DOE backs U.S. stellarator research at Germany’s Wendelstein 7-X

June 10, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News
The Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics offers an interactive and informative 360-degree panoramic tour of Wendelstein 7-X. (Source: ipp.mpg.de)

U.S. scientists are getting funding to carry out seven research projects at two major stellarator fusion energy facilities located in Germany and Japan, the Department of Energy announced on June 8. A total of $6.4 million has been allocated for seven research projects with terms of up to three years.

Argonne-led team models fluid dynamics of entire SMR core

June 9, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear News
This image shows the individual pins in a full-core nuclear reactor simulation. (Image: ANL)

Coolant flow around the fuel pins in a light water reactor core plays a critical role in determining the reactor’s performance. For yet-to-be-built small modular reactors, a thorough understanding of coolant flow will be key to successfully designing, building, and licensing first-of-a-kind reactors.

Tiny MARVEL reactor gets final environmental assessment

June 8, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News
The MARVEL reactor concept with Stirling engines. (Image: DOE)

The definition of a microreactor is ambiguous. But whether your upper cutoff is 10 MW or 20 MW, the Microreactor Applications Research Validation and Evaluation (MARVEL) reactor that the Department of Energy plans to build is, at 100 kW, on the tiny side of micro.

TerraPower’s Natrium demo is headed to Wyoming

June 3, 2021, 12:03PMNuclear News
A future TerraPower plant visualization. (Graphic: TerraPower)

TerraPower has a design for a sodium-cooled fast reactor and federal cost-shared demonstration funding from the Department of Energy. Its partner, PacifiCorp, has four operating coal-fired power plants in the state of Wyoming. On June 2, together with Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon and others, the companies announced plans to site a Natrium reactor demonstration project at a retiring coal plant in Wyoming, with a specific site to be announced by the end of 2021.

U.S. and France commit to “common ambition” on advanced nuclear

June 2, 2021, 3:12PMNuclear News

U.S. energy secretary Jennifer Granholm and French minister for the ecological transition Barbara Pompili issued a joint statement on May 28 in which they pledged to work together to meet shared climate goals.

“France and the United States share common goals and common resolve in fighting climate change and working toward reaching the ambitious target set forth by the Paris agreement,” the statement read. “We are united in a common ambition on both sides of the Atlantic: achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Reaching this common objective will require leveraging all currently existing emission-free technologies available to us while simultaneously intensifying research, development, and deployment across a suite of zero-emissions energy sources and systems. Ensuring that these energy systems are efficient and reliable, integrating larger shares of renewables coupled with nuclear energy, which is a significant part of today’s electricity production in both our countries, will be crucial to accelerate energy transitions. Reaching this common objective will also require a wide variety of favorable financing conditions across the range of zero-emitting power sources and systems.”

“Now is the time” for more ATR capacity: A conversation with Lightbridge

May 28, 2021, 12:06PMNuclear News
A photo of a prototype Lightbridge fuel assembly. (Photo: Lightbridge)

Operators at the Advanced Test Reactor at Idaho National Laboratory have begun a nine-month outage to perform a core internals changeout. When the ATR is restarted in early 2022, the top head closure plate of the pressurized water test reactor will have new access points that could permit the irradiation of more fuel and material samples in the reactor’s high-flux neutron conditions.

Nine-month outage preps ATR for years of continued operation

May 26, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News
Operations personnel working above the Advanced Test Reactor on the reactor top area. The small cylindrical section in the center of the platform has access ports for refueling and experiment loading and unloading during routine outages. (Photo: INL)

The Advanced Test Reactor (ATR) at Idaho National Laboratory is getting an overhaul that will keep it off line for nine months. When the ATR is restarted in early 2022, the one-of-a-kind pressurized water test reactor—which is operated at low pressures and temperatures as a neutron source—will be ready for another decade or more of service, with the potential for more experimental capacity in years to come.

DOE announces funding for advanced reactor fuel cycle and reprocessing R&D

May 21, 2021, 7:06AMNuclear News
This figure, included in the ONWARDS funding opportunity announcement, shows how ARPA-E R&D programs address different stages of advanced reactor development. (Figure: ARPA-E)

The Department of Energy has announced up to $40 million in funding for a new Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program to conduct research and development into technologies for reprocessing and ultimately disposing of used nuclear fuel. The program, “Optimizing Nuclear Waste and Advanced Reactor Disposal Systems” (ONWARDS), announced on May 19, targets both open (once-through) and closed (reprocessing) fuel cycles to reduce the amount of waste produced from advanced reactors tenfold when compared to light water reactors.

NRIC wants to know: How could you use a hybrid nuclear energy system?

May 11, 2021, 12:02PMNuclear News
The demonstration program aims to accelerate innovation and deployment of energy concepts at the intersection of industry needs, NRIC’s mission, and the R&D portfolio of CTD IES. (Graphic: BEA)

The National Reactor Innovation Center (NRIC) wants to hear from developers and end users interested in integrated energy systems for advanced reactors. Battelle Energy Alliance (BEA), the managing and operating contractor for Idaho National Laboratory, has issued a call for Expressions of Interest for a potential multi-phase demonstration program for innovative uses of nuclear energy, to be carried out by NRIC and the Crosscutting Technology Development Integrated Energy Systems (CTD IES) program. The final date for responses is May 21.

Katy Huff named to leadership post in DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy

May 10, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News

Huff

Kathryn D. "Katy" Huff, an assistant professor of nuclear engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), has joined the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy as principal deputy assistant secretary, the DOE announced today. Huff will also take on the title of acting assistant secretary.

Called to serve: Just after she was officially sworn in, Huff took to Twitter to break the news:

“I’m thrilled to finally share that today is my first day in the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy,” she said. “I’m honored that the Biden-Harris administration has called me to serve . . . during a crucial time in humanity's endeavors toward sustainability, re-imagination of our energy infrastructure, and centering of environmental and energy justice in technology policy. . . . In this position, I hope to work across institutional and other barriers, listen to many voices, strive boldly, and serve responsibly.”

Granholm eyes federal assistance for at-risk reactors

May 10, 2021, 12:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Granholm

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told lawmakers that she is open to offering federal subsidies to prop up struggling nuclear plants. Granholm spoke during a meeting of the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, called to discuss the Biden administration’s proposal for the Department of Energy’s fiscal year 2022 budget.

What she said: “The DOE has not historically subsidized plants, but I think this is a moment to consider—and perhaps it is in the American Jobs Plan or somewhere—to make sure that we keep the current fleet active,” Granholm said on May 6, according to E&E News.

American Nuclear Society statement on Katy Huff being named as acting DOE nuclear energy chief

May 10, 2021, 10:27AMPress Releases

Washington, D.C.— Today, the Biden Administration named Katy Huff as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Energy and Acting Assistant Secretary of Energy at U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Nuclear Energy. The following statement can be attributed to Craig Piercy, CEO and Executive Director of the American Nuclear Society:

National Academies steers low-dose radiation research in a new direction

May 7, 2021, 7:02AMNuclear News

The United States is embarking on a new coordinated federal low-dose radiation research program. With guidance from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the Department of Energy’s Office of Science will build a program that integrates the research of past decades, but without treading the same well-worn path. Instead, the new program will focus on how the scientific understanding of low-dose radiation can best be augmented, applied, and communicated.

Granholm urged to form nuclear waste management office within DOE

May 5, 2021, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions

Granholm

The American Nuclear Society joined seven other prominent nuclear organizations in submitting a letter to energy secretary Jennifer Granholm requesting that the Department of Energy establish an office dedicated to developing and managing an integrated nuclear waste storage, transportation, and disposal program. The letter asks that the new office report directly to the energy secretary.

Specifically, the office would do the following:

  • Provide a focal point for work on spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste.
  • Facilitate necessary engagement with external stakeholders.
  • Demonstrate an intent and commitment to take meaningful action.

NWTRB offers six recommendations to spur U.S. nuclear waste management program

May 4, 2021, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions
The NWTRB’s six overarching recommendations for the DOE’s nuclear waste management program.

The Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board (NWTRB), created by Congress to evaluate the technical and scientific validity of the Department of Energy’s work related to the management and disposal of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste, has released a report titled Six Overarching Recommendations for How to Move the Nation’s Nuclear Waste Management Program Forward.

DOE touts a MARVEL of a microreactor project

April 15, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear News
An image from a video released by INL shows MARVEL, to be installed in a concrete pit within the TREAT reactor building. Source: INL

The Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy is spreading the word about plans to build a tiny microreactor called the Microreactor Applications Research Validation & EvaLuation (MARVEL) project inside Idaho National Laboratory’s Transient Reactor Test (TREAT) Facility and have it in operation within the next three years. INL recently released a video that describes how MARVEL could help researchers and industry partners test, develop, and demonstrate the integration of a microreactor’s heat and electricity output with other technologies.

The power to save the world … from asteroids

April 12, 2021, 6:59AMANS Nuclear Cafe
In this illustration of the effects of two neutron yields (50 kt and 1 Mt) and two neutron energies (14.1 MeV and 1 MeV), the black dots represent the location of a nuclear device. Dark blue indicates where the asteroid remains solid, while all other colors show where material has been melted or vaporized. The illustration depicts asteroids with 0.8-m and 5-m diameters—much smaller than the 300-m asteroid simulated in the study—to enhance the visibility of the area of the energy deposition. Image: LLNL

A research collaboration between Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) has investigated how the neutron energy generated by the detonation of a nuclear device could affect the path and speed of an asteroid on a collision course with Earth by melting and vaporizing a portion of the asteroid. The research, which compared the deflection caused by two different neutron energies—14.1 MeV and 1 MeV, representing fusion and fission neutrons, respectively—is described in an article published by LLNL on April 8.