A map of the potential reactor siting area (in green) at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska provided during a pre-proposal conference in October 2022. (Graphic: Department of the Air Force)
Plans announced with fanfare sometimes falter in the face of competition or economics. Take NuScale Power’s plans for the Carbon Free Power Project in Idaho: The project was canceled in mid-November by NuScale and its first customer, Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, after nearly a decade. The significance of that news depends on the observer. NuScale intends to focus on other sites and customers. Competitors may redouble efforts to tout their own designs and customer lists. Media found an opportunity to speculate about the future of advanced nuclear. And while many in the nuclear community believe the momentum in favor of new nuclear deployments is continuing—or even increasing as COP28 continues—others would caution against high hopes and point to the persistent obstacles of regulation, supply chain constraints, and financing costs.
The Irigaray central processing plant, in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin. (Photo: Uranium Energy)
TerraPower and Uranium Energy announced today that they have signed a memorandum of understanding to “explore the potential supply of uranium” for TerraPower’s demonstration reactor in Kemmerer, Wyo.
The project team included (from left to right) Jennifer Watkins, Seth Ashby, and Adrian Wagner. (Photo: INL)
Researchers at Idaho National Laboratory in early 2023 manufactured commercial-grade high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) fuel pellets to the specifications of a General Electric accident tolerant fuel design, INL announced November 21. A team working at INL’s Experimental Fuels Facility at the Material and Fuels Complex fabricated about two dozen uranium dioxide pellets using HALEU enriched up to 15 percent U-235.
The Engineering Test Unit at KP Southwest. (Photo: Kairos Power)
In October, staff at Kairos Power’s testing and manufacturing facility in Albuquerque, N. M., began transferring 14 tons of molten fluoride salt coolant into an Engineering Test Unit (ETU)—the largest transfer of FLiBe (a mixture of lithium fluoride and beryllium fluoride) since the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment in 1969.
NEA director general William Magwood (left) and EPRI senior vice president Neil Wilmshurst finalize EPRI support for the joint WISARD project. (Photo: NEA)
The Nuclear Energy Agency has announced a new collaboration with the Electric Power Research Institute on an upcoming project that will focus on waste management strategies for small modular reactors and advanced nuclear energy systems.
Upper-level view of Centrus’s HALEU cascade. (Photo: Centrus Energy)
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is requesting comments on the regulatory basis for a proposed rule for light water reactor fuel designs featuring high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU), including accident tolerant fuel (ATF) designs, and on draft guidance for the environmental evaluation of ATFs containing uranium enriched up to 8 percent U-235. Some of the HALEU feedstock for those LWR fuels and for advanced reactor fuels could be produced within the first Category II fuel facility licensed by the NRC—Centrus Energy’s American Centrifuge Plant in Piketon, Ohio. On September 21, the NRC approved the start of enrichment operations in the plant’s modest 16-machine HALEU demonstration cascade.
The site in Piketon, Ohio, where Oklo plans to deploy two microreactors under an agreement with Southern Ohio Diversification Initiative. (Photo: Oklo)
Oklo Inc. and Centrus Energy announced a new memorandum of understanding on August 28 to support the deployment of Oklo’s microreactor design, dubbed Aurora, near the Piketon, Ohio, site where Centrus plans to operate a high-assay, low-enriched uranium (HALEU) enrichment demonstration under contract to the Department of Energy by the end of the year.
Conceptual art of USNC’s MMR, as proposed for construction on the UIUC campus. (Graphic: USNC)
It’s been almost 35 years since Illinois last added a nuclear power reactor to the grid (Braidwood-2, a pressurized water reactor operated by Constellation, reached commercial operation in October 1988). And it’s been 63 years since a research reactor reached initial criticality at the University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). The university’s TRIGA Mark II started up in August 1960 and was shut down in 1998. For about 25 years, UIUC—the flagship public university in a state that generates more power from nuclear energy than any other—has lacked an operating research reactor.