California lawmakers, governor at odds over Diablo Canyon funding

June 11, 2024, 3:01PMNuclear News
Gov. Gavin Newsom visits Diablo Canyon in this 2023 photo (Source: Governor’s office)

In budget discussions conducted last week, the California legislature rejected a $400 million budget item to help keep the state’s sole remaining nuclear plant operational.

Diablo Canyon—owned by Pacific Gas & Electric—has been the subject of much debate in California. To meet grid demands during a record hot summer in 2022, Gov. Gavin Newsom had cut a deal to give $1.4 billion to support continued operations at the 2,200-MWe nuclear facility.

Florida mosquitoes targeted by nuclear-derived sterile insect technique

June 11, 2024, 12:01PMNuclear News
Release of sterile mosquitoes on Captiva Island in Lee County, Fla. (Photo: LCMCD)

Sterile mosquitoes are being used to reduce the population of insecticide-resistant Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in Fort Myers, Fla., which can spread viruses including dengue, yellow fever, Zika, and chikungunya.

DOE receives AAR approval of its spent fuel transport railcar

June 11, 2024, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
The Atlas railcar carries a test load simulating a shipment of spent nuclear fuel. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy announced last week that the Association of American Railroads has certified its Atlas railcar system to operate on all major freight railroads in the United States.

Watch a video of the Atlas railcar development here.

TerraPower breaks ground on SMR project in Wyoming

June 11, 2024, 7:00AMNuclear News
Craig Piercy, ANS Executive Director/CEO (third from left), and ANS Board member Jess Gehin, associate laboratory director for nuclear science & technology at Idaho National Laboratory (second from left), join other officials at the ceremonial groundbreaking for TerraPower’s Natrium reactor demonstration project.

A ceremony in Wyoming yesterday marked the official start of construction of TerraPower’s planned Natrium reactor demonstration project.

While currently awaiting final review from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, TerraPower is moving forward with nonnuclear construction work at a retired coal plant near Kemmerer, Wyo. The groundbreaking brought together TerraPower leaders, government officials, Natrium project partners, industry advocates, and community supporters.

Past DOE officials reflect on their tenures and future of nuclear industry

June 10, 2024, 3:04PMANS News

At the “Past Department of Energy Nuclear Energy Officials Roundtable” webinar on May 20, the American Nuclear Society gathered six past assistant secretaries for the Office of Nuclear Energy for a very special discussion. The group of stellar leaders, who have shaped the current state of innovation and growth around nuclear energy, shared insights from their time as NE-1 and their perspectives about where we must go from here.

New fusion energy strategies and partnerships announced at White House event

June 10, 2024, 12:00PMNuclear News

Just one week after the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy hosted a summit on domestic nuclear deployment, they filled a room again on June 6 for a livestreamed event cohosted with the Department of Energy to announce a new DOE fusion energy strategy and new public-private partnership programs, and to hear directly from stakeholders—including scientists, private fusion companies, investors, and end users—during panel discussions on fusion science and technology progress and the path to fusion energy commercialization.

DOE announces first clean energy project for INL

June 10, 2024, 9:31AMRadwaste Solutions
The Materials and Fuels Complex at INL. (Photo: INL)

The Department of Energy will enter into lease negotiations with two solar energy developers for 400 megawatts of solar electricity generation within the Idaho National Laboratory site. Announced on June 5, the projects are the first proposed projects selected under the department’s Cleanup to Clean Energy initiative, an effort to repurpose parts of DOE-owned lands—portions of which were previously used in the nation’s nuclear weapons program—into sites of clean-energy generation, including for solar, geothermal, wind, and nuclear.

Oklo’s Diané presents at Community of Practice

June 10, 2024, 7:00AMANS News

The American Nuclear Society’s Risk-informed, Performance-based Principles and Policy Committee (RP3C) held another Community of Practice (CoP) on April 26. For this event, the committee welcomed Mory Diané of Oklo. RP3C chair N. Prasad Kadambi led with a brief introduction before Diané shared Oklo's risk-informed, performance-based (RIPB) approach to seismic design categorization and seismic siting characterization.

Diané, a licensing manager with Oklo, is a structural engineer with a background in civil engineering

Words from Westinghouse: The nuclear supply chain impacts and challenges

June 7, 2024, 3:04PMNuclear NewsGuest Contributor
A cut-away view of Westinghouse’s AP300 reactor. (Image: Westinghouse)

Power generation from nuclear fission as a clean and stable source of electricity has secured the interest of policymakers and industry leaders around the globe. Last fall, the United States spearheaded a pledge at COP28 to get countries to agree to triple nuclear capacity worldwide, and recently the members of the Group of 7 (G7) nations that currently use nuclear power have reaffirmed their pledges to invest in that power source to cut carbon emissions.

As of this writing, U.S. policymakers are trying to make good on that promise by passing legislation to support nuclear power, funding the domestic fuel supply chain, and working to pass the ADVANCE Act. On top of the support from Washington, D.C., power-hungry industries like data centers and chemical engineering are looking to secure stable, carbon-free power directly from power plants.

Curtiss-Wright acquires Ultra Energy

June 7, 2024, 9:30AMNuclear News

North Carolina-based Curtiss-Wright has entered into an agreement to acquire Ultra Energy, a subsidiary of the U.K.-headquartered Ultra Electronics Holdings. Ultra Energy is a designer and manufacturer of reactor protection systems, neutron monitoring systems, radiation monitoring systems, and temperature and pressure sensors. The $200 million deal is expected to close this year in the third quarter, subject to U.K. regulatory approval.

Sometimes when the earth moves, not everyone notices

June 7, 2024, 7:01AMNuclear NewsCraig Piercy

Craig Piercy

On August 23, 2011, at 1:51 p.m., I was standing next to Matt Milazzo, a former ANS Congressional Fellow, on the sidewalk of a high-traffic D.C. street. We were saying goodbye after a pleasant lunch. At that exact moment, a seismic wave from a 5.9 magnitude earthquake in Mineral, Va.—one that would be felt as far away as Canada and cause hundreds of millions of dollars in damage—rippled under my feet. Perhaps it felt too familiar, like a heavy truck passing by, or maybe the oscillation peaked just as I was turning to walk back to my office. Either way, I didn’t feel a thing. The largest East Coast earthquake in 100 years, and I missed it. Completely. It wasn’t until I saw the stunned faces of my colleagues and a few picture frames scattered on the floor of my office that I understood the gravity of the moment.

Today, as I wrap my head around the stunningly large amount of energy that will be required to support advanced data center and AI functions in the coming years, I get the same feeling—that something big and consequential has happened in my larger world and I have been slow to perceive the magnitude of it.

Xcimer raises $100 million to invest in inertial fusion laser tech

June 6, 2024, 3:00PMNuclear News
Xcimer Energy’s headquarters in Denver, Colo. (Photo: Xcimer Energy)

Xcimer Energy announced June 4 that it has raised $100 million in Series A financing for a new facility in Denver, Colo., that will host a prototype laser system with “the world’s largest nonlinear optical pulse compression system.” As a private fusion developer, Xcimer wants to “extend the proven science of inertial fusion to industrial scale” with the help of that laser system and “key technologies and innovations from multiple fields.”

Army solicits bids for microreactors to site at military bases

June 6, 2024, 12:01PMNuclear News

The U.S. Army is asking nuclear companies to submit their proposals for microreactors that can be commissioned at military bases to provide clean, reliable power at two domestic military sites.

The bid solicitation window is short—just two weeks—but the army is asking for very high-level proposals from advanced nuclear companies who are ready to jump into action. Following the initial submission period, top contenders for the project will be invited back for pitch sessions; full contracts then will be negotiated.

The future has more in store for nuclear

June 6, 2024, 7:04AMNuclear NewsKen Petersen

Ken Petersen

Big news as I write this, my last column as ANS president: Legislation has been passed that will ban the importation of uranium from Russia (though waivers can be used in certain circumstances to continue imports through 2027). This ban has been discussed since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. I am sure all U.S. utilities have followed their risk-management policies.

With two years to plan, appropriate-use waivers, and access to American Assured Fuel Supply, there should not be any disruption to domestic reactor operations. The ban will force the United States and our Western allies to be independent and stronger. Congress has helped by providing $2.72 billion to support new domestic enrichment capacity. The challenge now is for the Department of Energy to turn this into actual new capacity as quickly as possible.

New model describes how tokamak shape affects plasma stability

June 5, 2024, 3:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe
Image: Kyle Palmer and Michael Livingston/PPPL Communications Department

A new theoretical model about stabilizing plasma in tokamak fusion reactors is described in three papers from a study that was led by research physicist Jason Parisi of Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. Two papers—“Kinetic-ballooning-limited pedestals in spherical tokamak plasmas” and “Stability and transport of gyrokinetic critical pedestals”—appear in the International Atomic Energy Agency journal Nuclear Fusion. The other paper—“Kinetic-ballooning-bifurcation in tokamak pedestals across shaping and aspect-ratio”—appears in Physics of Plasmas.

Urgent imperative: The crucial role of near-term nuclear deployment

June 5, 2024, 12:00PMNuclear NewsJohn Wagner

John Wagner

As advocates for the environment, national security, and U.S. prosperity, and as believers that the substantial global expansion of nuclear energy is essential to these interests, let’s take a moment to recognize how far we have come.

In recent years, much has changed. Public opinion polls show increasingly broad support for nuclear energy, which has bipartisan and bicameral support in Congress. The U.S. is on the cusp of achievements that could usher in a new era of nuclear energy and reestablish U.S. global leadership. The prevailing question is no longer whether we need nuclear energy, but rather, how much more nuclear power do we need, how can we enable first movers, and how quickly can we deploy new reactors.

U.S. represented at international meeting on nuclear security

June 5, 2024, 10:34AMUpdated June 5, 2024, 9:30AMNuclear News

During the 2024 International Conference on Nuclear Security (ICONS) in May, representatives from the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration discussed U.S. nuclear security priorities, noted their achievements and those of U.S. partners, and explained how to tackle the security challenges of today and tomorrow.

DIII-D gets supercomputing access through the DOE’s high-speed data network

June 5, 2024, 7:00AMNuclear News
The DIII-D Superfacility team. (Photo: General Atomics)

Researchers at the DIII-D National Fusion Facility, the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), and the Energy Sciences Network (ESnet) are teaming up to make the high-performance computing (HPC) powers of NERSC available to DIII-D researchers through ESnet—a high-speed data network. Their collaboration, described in a May 29 news release, in effect boosts the computing power behind DIII-D’s diagnostic tools to make more data from fusion experiments available to researchers at DIII-D in San Diego and to the global fusion research community.