Feature Article

Fuel innovation: Powering nuclear modernization

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.

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House committee marks up Energy and Water Development bill

The House Appropriations Committee held its full committee markup of the Energy and Water Development bill on July 13. (The Bill Report provides a more detailed funding breakdown.) The final bill passed the committee by a party line vote of 30-21. No schedule for Floor consideration of the bill has been set, but it is likely to happen next week or the week after.

First test cycle successfully completed at Hatch plant

The lead test rods for the world’s first installed accident tolerant fuel (ATF) have completed a full cycle at Unit 1 of the Hatch nuclear power plant in Baxley, Ga. Southern Nuclear Operating Company operates the two-unit plant.

During a planned spring 2020 maintenance and refueling outage at Unit 1, operators transferred a sampling of the lead test rods from the reactor to the spent fuel pool. An initial inspection of the fuel in comparison to standard zirconium rods has been completed.