Two projects selected for DOE funding awards

The Department of Energy announced on April 28 that the Southern Ohio Diversification Initiative (SODI) and the Southern Nuclear Development LLC (SND) would receive funding for their advanced nuclear technology development projects. The two awards—one to support site preparation for a future domestic advanced reactor demonstration project and the other for an advanced reactor regulatory licensing grant—have a total value of $5.4 million.

INL seeks input on construction technologies

Battelle Energy Alliance, the managing and operating contractor for Idaho National Laboratory, is seeking an expression of interest (EOI) from industry stakeholders interested in forming a partnership to develop and/or demonstrate advanced construction technologies and processes. The effort would be executed as an initiative of the National Reactor Innovation Center (NRIC) at INL. Battelle announced the EOI on April 17, with a deadline for responses of May 16.

UT, TVA to evaluate SMR development at Clinch River

The University of Tennessee (UT) and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) signed a memorandum of understanding on April 7 to evaluate the development of a new generation of cost-effective advanced nuclear reactors, such as small modular reactors (SMR), at TVA’s 935-acre Clinch River Nuclear Site in Roane County, Tenn.

Accelerating the deployment of advanced nuclear energy systems

The TCR program is leveraging an agile approach—one that is centered around continuously informing the process—to accelerate deployment timelines and introduce performance improvements. Image: Adam Malin, ORNL

Soon after Enrico Fermi’s Chicago Pile-­1 went critical for a brief duration in December 1942, the construction of the first continuously operating reactor, the X-­10 Graphite Reactor, was initiated in February 1943 at Clinton Engineer Works in Oak Ridge, Tenn. On November 4 of that year, a mere nine months after the start of construction, the reactor began operation. This marked the onset of what Alvin M. Weinberg referred to as “the first nuclear era,” during which many reactors of various designs and operating parameters were built and demonstrated across the United States. Forty years ago, the Fast Flux Test Facility was the last U.S. non-­light-­water reactor to reach criticality, and it has since been decommissioned.

New Senate bill promotes advanced nuclear reactors

On February 27, Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska) and Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) introduced the American Energy Innovation Act (AEIA), a 555-­page piece of policy legislation that incorporates over 50 energy-­related bills considered and individually reported by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last year—measures sponsored or cosponsored by more than 60 senators from both sides of the aisle.

Replacing Fossil with Nuclear – Five Fast Thoughts!

This week I had some considerable interaction on social media in the area of replacing fossil power at existing sites with micro reactors or SMR’s (Small Modular Reactors.) As we see real progress happening now in these exciting reactor fields (NuScale and Oklo come to mind first, but there are others!) I’d like to share five things to think about as we begin to seriously consider replacing fossil power (coal, oil) at particular sites with nuclear.