DOE releases Final EIS for one-of-a-kind Versatile Test Reactor

May 17, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News
Conceptual site layout for the VTR, as shown in the Final EIS. (Image: DOE-NE)

The Versatile Test Reactor, a custom-designed sodium-cooled fast neutron spectrum test reactor, is one step closer to its goal of providing data to accelerate research, development, and demonstration of diverse advanced reactor designs. The Department of Energy released the Final Versatile Test Reactor Environmental Impact Statement (Final VTR EIS) on May 13, and 30 days after its anticipated May 20 publication in the Federal Register, the DOE will issue a Record of Decision on the project.

Granholm: DOE developing “full-on uranium strategy”

May 10, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News

The Department of Energy is putting together a national uranium supply strategy, energy secretary Jennifer Granholm told lawmakers last week at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing.

Granholm was appearing before the committee to discuss the Biden administration’s fiscal year 2023 budget proposal for the DOE.

Huff approved to head Office of Nuclear Energy

May 5, 2022, 3:04PMNuclear News


The Senate has confirmed ANS member Kathryn Huff as the next assistant secretary for the Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) in the Department of Energy. The bipartisan vote, held earlier this afternoon, was 80–11.

President Biden selected Huff in January to fill the top spot at NE—a post that has been vacant since Rita Baranwal (also an ANS member) announced she was leaving the position on January 8, 2021.

Huff came to the DOE in May of last year to serve as principal deputy assistant secretary for nuclear energy, going on unpaid leave from her position as an associate professor in the Department of Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering at the University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign, where she led the Advanced Reactors and Fuel Cycles Research Group.

Oregon State and NuScale: From university to start-up

April 15, 2022, 3:06PMNuclear NewsBrian Woods
Rendition of a VOYGR plant layout. (Image: NuScale)

Universities are places where professionals, experts, and students come together to teach and learn, to conduct and disseminate research, and to dream and explore. Universities have a long history of technological innovation and development. It should therefore come as no surprise that institutes of higher education have been an integral part of the recent explosion of innovation within the advanced nuclear reactor community. Universities have not only powered workforce and technology development, but in a number of cases, they have served as the actual birthplaces of today’s advanced reactor designs.

TRISO-X applies for advanced reactor fuel facility license

April 11, 2022, 12:01PMNuclear News
Pictured from left to right: John Tappert, NRC; Jonathan Rowley, NRC; Jacob Zimmerman, NRC; Matthew Bartlett, NRC; Tim Beville, DOE; Jennifer Wheeler, TRISO-X; John Lubinski, NRC; Pete Pappano, TRISO-X; Jill Caverly, NRC; and Shana Helton, NRC. (Photo: X-energy)

TRISO-X submitted a license application for a high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) fuel fabrication facility to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on April 6, the day after parent company X-energy announced that TRISO-X had secured a 110-acre site in Oak Ridge, Tenn., for the construction of the facility, which it is aiming to have operating in 2025.

Barrasso introduces bill to prioritize HALEU supply chain and demo reactor needs

April 8, 2022, 9:20AMNuclear News
Ingots of HALEU derived from pyroprocessing of EBR-II driver fuel at Idaho National Laboratory. (Photo: INL)

On April 7, U.S. Sen. John Barrasso (R., Wyo.), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, introduced the Fueling Our Nuclear Future Act of 2022. The bill would ensure a domestic supply of high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) for advanced nuclear reactors by directing the Department of Energy to prioritize establishing a domestic HALEU enrichment capability and to use enriched uranium held by the DOE and the National Nuclear Security Administration to fuel advanced reactor demonstrations until U.S. commercial enrichment is available. The bill explicitly excludes uranium sourced or processed by any entity owned or controlled by the governments of Russia and China.

ANS webinar looked at building domestic HALEU production capacity

March 16, 2022, 12:00PMANS News

The United States must ramp up the domestic production of high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU), the panelists agreed during a March 11 members-only webinar held amid heightened concerns about energy security following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the day after Congress approved $45 million for the HALEU Availability Program for fiscal year 2022.

John Starkey, ANS director of public policy, moderated the webinar, which featured panelists Scott Kopple, senior director of government relations at BWX Technologies; Everett Redmond, senior technical advisor at the Nuclear Energy Institute; Benjamin Reinke, senior director of corporate strategy and advisor to the CEO at X-energy; Patrick White, project manager at the Nuclear Innovation Alliance (NIA); and Brad Williams, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee staff.

A recording of the webinar is available to ANS members.

DOE funds R&D for advanced reactor fuel cycle management

March 14, 2022, 7:01AMNuclear News

The Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E) has awarded a total of $36 million for 11 projects to develop technologies that will limit the amount of waste produced from advanced reactors and will support sustainable domestic fuel stocks. The projects include research into the facilities and systems required to reprocess, recycle, and dispose of spent fuel generated through diverse advanced reactor fuel cycles.

Where are strong nuclear export markets likely to emerge?

March 7, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear NewsGuest Contributor

Three factors will drive nuclear exports: energy security, decarbonization, and geopolitics. Recent power prices in Europe, coupled with the situation in Ukraine, demonstrate the interplay of all three factors. Nuclear exports have to be viewed in the context of the current geopolitical climate, particularly relative to Russian and Chinese competitive offerings. Finally, the critical importance of nuclear energy in meeting global decarbonization efforts can be a driving force for exports, further enhanced by the inclusion of nuclear energy in clean/green taxonomies and the accompanying support from the ESG (environmental, social, and governance) investor community.

ANS to DOE: HALEU availability program needed ASAP

February 18, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

The American Nuclear Society is urging the Department of Energy to accelerate the development of an availability program for high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU).

In a letter sent to the DOE earlier this week, ANS President Steven Nesbit and Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer Craig Piercy state that HALEU availability is critical to the continued development of advanced nuclear technologies.

Clinch River in the Spotlight

February 17, 2022, 3:15PMANS Nuclear Cafe
An advanced nuclear reactor technology park is hoped for the 935-acre Clinch River site. Image: TVA

Last week’s announcement from the Tennessee Valley Authority about its “New Nuclear Program,” which outlines the potential development of the Clinch River site near Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Eastern Tennessee, is the catalyst for this week’s #ThrowbackThursday post. The Clinch River site was originally planned to be the location for the Clinch River Breeder Reactor, a project that, at the time, was meant to be the future of the nuclear industry in the United States.

NN Asks: What fuels your commitment to nuclear technology?

February 8, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear NewsKelly Hartless

When I came to work at BWX Technologies immediately after getting my degree in chemical engineering from the University of Virginia, I was amazed to see how nuclear energy could be harnessed to both power and protect our country. Since then, I’ve come to see that nuclear energy can do even more. The nuclear industry’s next tasks are to address climate change, propel us to other bodies in the solar system, and provide power when we arrive. Recently developed coated fuels are an enabling technology for these tasks.

Tennessee governor gives nuclear another rhetorical boost

February 3, 2022, 7:22AMNuclear News


In his annual State of the State Address on January 31, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee offered more praise for nuclear energy, after lauding it earlier in the month during a tour of the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Watts Bar nuclear plant

“For decades, East Tennessee has been home to some of the best-kept secrets in nuclear energy and American innovation,” Lee told the state’s General Assembly. “Today, many may not realize that Tennessee derives more power from nuclear energy than from any other source. Recently, I visited the TVA’s Watts Bar nuclear facility, the last nuclear facility to be built in America, to see firsthand how nuclear power keeps our grid dependable even when the weather is not. Nuclear power is clean energy that actually works for the private sector.”

Advanced reactors: Now comes the hard part

January 28, 2022, 2:26PMNuclear NewsMatthew L. Wald

Designing a reactor is complicated but building one may be harder. Even companies that have had lots of practice haven’t always done it well. And all the power reactors in service today were built by companies that had years of experience in other kinds of big steam-electric power plants. In contrast, some of the creative new designs now moving toward commercialization come from start-ups that have never built anything at all. How should they prepare?

Predictions: What lies ahead for nuclear in 2022

January 21, 2022, 3:26PMNuclear News

As we begin a new year, it is natural not only to look back (see page 24 for top news stories of 2021) but also to look forward. Nuclear News reached out to leaders in the nuclear community to get their predictions on what 2022 has in store, whether broadly or for their specific areas within the community. Although the responses below are wide-ranging and varied, one thing is made clear by all of the respondents: 2022 will see growth and opportunity. The future for nuclear is bright.

House committee passes bipartisan university research infrastructure bill

January 21, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

A bipartisan bill to ensure that U.S. universities are equipped to play a key role in supporting the deployment of advanced nuclear technology and applications has been passed by the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

The National Nuclear University Research Infrastructure Reinvestment Act of 2021 (H.R. 4819) would boost investment in new and existing university nuclear science and engineering infrastructure, establish regional consortia to promote collaboration with industry and national laboratories, and support the development of advanced reactor technology and the workforce required for commercial advanced reactor deployment.

A call to action

January 17, 2022, 3:01PMNuclear NewsJohn C. Wagner

John C. Wagner

Like many of you, I have dedicated my career to the advancement of nuclear energy. We chose this path because clean energy changes lives. If we want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, end energy poverty, develop a U.S. power grid that is secure and resilient, and ensure national security, nuclear must be a significant part of the mix.

But let us acknowledge the reality of our situation. Nuclear power plants continue to close. New reactor projects are too often delayed by cost overruns and red tape. Not having solved the politics for a permanent repository, spent fuel sits at shut-down reactor sites.

We find ourselves perpetually running the hamster wheel, building paper reactors, and grinding our teeth as critics cloud public discourse by regurgitating old fears and clinging to the tired tropes of a bygone era.

New GAIN website tracks significant advanced reactor milestones

January 5, 2022, 3:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

A new website, Milestones in Advanced Nuclear, has been launched by the Department of Energy's Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN). The website features news stories about advanced reactor activities and offers a “Contact an expert” section for submitting questions and comments for response from GAIN.