGR plant. (Image: NuScale Power)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued its final rule certifying NuScale Power’s small modular reactor design, making the Portland, Ore.–based company’s power module the first SMR design to be certified by the agency (and only the seventh reactor design okayed for use in the United States).

Published in yesterday’s Federal Register, the rule goes into effect on February 21, allowing utilities to reference the NuScale design when applying for a combined license to build and operate a reactor. The design will be incorporated as Appendix G to 10 CFR Part 52, Licenses, Certifications, and Approvals for Nuclear Power Plants.

As noted last July—when the commission voted unanimously to approve the design certification and directed staff to issue the final rule—an application for a nuclear power plant combined license that references a certified design does not need to address any of the issues resolved by the design certification rule. Instead, the combined license application and the NRC’s safety review would address any remaining safety and environmental issues for the proposed plant.

EDF, Respect Energy to collaborate on nuclear projects in Poland

January 20, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News
An illustration of EDF’s NUWARD small modular reactor technology. (Image: EDF)

France’s Électricité de France and Polish renewable energy trader Respect Energy have signed a cooperation agreement to develop nuclear power projects in Poland based on EDF’s NUWARD small modular reactor technology, the companies jointly announced last Friday.

California PUC opens vote on Diablo Canyon extension

January 20, 2023, 7:14AMNuclear News
The Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has voted to open a rulemaking to consider extending the lifetime of the 2,289-MW two-unit Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. The plant, which turns 50 this year, is the only remaining operational nuclear power facility in California. It generates nearly 10 percent of the state’s electricity needs.

Nuclear thermal propulsion may finally take off for space flight

January 19, 2023, 3:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

A “resurgence of interest” in nuclear propulsion for space missions is described in a new article authored by science writer Jon Kelvey for the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ (AIAA’s) Aerospace America website. The focus of Kelvey’s article is nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP), which, according to the Department of Energy, “could significantly reduce travel times and carry greater payloads than today’s top chemical rockets­—giving humans a great chance of exploring deep space.”

New head of House Appropriations’ energy panel talks nuclear

January 19, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News


Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R., Tenn.), a strong nuclear energy advocate (his district includes Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Y-12 National Security Complex), was named chair of the House Appropriations Committee’s Energy and Water Development Subcommittee on Monday.

“The work of the Energy and Water Subcommittee is incredibly important to our nation’s long-term energy security and national security,” Fleischmann said in a statement following his selection for the job by Appropriation’s new chairperson, Rep. Kay Granger (R., Texas). “I am excited to find bipartisan common ground to advance important initiatives like modernizing our nation’s nuclear stockpile and advancing groundbreaking nuclear fusion research.”

For more on the congressman’s views on nuclear, check out this interview published yesterday on the Knoxville News Sentinel’s website.

DOE awards cost-shared fusion energy research funds to seven companies

January 19, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News

The Department of Energy’s Office of Science announced $2.3 million in funding on January 17 for 10 fusion energy projects that will allow private companies to work with national laboratories to address specific challenges in fusion energy development. Seven private companies and seven national laboratories are represented in the 10 projects selected for funding, provided through the INFUSE (Innovation Network for Fusion Energy) program. The second-round fiscal year 2022 awards follow a first round of 18 project awards announced in July 2022.

Cell leak delays startup of Idaho’s IWTU

January 19, 2023, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions

Ten days after beginning a heat-up process to prepare for radiological operations at Idaho’s Integrated Waste Treatment Unit (IWTU), operators noticed a small leak of nonradioactive, nonhazardous solids in a cell, resulting in the facility’s shutdown in late December, the Department of Energy announced on January 10.

IAEA support teams sent to bolster Ukrainian power plants

January 18, 2023, 3:00PMNuclear News
The Rivne nuclear power plant in western Ukraine, home to four VVER pressurized water reactors. (Photo: Victor Korniyenko/Wikipedia)

In what it is calling a “major expansion” of its efforts to prevent a severe nuclear accident befalling Ukraine, the International Atomic Energy Agency yesterday announced that it is deploying teams of nuclear security and safety experts this week to the beleaguered nation’s nuclear power plants and the Chernobyl site. (The agency has already stationed a team of experts at Ukraine’s largest nuclear facility, the six-unit Zaporizhzhia plant, which has been under Russian military occupation since last March.)

National lab veteran Goff named to position at DOE-NE

January 18, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News


Michael Goff, a renowned nuclear engineer with decades of management and research experience in national laboratories and the Department of Energy, has been named as the principal deputy assistant secretary for the DOE Office of Nuclear Energy (NE). The DOE announced the appointment on January 17 after a competitive, nationwide selection process.

NE, White House, national labs: Goff, an American Nuclear Society member, had been serving his third term at NE as a senior advisor to the assistant secretary. He had also previously served as the assistant director for nuclear energy and as a senior policy advisor in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. He spent more than 30 years at Idaho National Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory in a number of management and research positions. His research interests have focused on the nuclear fuel cycle, including separations technology, high-level waste development, and safeguards. He has had more than 70 papers published on these and other research topics.

Nebraska to examine potential SMR sites

January 18, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News

Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD), owner and operator of the Cornhusker State’s only operating nuclear power facility—the single-unit Cooper plant—is beginning the process of studying locations that could potentially host small modular nuclear reactors, the utility announced last Friday.

The effort will be financed through L.B. 1014—a state measure approved in April 2022 that appropriates the $1.04 billion allocated to Nebraska from federal pandemic relief funds.

University of Tennessee offers inspiration with inaugural NEDHO Diversity Panel

January 18, 2023, 7:01AMNuclear News
Wes Hines (right), of the University of Tennessee’s Department of Nuclear Engineering, introduces the speakers for a session on nuclear engineering opportunities. (Photos: University of Tennessee)

The University of Tennessee–Knoxville Department of Nuclear Engineering hosted the inaugural Nuclear Engineering Department Heads Organization (NEDHO) Diversity Panel on October 27. Wes Hines, head of the university’s Department of Nuclear Engineering, was the moderator for the event. Invited to the speak were engineering professional Harold T. Conner, environmental scientist Dari Gabriel, and engineering student Jasmine Toy. These three panelists discussed overcoming challenges in their engineering education and/or careers to find success. A common theme that emerged from the conversation was that—in addition to their own determination to succeed—all three panelists benefited from caring adult guidance during their youth, as well as strong support from friends, family, and colleagues as they pursued their goals.

ANS offers glimpse into upcoming CONTE 2023 meeting

January 17, 2023, 3:00PMANS News

The American Nuclear Society will host a special preview of its upcoming training and education conference this Thursday, January 19. The hourlong program on the ANS Conference on Nuclear Training and Education (CONTE 2023) starts at 1:00 p.m. eastern time.

Register now: Hear from some of the top experts who will be presenting at CONTE 2023, which takes place February 6–9 in Amelia Island, Fla.

THOR puts fast reactor fuel to the test in U.S.-Japan TREAT collaboration

January 17, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News
U.S. secretary of energy Jennifer Granholm and Japan’s minister of economy, trade, and industry Yasutoshi Nishimura lead energy discussions on January 9 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: DOE)

Researchers at Idaho National Laboratory have completed initial testing on a newly developed fuel test capsule that is expected to provide crucial performance data for sodium-cooled fast reactors. The Department of Energy announced on January 12 that the series of fuel testing experiments being carried out now at INL’s Transient Reactor Test Facility (TREAT) was developed through a joint project between the United States and Japan.

NAC International acquires Philotechnics

January 17, 2023, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe

NAC International Inc. has completed its acquisition of Philotechnics Ltd., a health physics, radiological services, and waste management company headquartered in Oak Ridge, Tenn., with a satellite facility in San Diego, Calif. The company, now under NAC International ownership, has been renamed NAC Philotechnics Ltd.

Paragon, Thermo Fisher reach licensing agreement on neutron flux monitoring systems

January 16, 2023, 3:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Paragon Energy Solutions and Thermo Fisher Scientific have entered into a definitive agreement that grants Paragon a long-term license for the product line of Thermo Fisher’s Gamma-Metrics neutron flux monitoring systems (NFMS). The agreement allows the legacy nuclear reactor customers of service provider Thermo Fisher to more easily purchase spare parts, upgrades, services, and new systems from Paragon, a leading supplier of safety-related products and components for the nuclear industry. This enhanced purchasing ability reduces the risk of obsolete products being used in the operating nuclear fleet.