RadioNuclear 22: HBO’s Chernobyl: A Setback or Opportunity?

Episode 22 of RadioNuclear is now available. In this episode, we discuss the recent miniseries "Chernobyl", which recently concluded on HBO. We debunk some of the more egregious articles written in the wake of the show (see links to these articles below). We also discuss good ways to engage with individuals who are captivated with the show, and not necessarily familiar with nuclear technology.

Advocating for Nuclear with the NESD

ANS Friday Nuclear Matinee 2/1: Vogtle Timeline Update

Friday-Nuclear-Matinee

Our latest ANS Nuclear Cafe Matinee film is the latest video update by Southern Company on the progress of the Vogtle nuclear plant expansion.  This video runs just over seven minutes and brings you the details of the construction as of the last quarter of 2018.  Enjoy!

Looking Back: A Brief History of CONTE

The accident that occurred at Three Mile Island on March 28, 1979, brought about many changes to the nuclear industry. Among the changes was the industry stopping to reflect on current procedures and the training of its employees. Exhorted by the findings of the Kemeny Commission and sponsored by the Department of Energy, industry leaders and training personnel began meeting on improvements to training at the Gatlinburg Conference in the early 1980's.

Consolidated Storage of Commercial Used Fuel

Used nuclear fuel storage; photo courtesy Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a division of the US Department of Energy

An interesting session at the ANS 2016 Annual Meeting, sponsored by the Fuel Cycle & Waste Management Division, saw the presentation of a number of interesting papers relative to the ever-increasing problem of used nuclear fuel at the various commercial nuclear plant sites in the United States.  Not only does the used fuel (which is a far better term than "spent fuel," these days, since it can conceivably be reused) continue to accumulate at the nuclear plants, but there is also a considerable amount of used fuel being stored at various sites where the nuclear plants have actually been shut down, decommissioned and completely removed for years.  Considering this, and the need to inventory, characterize and eventually move this material, a growing amount of interest is being shown in this field.

"Nuclear Energy" - National Nuclear Science Week, Day 3 (October 22)

NSWlogoThe third day of National Nuclear Science Week is focused upon the production of energy by nuclear means-and that means energy that can do work for man. Electric power, steam for heating businesses and homes, and mechanical power for propelling ships are perhaps the best known examples of man's use of nuclear energy.

Seven Decades Past, A New Dawn

Shortly before midnight on September 26, 1944, a sustained chain reaction was begun for the first time in a nuclear reactor whose purpose was not merely to prove that fission could be achieved or sustained. The brand new reactor at Hanford Engineer Works, Washington state, had only been complete for about a month; its first uranium fuel had begun loading only on September 13. Incredibly, this facility, of a nature that had never been attempted before (as man had only been aware of fission, itself, for less than a decade) was built in the incredible time span of 11 months; ground had been broken to build the reactor building in October 1943.

Return to the 1970s

LetsGoBookIn the 1960s, visions for nuclear power were hopeful and plentiful; nuclear plants of all sorts imaginable* were under consideration and under construction in areas both urban and remote, while future plans portrayed an enormous nuclear plant build-out with a complete fuel cycle that included fuel recycling and breeder reactors.

Update and Perspective on Small Modular Reactor Development

The US Department of Energy has a $452 million program to share development and licensing costs for selected small modular reactor (SMR) designs. The DOE's goal is to have an operating SMR by ~2022. Last November, the DOE awarded the first grant to the B&W mPowerTM reactor. In more recent news, the DOE has decided to issue a follow-on solicitation to enter a similar cost-sharing agreement with one or more other SMR vendors (and their SMR designs). The status of development and licensing for several SMR designs are summarized below.

On federal investment in Small Modular Reactor technology

Taxpayers for Common Sense on February 27 issued a press release targeting the Department of Energy for "wasting more than half a billion dollars" on its small modular reactor (SMR) development cost-sharing program. Leaving aside the historically essential role of government investment in developing, advancing, and bringing to market innovative energy technologies-and the fact that early government investments in nuclear energy technology now pay back enormous dividends to all Americans in billions of dollars' worth of affordable and emission-free electricity generation every year-many of the advantages of advanced SMR energy technologies were overlooked or misconstrued in the group's press release and policy brief.

How Can Nuclear Construction Costs Be Reduced?

This month's post discusses my ideas on an issue I've been thinking about for awhile.  Although we have four new reactors under construction in the United States (at Vogtle and Summer), the nuclear "renaissance" has so far not been nearly as strong as many had hoped. This begs the question as to what is holding nuclear back.

ANS Nuclear Cafe Matinee: DUFF Space Nuclear Reactor Prototype

A joint Department of Energy and NASA team has demonstrated a simple, robust fission reactor prototype [note: see Comments for more accurate and complete description] intended for development for future space exploration missions. The DUFF (Demonstration Using Flattop Fissions) experiment represents the first demonstration in the United State-since 1965-of a space nuclear reactor system to produce electricity.