Plans for TerraPower’s “test and fill” sodium facility covered in draft EA

November 20, 2023, 3:00PMNuclear News
Image from the DOE’s draft EA showing a rendering of the TFF building. (Image: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations issued a draft environmental assessment (EA) in early November for a test and fill facility (TFF) that TerraPower plans to build in Kemmerer, Wyo.—the town selected two years ago to host the company’s first Natrium sodium fast reactor. The draft EA, open for comment through December 1, describes TerraPower’s plans to construct a nonnuclear facility that would safely store about 400,000 gallons of sodium to test coolant system designs and ultimately fill the planned reactor.

Laying the foundation for advanced reactors

November 15, 2023, 9:31AMNuclear NewsRichard A. Meserve

Richard A. Meserve

Climate change presents a grave threat, demanding increasing reliance on low-carbon energy over the coming decades. Nuclear power today contributes half of U.S. low-carbon generation, and achievement of climate goals requires the continued operation of existing plants. But there are competitors for low-carbon energy, and nuclear’s further role remains uncertain. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) conducted a study to explore the challenges that must be overcome for widespread new nuclear deployment.1 This article provides my summary of the study, highlighting and abbreviating some of its principal recommendations. Note that the italicized portions of the article are shortened versions of the recommendations in the report.

Rethinking how we structure federal R&D programs in nuclear energy

October 13, 2023, 8:01AMANS News

At the American Nuclear Society’s 2023 Winter Meeting in November, a panel of experts will provide insights and opinions on the funding of nuclear energy research in the United States. The executive session “Rethinking How We Structure Federal R&D Programs in Nuclear Energy” will feature the University of Michigan’s Todd Allen, Aditi Verma, and Sola Talabi, and Idaho National Laboratory’s Jess Gehin.

Wyoming invites BWXT to assess microreactors for the state

September 18, 2023, 7:00AMNuclear News

Concept art of the BANR microreactor system. (Image: BWXT)

BWX Technologies last week announced a contract with the Wyoming Energy Authority (WEA) to evaluate the viability of deploying microreactors in the state.

The Lynchburg, Va., tech firm said its BWXT Advanced Technologies subsidiary will execute the two-year, two-phase agreement in close consultation with the state government and other Wyoming organizations and companies.

X-energy, Energy Northwest team for multiple SMR deployments

July 20, 2023, 9:43AMNuclear News

Small modular reactor firm X-energy and Energy Northwest, owner and operator of the Columbia nuclear power plant in Richland, Wash., announced yesterday the signing of a joint development agreement (JDA) for up to 12 Xe-100 SMRs in central Washington, capable of generating up to a total of 960 MWe.

The JDA defines and details the scope, location, and schedule under which the commercial development of the project will move forward, the companies said, adding that they will also work together to determine the best approaches to licensing and regulatory matters, as well as the project delivery model. Currently, the Xe-100 project is expected to be developed at a site adjacent to the Columbia facility, with the first module coming on line by 2030.

Kairos test reactor passes NRC safety review

June 28, 2023, 3:00PMNuclear News

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff has completed its final safety evaluation for Kairos Power’s application to build its Hermes advanced test reactor at a site in Oak Ridge, Tenn., the agency announced recently. The evaluation found no safety aspects precluding issuance of a construction permit for the proposed reactor.

Site for Dow, X-energy SMR project selected

May 15, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News
A digital rendering of the Dow/X-energy Xe-100 plant in Texas. (Image: X-energy)

Dow and X-energy have announced the location of their Xe-100 small modular reactor deployment project: Dow’s UCC Seadrift Operations manufacturing site in Texas. According to a May 11 joint news release, the SMR plant will provide the Seadrift site with power and heat as the site’s existing energy and steam assets near the end of their operational lives.

The NASEM report: Laying the foundation for a nuclear-powered, low-carbon grid

May 2, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News
This slide on the right from the consensus committee’s public briefing identifies 10 core variables that are important to the success of advanced reactor deployments. (Image: NASEM, Laying the Foundation for New and Advanced Nuclear Reactors in the United States)

Richard Meserve, who for more than two years chaired the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) Consensus Committee on Laying the Foundation for New and Advanced Nuclear Reactors in the United States, introduced its 300-page report on April 27 during a public briefing.

X-energy, Dow agree to embed an Xe-100 demo at a Gulf Coast industrial facility

March 1, 2023, 3:07PMNuclear News
Artist’s rendering of an Xe-100 plant. (Image: X-energy)

Dow and X-energy announced today that they have signed a joint development agreement (JDA) to demonstrate the first grid-scale advanced nuclear reactor at an industrial site in North America within a decade. As part of the agreement, Dow is now a subawardee under X-energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP) Cooperative Agreement with the Department of Energy.

NRC begins public engagement for TRISO-X fuel facility license application

February 9, 2023, 12:01PMNuclear News
A rendering of the TRISO-X fuel fabrication facility. (Image: DOE)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission recently presented its proposed 30-month licensing review timeline of TRISO-X’s planned fuel fabrication facility at the project’s first-ever public meeting in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

TRISO-X, a subsidiary of X-energy, has requested a 40-year license to possess and use special nuclear material to manufacture advanced fuel. The facility would be the first-ever commercial-scale fuel fabrication plant focused on using high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU).

National laboratories: Open for business like never before

January 25, 2023, 7:03AMNuclear NewsCorey McDaniel
Industry professionals visit INL as part of a U.S. Nuclear Industry Council Conference. (Photo: INL)

The Department of Energy’s commitment to breaking down market barriers with initiatives, programs, and access to facilities is making it simpler and more efficient than ever for industry to partner with national laboratories. It is especially timely, as the country continues to face evolving security, economic, and clean energy challenges. Partnering opportunities via the DOE’s Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs) and Strategic Partnership Projects (SPPs) are particularly prevalent in the commercial nuclear community and have seen a tremendous amount of funding and support dedicated to advancing the development, demonstration, and deployment of new reactor technologies.

Just add HALEU: TerraPower and GNF-A break ground on fast reactor fuel facility

October 26, 2022, 9:21AMNuclear News
Natrium Fuel Facility groundbreaking. (Photo: GNF-A)

Global Nuclear Fuel–Americas (GNF-A) and TerraPower announced their plans to build a Natrium fuel fabrication facility next to GNF-A’s existing fuel plant near Wilmington, N.C, on October 21. While more than 50 years of fuel fabrication at the site have supported the boiling water reactor designs of GE (GNF-A’s majority owner) and GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH), the Natrium Fuel Facility will produce metallic high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) fuel for the sodium fast reactor—Natrium—that TerraPower is developing with GEH.

DOE plans offtake contracts to stock a HALEU bank “as soon as possible”

October 21, 2022, 9:13AMNuclear News
An image from the video “What is High-Assay Low-Enriched Uranium (HALEU)?” released by the DOE in April 2020. (Source: DOE)

Another piece of the plan for meeting the urgent need for high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) to fuel advanced reactor deployments fell into place when the Department of Energy held an Industry Day on October 14. Attendees were asked how soon they could deliver 25 metric tons per year of HALEU enriched in the United States from newly mined uranium. Offtake contracts for six or more years of HALEU production at that rate could be used to stock a DOE-owned HALEU bank to “support [HALEU] availability for civilian domestic research, development, demonstration, and commercial use.”

TRISO-X breaks ground on Oak Ridge fuel facility as licensing work continues

October 17, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News
Government officials and representatives of X-energy and its TRISO-X subsidiary at the October 13 groundbreaking. (Photo: X-energy)

Leaders of X-energy and its TRISO-X subsidiary gathered on October 13 to break ground at the site of what X-energy bills as “North America’s first commercial-scale advanced nuclear fuel facility” in Oak Ridge, Tenn. X-energy expects the TRISO-X Fuel Fabrication Facility (TF3) to create more than 400 jobs and to be commissioned and operational by 2025.

GAO finds nuclear demo best practices could set new standard for clean energy projects

October 3, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News

The Department of Energy’s management of its commercial-scale reactor demonstration projects has “generally been consistent with requirements to address risk,” according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report published recently. The GAO found that the DOE has met existing project management requirements, and that the two offices managing the awards—the Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) and the Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations (OCED)—plan to introduce additional project management tools, such as external independent reviews. The GAO recommended that the DOE adopt those plans as institutional best practices for other large energy projects, and the DOE concurred.

An interview with NRC Chairman Christopher T. Hanson

September 9, 2022, 3:09PMNuclear NewsRick Michal

Who better to talk with about the licensing of nuclear facilities and materials than Christopher T. Hanson, the chairman of the five-member Nuclear Regulatory Commission? Hanson is the principal executive officer of and official spokesman for the NRC. As a collegial body, the Commission formulates policies, develops regulations governing nuclear reactor and nuclear material safety, issues orders to licensees, and adjudicates legal matters.

The IRA: Crediting nuclear energy

September 7, 2022, 3:03PMNuclear News

While the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA), recently signed into law, has created a good deal of buzz in the nuclear community, the thought of wading through its 730 pages of legislative language can be a bit intimidating. Which is why, on August 26, the American Nuclear Society offered an hour-long, members-only webinar on the legislation and its key provisions for nuclear energy.

Moderated by John Starkey, ANS’s director of public policy, “Inflation Reduction Act: What’s in It for Nuclear” featured Benton Arnett, director of markets and policy for the Nuclear Energy Institute; Josh Siegel, energy and climate change reporter for Politico; Rory Stanley, staff member of the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee; Elina Teplinsky, partner at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman; and James Wickett, partner at Hogan Lovells. (ANS members can view the full webinar here.)

Perfecting the public-private partnership: Is X-energy leading the way?

August 24, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News

X-energy has been having a good year. Not only did Dow announce plans to invest in the company’s high-temperature gas reactor (HTGR) technology and deploy an Xe-100 reactor at a U.S. Gulf Coast facility for power and process heat by 2030, in parallel with the Xe-100 demo planned for Washington state with support from the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP), but X-energy’s fuel subsidiary, TRISO-X, has applied for a fuel facility license and aims to have a commercial fuel plant operating in 2025, and Canadian provinces are signaling their interest in the technology. And while news of Dow’s investment broke with well-deserved fanfare, the company’s serious interest in HTGRs—and federal support for HTGR development—goes way back.

Penn State wants a Westinghouse eVinci microreactor on campus

May 19, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News
Representatives from Westinghouse and Penn State met at Westinghouse headquarters to sign a memorandum of understanding and enter a partnership focused on researching and developing microreactors. From left: Jason Beebe, director of the global transformation office at Westinghouse; Michael Valore, senior director of advance reactor commercialization, Westinghouse; Mike Shaqqo, senior vice president of advanced reactors, Westinghouse; Lora Weiss, senior vice president for research at Penn State; Jean Paul Allain, head of the Ken and Mary Alice Lindquist Department of Nuclear Engineering at Penn State; Geanie Umberger, associate vice president for research and director of industry research collaborations at Penn State; Saya Lee, assistant professor of nuclear engineering; Elia Merzari (back), associate professor of nuclear engineering; and Hilary Ruby, director of transformation for the Americas Operating Plant Services Business Unit at Westinghouse. (Photo: Westinghouse)

Penn State University has announced plans to explore siting a Westinghouse Electric Company eVinci microreactor on its State College campus in central Pennsylvania. Under a memorandum of understanding to perform research and development work that could advance the future commercial deployment of eVinci, a team of researchers in Penn State’s Ken and Mary Alice Lindquist Department of Nuclear Engineering also plans to explore how eVinci could displace some fossil-fueled energy sources on campus.