Future job opportunities highlight Friday Plenary at ANS Student Conference

April 12, 2021, 9:30AMANS News

The second day of the 2021 ANS Virtual Student Conference, on April 9, hosted by North Carolina State University opened with the plenary, “Student Opportunities within the Nuclear Community.” The session featured three panelists, each representing a different sector of the nuclear community.

Pandemic-delayed ANS Student Conference kicks off with enthusiasm

April 9, 2021, 11:59AMANS News
NCSU: Site of the 2021 ANS Student Conference

North Carolina State University was finally able to host the ANS Student Conference, April 8 to 10. After the 2020 event was canceled due to the global coronavirus pandemic, the 2021 version is being held virtually for the first time.

The conference's opening session is available for registered attendees to view online.

Road to advanced nuclear: How DOE and industry collaborations are paving the way for advanced nuclear reactors

April 2, 2021, 8:58AMNuclear NewsCory Hatch

As electric utilities rush to reduce carbon emissions by investing in intermittent renewables such as wind and solar, they often rely heavily on fossil fuels to provide steady baseload power.

More than 60 percent of the nation’s electricity is still generated with fossil fuels, especially coal-fired and gas-fired power plants that have the ability to quickly ramp up or ramp down power to follow loads on the electric grid. Most experts agree that even with a radical advancement in energy storage technology, relying exclusively on wind and solar to replace fossil fuels won’t be enough to maintain a stable electric grid and avoid the major impacts of climate change.

To complete the transition to a carbon-free energy future, one key piece of the puzzle remains: nuclear power.

Partnership supports siting Xe-100 demo in Washington state

April 1, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News
U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse (R., Wash.) observes as (from left) Energy Northwest CEO Brad Sawatzke, X-energy CEO Clay Sell, and Grant PUD CEO Kevin Nordt sign the TRi Energy Partnership MOU on April 1 at the Port of Benton in Richland, Wash. Photo: Energy Northwest

Building the nation’s first advanced reactor is the goal of a partnership formed between X-energy, Energy Northwest, and the Grant County (Washington) Public Utility District (PUD).

The TRi Energy Partnership will support the development and demonstration of X-energy’s Xe-100 high-temperature gas reactor, which was selected by the Department of Energy for a cost-shared commercial demonstration by 2027 through the DOE’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP). The new partnership was announced on April 1, when Clay Sell, X-energy’s chief executive officer; Brad Sawatzke, Energy Northwest’s CEO; and Kevin Nordt, the Grant County PUD’s CEO, met in Richland, Wash., to sign a memorandum of understanding.

Fission gas monitoring tool developed for molten salt reactors

March 17, 2021, 3:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Amanda Lines, a PNNL chemist, develops real-time monitoring tools to pave the way for faster advanced reactor testing and design. (Photo: Andrea Starr/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)

Advanced reactor development and testing could benefit from a Pacific Northwest National Laboratory innovation that combines remote, real-time monitoring of gaseous fission by-products with a software package designed with plant operators in mind, according to an article published online earlier this month.

The basics: “Real-time monitoring is a valuable tool, particularly in the development of next-generation reactors,” said Amanda Lines, a PNNL chemist. “This can help designers more efficiently and effectively design and test flow loops, mechanisms, or processes. Also, when they ultimately deploy their reactor systems, this gives operators a tool to better understand and control those processes.”

ANS forms advanced reactors working group

March 5, 2021, 12:00PMANS News

Nesbit

Knowing that many ANS members are heavily involved in the development and regulatory oversight of advanced reactors, ANS Vice President/President-elect Steve Nesbit envisioned a place where members involved in the field could pool their resources, exchange ideas, and support interactions with other organizations and government agencies.

Nesbit’s vision is becoming a reality with the formation of the ANS Advanced Reactor Group. For now, it is housed within the Operations and Power Division, but the ARG will be open to other divisions as well. In fact, OPD chair Piyush Sabharwall said that input from across the ANS membership is essential for the group.

Browns Ferry-2 outage to include turbine work, loading of 3D-printed parts

March 2, 2021, 12:04PMNuclear News

A replacement rotor is lifted and staged for the upcoming Browns Ferry-2 turbine work. Photo: TVA

The Tennessee Valley Authority has begun a refueling and maintenance outage at Browns Ferry-2 that includes the largest scope of turbine deck work since the unit’s construction, as well as innovations in fuel assembly components, the utility announced on March 1.

On deck: All three of the 1,254.7-MWe boiling water reactor’s low-pressure turbines will undergo a comprehensive replacement of major components, including new rotors, inner casings, steam piping and bellows, and turbine supervisory instruments, requiring the support of more than 500 additional outage workers. TVA said that 600 crane lifts will need to be performed for some components, such as the rotors, which weigh up to 327,888 lb., and inner casings, which weigh up to 200,000 lb.

Strategy for U.S. leadership in advanced nuclear released

March 2, 2021, 6:59AMNuclear News

The Nuclear Innovation Alliance (NIA) and the Partnership for Global Security (PGS) have released a joint report laying out a comprehensive strategy for U.S. leadership in the commercialization of next-generation nuclear power.

The 34-page report, U.S. Advanced Nuclear Energy Strategy for Domestic Prosperity, Climate Protection, National Security, and Global Leadership, says that collaboration between government, industry, civil society, and other nations can bring advanced reactors to market to reduce global emissions, provide domestic jobs, and support national security.

The report was released with a 58-minute webinar available on YouTube.

Big Sky Country mulls small modular reactors

February 18, 2021, 6:58AMNuclear News

A Montana Senate committee last week passed a joint resolution calling for the creation of a legislative panel to study the feasibility of replacing the coal-fired units at the state’s Colstrip power plant with advanced small modular reactors.

Two of Colstrip’s four coal boilers were permanently closed in January 2020, and most energy-sector observers expect the remaining two units to be retired within the next few years, given coal’s declining prospects in states such as Washington, which has passed legislation banning utilities from using coal power after 2025.

The resolution, known as SJ3, also calls on the panel to evaluate current Montana regulations that need revision in order to enable the construction and operation of advanced nuclear reactors. The study would need to be concluded before September 15, 2022.

Online registration opens for virtual NRC conference

February 10, 2021, 7:03AMNuclear News

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has opened registration for its annual Regulatory Information Conference (RIC), the largest public meeting the agency hosts. Scheduled for March 8–11, the 33rd RIC will be an all-virtual event.

The full conference program and registration information can be accessed from the RIC Web page.

Details: In addition to remarks from the NRC commissioners and the executive director of operations, RIC 2021 will feature two special plenary sessions, including one in recognition of the 10th anniversary of the Fukushima Daiichi accident, and 28 technical sessions covering a wide range of topics, such as advanced reactors, accident tolerant fuel, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, microreactors, and risk-informed decision making.

PRA standard for Advanced Non-Light Water Reactors just issued

February 9, 2021, 7:03AMNuclear News

ANSI/ASME/ANS RA-S-1.4-2021, “Probabilistic Risk Assessment Standard for Advanced Non-Light Water Reactor Nuclear Power Plants,” has just been issued. Approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) on January 28, 2021, this joint American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)/American Nuclear Society (ANS) standard sets forth requirements for probabilistic risk assessments (PRAs) used to support risk-informed decisions for commercial nuclear power plants and prescribes a method for applying these requirements for specific applications.

ANSI/ANS-RA-S-1.4-2021 and its preview are available in the ANS Standards Store.

Canada and Europe team up to drive new nuclear

January 28, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News

The Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA) and the European Atomic Forum (FORATOM) have signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate in the promotion of advanced nuclear technologies. The agreement, announced on January 27, aims to boost the organizations’ efforts to advance the development, application, and deployment of nuclear energy to meet climate change goals, according to the announcement.

Fuel innovation: Powering nuclear modernization

January 18, 2021, 9:35AMNuclear NewsBen Holtzman

Today’s U.S. commercial nuclear power plants are fueled with uranium dioxide pressed into cylindrical ceramic pellets—and have been for decades. These pellets are stacked inside long fuel rods made of a zirconium alloy cladding. Innovation in nuclear fuel, however, can improve safety, reduce operating costs, and further enable the development of a new generation of non-light-water reactors.

ARC-20 cost-share funds go to ARC Nuclear, General Atomics, and MIT

December 23, 2020, 7:00AMNuclear News

Designs chosen for ARC-20 support could be commercialized in the mid-2030s. Graphic: DOE

The Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy (DOE-NE) has named the recipients of $20 million in Fiscal Year 2020 awards for Advanced Reactor Concepts–20 (ARC-20), the third of three programs under its Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP). The three selected teams—from Advanced Reactor Concepts LLC, General Atomics, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology—will share the allocated FY20 funding for ARC-20 and bring the total number of projects funded through ARDP to 10. DOE-NE announced the news on December 22.

The DOE expects to invest a total of about $56 million in ARC-20 over four years, with industry partners providing at least 20 percent in matching funds. The ARDP funding opportunity announcement, issued in May 2020, included ARC-20 awards, Advanced Reactor Demonstration awards, and Risk Reduction for Future Demonstration awards.

Advanced reactors take center stage in Popular Mechanics

December 17, 2020, 6:59AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The January/February 2021 issue of Popular Mechanics hit subscriber mailboxes this week with a stark cover image of a single small reactor under the headline, “Tiny nuclear reactors are about to revolutionize American energy.” The story looks at advanced reactors as a pivotal step to “redeem nuclear’s stature in American energy.”

A good primer: The article does a good job introducing the casual reader to the idea that “bigger is no longer better” and that the future of nuclear power in the United States will most likely be “a combination of traditional large plants and smaller, safer megawatt reactors.”

Advanced reactors, including small modular reactors, show that nuclear is no longer a one-size-fits-all operation, the article notes. The industry now “is all about personalization,” says Ken Canavan, Westinghouse’s chief technical officer, who is quoted in the article. The capacity and scalability of SMRs “is just irreplaceable,” he adds.

The article explains that SMRs, microreactors, and other advanced reactor designs will be able to bring reliable, carbon-free power to small or remote locations, replacing fossil fuel power plants and supplementing the “resource-sucking downtimes left by renewables.”

Five advanced reactor designs get DOE risk reduction funding

December 16, 2020, 3:00PMNuclear News

The Department of Energy today announced $30 million in initial fiscal year 2020 funding—with the expectation of more over the next seven years—for five companies selected for risk reduction for future demonstration projects. The chosen reactor designs from Kairos Power, Westinghouse, BWX Technologies, Holtec, and Southern Company collectively represent a range of coolants, fuel forms, and sizes—from tiny microreactors to a molten salt reactor topping 1,000 MWe. They were selected for cost-shared partnerships under the Office of Nuclear Energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP) through a funding opportunity announcement issued in May 2020.

“All of these projects will put the U.S. on an accelerated timeline to domestically and globally deploy advanced nuclear reactors that will enhance safety and be affordable to construct and operate,” said Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette. “Taking leadership in advanced technology is so important to the country’s future, because nuclear energy plays such a key role in our clean energy strategy.”

Advanced reactors important for carbon-free power production in U.S., tweets Vice News

December 15, 2020, 12:13PMANS Nuclear Cafe

A video posted to Twitter by Vice News discusses the prospect of advanced reactors being an important mix of carbon-free power production in the United States. Hosted by Gelareh Darabi, an award-winning Canadian-British-Iranian journalist and documentary filmmaker, the video provides quick and easy statistics for the general audience and pulls from social media influencer I_sodope. It also includes comments from nuclear experts.

U.K. sets plans for clean energy and green jobs by 2050

December 14, 2020, 2:59PMNuclear News

A 170-page energy white paper, Powering Our Net Zero Future, issued by the United Kingdom government on December 14 sets big goals for cleaning up the U.K.’s energy system. According to the U.K. government, the plan would create and support green energy jobs across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and would keep electricity bills affordable as the U.K. transitions to net zero emissions by 2050.

The white paper notes that the U.K. will generate emission-free electricity by 2050 with a trajectory that will see "overwhelmingly decarbonized power in the 2030s. Low carbon electricity will be a key enabler of our transition to a net zero economy with demand expected to double due to transport and low carbon heat."

The white paper builds upon the U.K. prime minister’s 38-page Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, which was issued on November 18.

Kairos Power test reactor comes to repurposed Oak Ridge site

December 11, 2020, 2:41PMNuclear News

An aerial view of the ETTP site. Photo: Heritage Center, LLC

Kairos Power plans to site a test reactor it has dubbed Hermes at the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) in Oak Ridge, Tenn. The company has executed a Memorandum of Understanding with Heritage Center, LLC, to acquire the former K-33 gaseous diffusion plant site at ETTP, subject to ongoing due diligence evaluations. The announcement was made today, during the 2020 East Tennessee Economic Council Annual Meeting and Awards Celebration.

“We are thrilled at the prospect of coming to East Tennessee,” said Michael Laufer, cofounder and chief executive officer of Kairos Power. “The infrastructure available at ETTP, combined with its proximity to key collaborators at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, makes this a great location to demonstrate our technology. The successful commissioning of Hermes builds on our current technology development programs and extensive engagement with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Ultimately, Hermes will prove that Kairos Power can deliver real systems at our cost targets to make advanced nuclear a competitive source of clean energy in the United States.”

Lou Martinez, vice president of strategy and innovation, added, “Today is an important day for Kairos Power. We are celebrating our 4th anniversary by showcasing an important milestone.”

From the ground up: Building a workforce for advanced nuclear

December 4, 2020, 2:01PMNuclear NewsMichelle Goff

INL will need technical, innovative, and safety-minded construction personnel for the advanced nuclear projects ahead. Photo: INL

Around the world, researchers in the energy industry are engaging in the work of studying, testing, and developing carbon-free energy solutions. Throughout these circles, many scientists and engineers are embracing the possibilities of advanced nuclear technologies, including small modular reactors and microreactors. While these innovative technologies are poised to address some of the nation’s biggest concerns, they also present their own unique challenges, including the need for a large and talented workforce within the construction industry.

Fortunately, the state of Idaho and its key nuclear players are well-equipped for this challenge. In southeastern Idaho, home of Idaho National Laboratory, strong partnerships throughout the region have forged networks between the lab and the educational institutions, employers, trades, and unions that are working to establish this highly specialized nuclear talent pipeline.