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.

Looking back at 2022—April through June

January 4, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News

Another calendar year has passed. Before heading too far into 2023, let’s look back at what happened in 2022 for the American Nuclear Society and the nuclear community. In today's post that follows, we have compiled from Nuclear News and Nuclear Newswire what we feel are the top nuclear news stories from April through June 2022.

Stay tuned this week for the top stories from the rest of the past year.

But first:

BWXT Medical submits Tc-99m generator application to FDA

September 14, 2022, 3:02PMNuclear News

BWXT Medical has submitted a new drug application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to request approval of its technetium-99m generator for medical imaging. A daughter isotope of molybdenum-99, Tc-99m is used in more than 40 million diagnostic procedures annually. BWXT Medical is a subsidiary of Lynchburg, Va.-based BWX Technologies.

From NIA: New and updated reports on advanced nuclear

July 20, 2022, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The Nuclear Innovation Alliance (NIA), a Washington, D.C.–based nonprofit, has released a new report, Advanced Nuclear Reactor Technology: A Company Compendium, along with an update to its Advanced Nuclear Reactor Technology: A Primer, first published last September.

Both reports are meant to serve as resources for investors, reporters, policymakers, regulators, and others wanting to learn more about the different technologies and key players involved in the design, licensing, construction, and operation of advanced nuclear reactors.

BWXT wins Project Pele contract to supply U.S.'s first microreactor

June 9, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News
Artist’s rendering of BWXT’s Project Pele transportable reactor modules arriving for set up and operation. (Image: BWXT)

BWX Technologies, Inc., will deliver the first microreactor in the United States under a contract awarded by the U.S. Department of Defense Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO), the company announced today. BWXT will have two years to build a transportable microreactor prototype to the SCO’s Project Pele specifications and deliver it to Idaho National Laboratory for testing under a cost-type contract valued at about $300 million.

DOE-NE 2023 budget priorities summarized in ANS online program

May 18, 2022, 11:59AMNuclear News

A team from the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy joined ANS Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer Craig Piercy on April 27 for an ANS members–only online event to discuss the Biden administration’s fiscal year 2023 NE budget proposal. The proposed total for the office, $1.675 billion, is more than a $20 million increase from the FY 2022 enacted level of $1.654 billion.

DOD to move ahead with Project Pele

April 18, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News
The Project Pele microreactor will be fueled by TRISO fuel particles like those shown here. (Photo: INL)

The Department of Defense’s Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO) on April 13 released a record of decision (ROD) for Project Pele, a program intended to design and build a mobile microreactor at Idaho National Laboratory. The ROD for Project Pele is based on a final environmental impact statement (EIS) published in February. The designs submitted by the two candidate vendors—BWXT Advanced Technologies and X-energy—both fit the parameters analyzed in the final EIS.

GEH to work with Swedish firm on SMR deployment

March 24, 2022, 11:45AMNuclear News
A cutaway image of the BWRX-300. (Image: GEH)

Wilmington, N.C.–based GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy has signed a memorandum of understanding with Kärnfull Next—a new company and a wholly owned subsidiary of Swedish firm Kärnfull Future AB—to collaborate on the deployment of GEH’s BWRX-300 small modular reactor in Sweden.

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.

Final EIS for Project Pele microreactor available

February 25, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News
An illustration of a potential mobile microreactor site at Test Pad D in INL’s Critical Infrastructure Test Range Complex for the grid operation phase of Project Pele. (Image: DOD)

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) is looking to reduce its reliance on local electric grids and diesel-fueled generators at military installations. Project Pele is designed to demonstrate the technical and safety features of mobile microreactors capable of generating up to 5 MWe.

The need for a metallic nuclear fuels qualification plan

February 4, 2022, 3:13PMNuclear NewsHank Hogan, Steven Hayes, Nicolas Woolstenhulme, and Colby Jensen

Positioning nuclear power to combat climate change requires the rollout of advanced reactors to replace carbon-­emitting power generation. That necessity, and its urgency, is reflected in recent budget proposals for the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy. Part of that proposed funding focuses on deploying new fuel technologies.

Metallic fuels, which are alloys of fissionable material, offer several advantages, including more fuel-­efficient reactors with a double or greater fuel burnup than the oxide fuels found in light water reactors. Fuel fabrication is also more cost-­effective with metallic fuels than with oxide fuels. Furthermore, much of the research and development effort needed to qualify these metallic fuels has been done.

BWXT to demonstrate TRISO fuel line operations under contract extension

January 24, 2022, 2:59PMNuclear News

BWX Technologies announced on January 24 that it has been awarded a $4.9 million contract amendment to produce TRISO fuel particles using natural uranium and to demonstrate performance under a defined production schedule. BWXT’s Nuclear Operations Group will perform the work at BWXT’s Lynchburg, Va., facility, where TRISO production was restarted in November 2020. The contract amendment was awarded by Battelle Energy Alliance, which manages Idaho National Laboratory on behalf of the Department of Energy.

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.

BWXT delivers reactor fuel that could power a roundtrip to Mars

December 14, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News
Coated uranium fuel kernels, as viewed through a glovebox. (Photo: BWXT)

Nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) is one technology that could propel a spacecraft to Mars and back, using thermal energy from a reactor to heat an onboard hydrogen propellant. While NTP is not a new concept, fuels and reactor concepts that can withstand the extremely high temperatures and corrosive conditions experienced in the engine during spaceflight are being designed now.

BWX Technologies announced on December 13 that it has delivered coated reactor fuels to NASA for testing in support of the Space Technology Mission Directorate’s NTP project. BWXT is developing two fuel forms that could support a reactor ground demonstration by the late 2020s, as well as a third, more advanced and energy-dense fuel for potential future evaluation. BWXT has produced a videoof workers processing fuel kernels in a glovebox.

From the pages of Nuclear News: Industry update

December 6, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News

NuScale Power has signed a memorandum of understanding with Prodigy Clean Energy and Kinectrics to explore and inform the development of a regulatory framework to address the licensing and deployment of a marine power station (MPS). The MPS would integrate one to 12 NuScale power modules into a marine-based nuclear power plant system. The MPS would be shipyard-fabricated and marine-transported to its deployment location, where it would be moored in place in sheltered and protected waters at the shoreline. Prodigy is Canada’s first commercial marine nuclear power developer, specializing in integrating existing power reactors into stationary-deployed marine power plant structures. Kinectrics provides life-cycle management services to the electricity industry.

Canada authorizes Mo-99 production at Darlington station

November 12, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News
Darlington nuclear power plant. (Photo: OPG)

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) has amended Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) operating license for its Darlington nuclear power station near Clarington, Ontario, allowing the company to produce the medical radioisotope molybdenum-99 using Darlington’s Unit 2 CANDU reactor. OPG subsidiary Laurentis Energy Partners, in conjunction with BWXT Medical, is leading the program to produce Mo-99 at Darlington.

X-energy has work ahead in quest to build TRISO-X fuel facility, Xe-100 reactor

November 10, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News
The TRISO-X fuel pebble shown here contains TRISO particles—HALEU-bearing kernels of oxide and carbide in alternating layers of pyrolytic carbon and silicon carbide. (Image: X-energy)

X-energy and Centrus Energy announced last week that they have completed the preliminary design of the TRISO-X fuel fabrication facility and have signed a contract for the next phase of work. The planned facility would produce TRISO fuel particles and pack those particles into fuel forms, including the spherical graphite “pebbles” needed to fuel X-energy’s Xe-100 high-temperature gas reactor.

Bruce-6 gets first of eight new steam generators

October 4, 2021, 3:01PMNuclear News
Bruce nuclear power plant in Ontario, Canada. (Photo: Bruce Power)

The first of eight 160-ton steam generators for Unit 6 at Canada’s Bruce nuclear power plant was installed last week as part of the facility’s major component replacement project. “Congrats to the MCR team and our partners, including @AeconGroup, @Framatome_CA, @UEandC, @mammoetglobal, @BWXT, and others who contributed to this historic moment,” Bruce Power tweeted on September 30.

The component was fabricated at BWXT Canada’s Cambridge, Ontario, location and was shipped to the Bruce site in late 2020, as shown in this video.

The vendor responsible for generator removal is the Steam Generator Replacement Team (SGRT), a 50-50 joint venture between Aecon and the Steam Generating Team, itself a partnership between Framatome and United Engineers & Constructors. In July, Framatome announced that SGRT had been awarded an approximately C$350 million (about $278 million) contract by Bruce Power to replace the steam generators at Units 3 and 4.

Draft EIS released for Project Pele mobile microreactor demo at INL

September 17, 2021, 9:37AMNuclear News

Plans to test a prototype mobile microreactor designed to military requirements moved ahead when the Department of Defense (DOD), acting through its Strategic Capabilities Office and with the Department of Energy serving as a cooperating agency, on September 16 announced the availability of a draft environmental impact statement for the construction and demonstration phase of Project Pele.

First major component removed at Bruce-6

July 28, 2021, 7:01AMNuclear News
A crane removes the first of the Unit 6 steam generators on July 23. (Photo: Bruce Power)

Bruce Power has removed the first of eight steam generators from Unit 6 at the Bruce nuclear plant in Ontario, the company announced earlier this week. The work was done as part of the facility’s major component replacement (MCR) project.