Hot U market and simmering interest in HALEU: It boils down to demand

September 22, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News
(Click photo to enlarge) One of 16 AC100M gas centrifuges built by Centrus Energy for HALEU production in Piketon, Ohio. (Photo: Centrus Energy)

For years, pressure has been building for a commercial path to a stable supply of high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU)—deemed essential for the deployment of advanced power reactors—but advanced reactor developers and enrichment companies are still watching and waiting. In contrast, the uranium spot price soared after Sprott Physical Uranium Trust, a Canadian investment fund formed in July, began buying up U3O8 supplies, causing the price to increase over 60 percent, topping $50 per pound for the first time since 2012. Fueled by growing acknowledgment that nuclear power is a necessary part of a clean energy future, uranium is the focus of attention from Wall Street to Capitol Hill.

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.

Heralding a fusion breakthrough and “a new era” for energy

September 13, 2021, 3:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Paul Dabbar, former undersecretary for science at the Department of Energy and distinguished visiting fellow at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy, is lauding the recent successful test of a 10-ton high-temperature superconducting magnet performed by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Commonwealth Fusion Systems. In an op-ed published on September 10 in The Hill, Dabbar calls for a new level of investment and support for the commercial fusion sector.

Opposition to VTR is “dogmatism” we can’t afford, says Breakthrough Institute

September 10, 2021, 7:01AMANS Nuclear Cafe
A rendition of the VTR. (Graphic: DOE)

In an op-ed published online yesterday in The Hill, Ted Nordhaus and Adam Stein of the Breakthrough Institute pick apart arguments made against funding for the construction of the Versatile Test Reactor at Idaho National Laboratory. Nordhaus and Stein contend that opposition to the VTR has been led by “entrenched opponents of nuclear energy” who “fear that innovation of the sort that many U.S. nuclear startups are presently betting on might give the technology a second life.”

NuScale simulator installed at new Idaho laboratory

September 3, 2021, 7:06AMNuclear News
A NuScale representative conducts training on the nuclear power plant control room simulator for students and faculty at CAES. (Photo: CAES)

The Center for Advanced Energy Studies (CAES) has announced the opening of the Small Modular Reactor Simulator Laboratory, featuring NuScale Power’s Energy Exploration Center, at its headquarters in Idaho Falls, Idaho. The new lab will increase CAES’s capabilities to train future scientists, engineers, and members of the energy workforce and will be used to educate the public about nuclear energy and reactor technology, according to an August 31 CAES press release.

PNNL team weighs options for removing spent fuel from reactor sites

September 2, 2021, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
Participants in a site evaluation of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. (Photo: Steve Maheras/PNNL)

Over the past decade, the Department of Energy has been collecting data on nuclear power plants to help plan for the eventual removal of spent nuclear fuel from the sites, performing site evaluations to assess transportation infrastructure and the transportability of spent fuel.

Sandia expands software billed as “Swiss Army knife” of nuclear system safety

August 30, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News
Sandia's Brad Beeny (left) and Larry Humphries examine remnants from a series of lower head failure experiments. Results from these and other experiments are used to inform nuclear accident modeling computer code. (Photo: Randy Montoya)

Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have been expanding MELCOR—the severe accident modeling computer code used by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to evaluate the safety of light water reactors—to study the small modular reactors and non-light-water advanced reactors that are under development. An article published in Sandia Lab News on August 27 describes in detail how MELCOR is being expanded to work with different reactor geometries, fuel types, and coolant systems.

Back to school with Navigating Nuclear: ANS’s complete K-12 curriculum

August 27, 2021, 12:01PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Teachers and parents around the nation are learning about Navigating Nuclear: Energizing Our World—a K-12 nuclear science curriculum that now features content for all grade levels and can be accessed at The free online materials are classroom-ready, and include virtual field trips, project starters, and lessons available to every teacher and parent.

Final DOE buildings coming down at former Energy Technology Engineering Center

August 27, 2021, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
Workers use high-reach shears to begin demolition of the Sodium Pump Test Facility at the former Energy Technology Engineering Center in California. (Photo: DOE)

Crews are in the homestretch of completing demolition of Department of Energy–owned buildings at the former Energy Technology Engineering Center (ETEC) site in Ventura County, California, the agency reported on August 24.

U.S. Nuclear Nexus created to guide exporters of advanced nuclear technology

August 23, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News

Companies, universities, and national laboratories across the United States are working together to develop and demonstrate advanced nuclear technologies. To deploy those technologies on a global scale and maximize U.S. efforts to combat climate change, technology developers eyeing the export market must navigate rules and recommendations designed to ensure that international safeguards, security, and nonproliferation standards are met. Understanding and, where appropriate, integrating these standards early in the development process is crucial for streamlining export and technology deployment.

Rewriting the script: The real story of advanced reactors

August 19, 2021, 3:02PMNuclear NewsSusan Gallier
The EBR-II sodium fast reactor at Idaho National Laboratory began operations in 1964 and generated electricity for decades. Soon it will serve as a National Reactor Innovation Center test bed for future advanced reactor demonstrations. (Source: ANL)

At the box office or streaming at home, it’s fear, not truth, that sells. The laws of physics are swept aside, apocalypse is inevitable, and superpowered heroes wait until the last possible second to save the universe. It can make for great entertainment, but in the real world we need to stick with science over science fiction and be wowed by engineering, not special effects.

The truth is, science and innovation are incredible in their own right. From communications and machine learning to space travel and medical advances, technology is evolving in hyperdrive to solve real problems. With climate change and global warming here on earth, we don’t have to go looking for trouble in a galaxy far, far away.

National Ignition Facility experiment achieves record-breaking yield

August 18, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News
A color-enhanced photograph of the NIF target bay. (Photo: LLNL/Damien Jemison)

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is celebrating the yield from an experiment at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) of more than 1.3 megajoules of energy—eight times more than the yield from experiments conducted this spring and 25 times more than NIF’s 2018 record yield.

DOE seeking comments on domestic uranium reserve program

August 13, 2021, 6:14AMNuclear News
[Image: U.S. DOE]

The Department of Energy has issued a request for information (RFI), inviting public comment on topics related to the establishment of its Uranium Reserve Program to support U.S. fuel cycle capabilities. Notice of the RFI was published in the August 11 Federal Register, with a deadline of September 10 for submitting comments.

Could Hawaii get its clean energy from nuclear?

August 11, 2021, 6:03AMANS Nuclear Cafe
A satellite image of Hawaii. Image: NASA

Jacob Wiencek, a self-described concerned resident of Honolulu, is doing his part to encourage the state of Hawaii to embrace nuclear power. An opinion piece written by Wiencek was published in Honolulu Civil Beat, an online, nonprofit news site, on August 4.

Management of high-burnup spent fuel subject of NWTRB report

August 6, 2021, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
A shipping cask containing high-burnup fuel rods from Dominion Virginia Power’s North Anna nuclear plant is prepared for shipment to Oak Ridge National Laboratory for study. (Photo: EPRI/Dominion Energy)

The Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board (NWTRB) has released a comprehensive and highly technical report on the Department of Energy's research efforts into high-burnup spent nuclear fuel. The NWTRB is an independent federal agency tasked with evaluating the technical and scientific validity of DOE activities related to managing and disposing of high-level radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel.

The NWTRB report to the U.S. Congress and the secretary of energy, Evaluation of the Department of Energy’s Research Program to Examine the Performance of Commercial High Burnup Spent Nuclear Fuel During Extended Storage and Transportation, was posted to the board’s website on August 2. It is a product of a multi-year effort during which the NWTRB reviewed the DOE’s research activities into the performance of high-burnup spent nuclear fuel (SNF) in extended storage and transportation conditions.

High-energy physics gets DOE funding

August 6, 2021, 7:01AMNuclear News

The Department of Energy’s Office of Science (DOE-SC) on August 2 announced a plan to provide $100 million over the next four years for university-based research on a range of high-energy physics topics through a new funding opportunity announcement. The objective of “FY 2022 Research Opportunities in High Energy Physics,” sponsored by the Office of High Energy Physics within DOE-SC, is to advance fundamental knowledge about how the universe works.

Corey Hinderstein nominated for NNSA nonproliferation post

August 5, 2021, 3:01PMNuclear News


President Biden has nominated Corey Hinderstein, ANS member since 2016, for deputy administrator for defense nuclear nonproliferation for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.

Hinderstein is vice president of international fuel cycle strategies at the Nuclear Threat Initiative, based in Washington, D.C. Her focus is on international nuclear fuel cycle and nonproliferation policy, global nuclear security, and arms control and nonproliferation monitoring and verification.

An inventive solution speeds up production of actinium-225

August 5, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News
Chemist Kevin Gaddis has adapted components of a high-pressure ion chromatography system to withstand the extreme conditions of a hot cell. (Photo: ORNL/Carlos Jones)

An Oak Ridge National Laboratory researcher has built a device that can speed up the separation of the medical radioisotope actinium-225 from irradiated thorium targets and withstand the high-radiation environment of a hot cell. In July, ORNL announced that Kevin Gaddis, a chemistry technician at the lab, had built and tested a prototype and was working to secure a patent for a device that cut separations time by 75 percent.

ORNL to test accident tolerant fuel irradiated at Byron-2

August 4, 2021, 3:02PMNuclear News
Irradiated lead test rods are delivered to Oak Ridge National Laboratory for examination. (Photo: ORNL)

Several lead test rods of Westinghouse’s EnCore accident tolerant fuel recently arrived at Oak Ridge National Laboratory for post-irradiation examination over the next year in support of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s licensing process. The rods were installed in 2019 in Exelon’s Byron-2, a 1,158-MWe pressurized water reactor, and were removed in fall 2020 and prepared for shipment to ORNL.

The VTR is “crucial” for U.S. national security, Atlantic Council leaders contend

August 4, 2021, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe



An article written by national security experts Thomas Graham Jr. and Richard W. Mies, published online in The National Interest on August 3, argues that a recent move by the House Appropriations Committee to zero out the budget for the Versatile Test Reactor “has grave ramifications for U.S. national security and the fight against climate change.” Funding and building the VTR would present an opportunity for the United States to regain its leadership role in nuclear reactor designs and fuel, Graham and Mies assert.

Former ambassador Graham is chairman of the board of Lightbridge Corporation and former general counsel and acting director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. Retired admiral Mies served as the fourth commander in chief of U.S. Strategic Command. Graham and Mies serve as cochairs of the Atlantic Council’s Nuclear Energy and National Security Coalition. Select excerpts from their article are provided here.