Introducing the molten salt nuclear battery

June 25, 2021, 2:49PMNuclear NewsPaul Marotta, Richard Christensen, and Piyush Sabharwall

Molten salt reactor technology first gained popularity in the 1960s, through the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment program at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Now, decades later, a technology known as the molten salt nuclear battery (MsNB) is being developed to support the growing need for carbon-free, reliable, independent, and compact sources of small-scale heat and electrical power.

2021 ANS Virtual Annual Meeting: President’s Special Session

June 16, 2021, 3:43PMNuclear News

The current orthodoxy on climate change—that it is an existential threat to global civilization—was challenged on June 15 during the 2021 ANS Virtual Annual Meeting's President’s Special Session, which featured two prominent dissenters from that view, Michael Shellenberger and Mark P. Mills.

National Geographic looks at the future of nuclear power in the United States

May 6, 2021, 12:03PMANS Nuclear Cafe
Unit 3 of the Vogtle plant under construction (Photo: Georgia Power)

To reach President Biden’s goal of cutting U.S. carbon emissions in half by 2030 and to have a net-zero carbon economy by 2050, some environmentalists are reconsidering their opposition to nuclear energy’s role as a climate crisis solution. According to the article, The controversial future of nuclear power in the U.S., from National Geographic, nuclear power has a lot going for it. Its carbon footprint is equivalent to wind, less than solar, and orders of magnitude less than coal. Nuclear power plants take up far less space on the landscape than solar or wind farms, and they produce power even at night or on calm days.

Kurzgesagt YouTube channel asks: Do we need nuclear energy to stop climate change?

April 21, 2021, 12:01PMANS Nuclear Cafe
A screenshot from the Kurzgesagt YouTube video

The German animation studio Kurzgesagt released a new video to its English YouTube channel last week to answer the question, “Do we need nuclear energy to stop climate change?” The studio’s channel on YouTube is self-described as a small team working to make science look beautiful. Its videos discuss a variety of scientific, technological, philosophical, and psychological questions, and it has more than 14 million subscribers. The channel recently discussed the question of deaths caused by radiation—spoiler alert, nuclear is among the safest of all energy production.

Sen. Manchin urges Biden to preserve U.S. nuclear fleet

April 20, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News


Highlighting nuclear’s role in providing reliable power, reducing emissions, and addressing climate change, Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) sent a letter to President Biden, urging him to support the continued operation of the United States’ civil nuclear fleet and prevent further plant closures. Manchin, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said that preventing the closure of existing nuclear power plants is critical to achieving emission reduction goals while ensuring a reliable grid.

Biden administration preparing to invest in infrastructure

March 23, 2021, 7:05AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The New York Times has reported on a set of massive spending proposals under President Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda that is adding up to $3 trillion aimed at boosting the economy and combating climate change. The proposals are expected to be presented to Congress in three parts instead of as one massive bill. Details still need to be worked out and the proposals remains in flux, according to the Times.

House GOP energy agenda features nuclear-related legislation

March 18, 2021, 9:29AMNuclear News

In response to House Democrats’ introduction on March 2 of a massive energy bill, the CLEAN Future Act, Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee have unveiled their own, more modest energy agenda—a package of existing legislation that they say would “secure America’s energy future and global competitive edge against China.”

McMorris Rodgers

According to a March 15 press release from the committee’s ranking member, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R., Wash.), along with Reps. Fred Upton (R., Mich.) and David McKinley (R., W.Va.), the GOP plan will address climate change risks and spur the development and deployment of clean energy infrastructure without the “pie-in-the-sky” mandates, regulations, and federal government spending advocated by the Democrats.

What they’re saying: “This package will modernize and improve our energy infrastructure and promote an all-of-the-above energy strategy across the board, including solutions to unleash innovation in hydropower, nuclear, clean coal, and natural gas,” the Republican lawmakers state. “These are real, workable solutions to make energy cleaner, reduce emissions, prioritize energy security, and keep energy costs low.”

States sue Biden over social cost of carbon order

March 12, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News


Twelve states are suing the Biden administration over the president’s January 20 executive order on climate change. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court on March 8 by Missouri attorney general Eric Schmitt, who was joined in the action by his counterparts in Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah.

The reason: The suit objects to a provision in the order that revitalizes the social cost of carbon (SCC) metric—a tool used by regulators to weigh the cost to society, in dollars, of emitting one ton of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The SCC—which takes into account such things as human health, agricultural productivity, property damage from increasingly severe storms, and the value of ecosystem services—had faded into insignificance under President Trump.

FERC to look at grid reliability

February 26, 2021, 9:32AMNuclear News

Spurred by last week’s power grid failure in Texas, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Monday announced that it will open a new proceeding to examine the threat that climate change and extreme weather events pose to electric reliability. The proceeding, FERC said, will investigate how grid operators prepare for and respond to these events, including droughts, extreme cold, wildfires, hurricanes, and prolonged heat waves.

Manchin voices strong support for nuclear energy

February 26, 2021, 7:03AMANS Nuclear Cafe


Speaking at a U.S. Senate committee meeting this week, Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.V.) said that continuing support for nuclear energy would be essential in meeting the country’s goals of reducing the emissions that fuel climate change, according to the Politico Pro newsletter.

Details: Manchin, who heads the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, was highly critical of anyone suggesting that climate change can be addressed without nuclear energy being in the mix.

Gates highlights nuclear’s role in fighting climate change

February 19, 2021, 9:29AMANS Nuclear Cafe


Bill Gates is making the media rounds to promote his new book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need, which was released on Tuesday. Along the way, he’s been touting nuclear energy as part of his master plan for battling climate change.

60 Minutes: Gates kicked off the week with an appearance on 60 Minutes on Sunday. During the nearly 15-minute segment with correspondent Anderson Cooper, Gates discussed TerraPower, the company he founded in 2006 that is dedicated to nuclear innovation. “Nuclear power can be done in a way that none of those failures of the past would recur, because just the physics of how it's built,” Gates said, referring to TerraPower’s Natrium reactor. “I admit, convincing people of that will be almost as hard as actually building it. But since it may be necessary to avoid climate change, we shouldn't give up.”

COVID-19 wake-up call: Doomsday Clock remains at 100 seconds to midnight

January 27, 2021, 12:05PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Bulletin members reveal the 2021 setting of the Doomsday Clock. Photo: Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists/Thomas Gaulkin

Citing the mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Science and Security Board kept the Doomsday Clock at 100 seconds to midnight, remaining as near to midnight as it has ever been.

“The mishandling of this grave global health crisis is a ‘wake-up call’ that governments, institutions, and a misled public remain unprepared to handle the even greater threats posed by nuclear war and climate change,” a press release from the Bulletin stated. The group also cited a lack of progress in 2020 in dealing with nuclear and climate perils as the reason for not moving the Doomsday Clock from its 2020 position.

Climate change needs an Operation Warp Speed

January 18, 2021, 3:12PMNuclear News

The government of the United States should throw its muscle behind ramping up a mammoth, rapid rollout of all forms of renewable energy through Operation Warp Speed, similar to what is being done with COVID-19, Clive Thompson writes in an Ideas column for Wired.

The rollout should include energy sources that we already know how to build—like solar and wind — but also experimental emerging sources such as geothermal and small nuclear, and cutting-edge forms of energy storage or transmission.

Increasing costs of climate change–related disasters reflects importance of nuclear

January 11, 2021, 12:17PMANS News

Hurricanes, wildfires, and other disasters across the United States caused $95 billion in damage last year, according to new data referenced by the New York Times. The cost is almost double the amount in 2019 and the third-highest loss since 2010.

The new figures, reported January 7 by Munich Re—a company that provides insurance to other insurance companies—are the latest signal of the growing cost of climate change. The spike reflects the need for increased reliance on clean energy sources such as nuclear, solar, and wind.

ANS Board of Directors votes to retire outdated position statements

November 23, 2020, 3:00PMANS News

The American Nuclear Society’s Board of Directors on November 19 voted to retire several outdated position statements, as requested by the Public Policy Committee. Among them are Position Statements #37 and #63, dating from 2010, which have been retired for lacking policy recommendations and for being redundant, as other position statements exist with language that better articulates the Society’s stance on those topics.

Opinion: U.K. power stations could make hydrogen, heat homes, and decarbonize industry

November 5, 2020, 12:19PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Nuclear reactors have evolved to achieve more than just electricity generation and should be part of the U.K.’s plan to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Photo: Royal Society, authors provided

The United Kingdom needs to start rebuilding its capacity to generate nuclear power, according to an opinion article published Wednesday on The Conversation by two members of the U.K.-based Bangor University faculty.

Bill Lee, a professor of materials in extreme environments, and Michael Rushton, a senior lecturer in nuclear energy, argue that the plan by the Committee on Climate Change, which advises the U.K. government on the effort to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, is “strangely silent on nuclear power.”

To fight climate change, accept nuclear energy

October 23, 2020, 12:17PMANS Nuclear Cafe

“The world needs a mix of renewable power sources, including one that can carry on producing power when the others can’t—the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow,” British journalist Jonathan Gornall writes in an opinion piece posted Wednesday on the Asia Times website. Gornall argues that the residents of Suffolk County in the United Kingdom would be better served by the expansion of the Sizewell nuclear power plant than by leaving a wooded area untouched.

IAE, IAEA warn that climate challenge would be much harder without nuclear

October 12, 2020, 12:01PMANS Nuclear Cafe



“Given the scale and urgency of the climate challenge, we do not have the luxury of excluding nuclear from the tools at our disposal,” the leaders of the International Energy Agency and the International Atomic Energy Agency wrote in an op-ed article posted on the CNN website last Friday.

Fatih Birol, executive director of the IAE, and Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general of the IAEA, said that the COVID-19 crisis not only delivered an unprecedented shock to the world economy, it also underscored the scale of the climate challenge the world faces: Even in the current deep recession, global carbon emissions remain unsustainable.

Nuclear power: Are we too anxious about the risks of radiation?

September 30, 2020, 11:59AMANS Nuclear Cafe


Following U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s recent restatement of the United Kingdom’s commitment to nuclear power, BBC News chief environment correspondent, Justin Rowlatt, wrote an article aimed at separating fact from fiction regarding the safety and benefits of nuclear energy.

Among his points, Rowlatt defended the use of nuclear power to combat climate change, examined the data behind deaths from radiation exposure directly caused by the Chernobyl and Fukushima accidents, and explained that exposure to low levels of radiation is not a major health risk.