U.S., Canada to cooperate on spent fuel management

May 18, 2023, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions
The NWMO’s Laurie Swami (left) and the DOE’s Kathryn Huff sign a statement of intent to cooperate on used nuclear fuel management in Washington, D.C., on May 16. (Photo: CNW Group/NWMO)

The United States and Canada will cooperate on spent nuclear fuel management under a statement of intent (SOI) signed between the U.S. Department of Energy and the Nuclear Waste Management Organization, the nonprofit responsible for the management of Canada’s commercial spent fuel.

INL waste treatment plant increases production

May 17, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News
DOE-EM officials, IWTU employees, and others signed the first stainless steel canister prior to crews filling it with sodium-bearing waste and simulant. Once filled, that canister and 15 others were placed in a concrete vault for storage. (Photo: DOE)

Since the launch of operations just over a month ago, the Integrated Waste Treatment Unit (IWTU) at Idaho National Laboratory has increased sodium-bearing waste treatment fivefold. This activity is a vital step in removing the remaining liquid waste from nearby underground tanks at the site and protecting the underlying Snake River Plain Aquifer.

DOE celebrates NIF ignition by funding R&D hubs for inertial fusion energy

May 16, 2023, 7:04AMNuclear News
Energy secretary Jennifer Granholm addresses an audience of lab staff, dignitaries, and media at LLNL. (Photo: LLNL)

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory hosted current and former staff, government officials, and media on May 8 to celebrate the lab’s achievement of fusion ignition at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) on December 5, 2022. Energy secretary Jennifer Granholm and undersecretary for nuclear security and National Nuclear Security Administration administrator Jill Hruby were in attendance, and Granholm took the opportunity to announce funding of up to $45 million to support inertial fusion energy (IFE) research and development. The Department of Energy’s Office of Science (DOE-SC) wants to establish multiple IFE Science and Technology Innovation Hubs (IFE S&T hubs), with total funding for 2023 of up to $9 million for projects lasting up to four years in duration.

ORNL shuttered molten salt reactor made safer

May 12, 2023, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
For the first time in 26 years, work crews performed sampling of gaseous byproducts at the MSRE. (Photo: DOE)

The Molten Salt Reactor Experiment (MSRE) facility is one of hundreds of old, contaminated buildings at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Y-12 National Security Complex in Tennessee that are slated to be taken down.

SRS’s H Canyon replaces essential crane motor

May 9, 2023, 9:33AMRadwaste Solutions
Crews recently replaced a motor in a crane at the SRS H Canyon for the first time in the facility’s 70-year history. (Photo: DOE)

Work crews at the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site in South Carolina recently replaced a motor on a crane in the 70-year-old H Canyon Chemical Separations Facility. H Canyon is the only production-scale, radiologically shielded chemical separations plant in operation in the United States.

ORNL-developed AR tool will help workers “see” radiation

May 8, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News
A still image from an ORNL video demonstrating the VIPER technology. (Credit: ORNL)

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory developed a method of using augmented reality (AR) to create accurate visual representations of ionizing radiation, and that technology has just been licensed by Teletrix, a Pittsburgh, Pa.-based firm that develops simulators to train radiological workers and radiological control technicians. ORNL announced the news on May 4.

Feds, state reach agreement in Hanford cleanup negotiations

May 4, 2023, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
The Hanford Site’s B Complex area tank farm containing waste created during the production of plutonium at the site. (Photo: DOE)

After nearly three years of discussions and more than 60 mediation sessions, the Department of Energy, Washington State Department of Ecology, and the Environmental Protection Agency announced that they have reached a conceptual agreement on revising plans for managing millions of gallons of waste stored in tanks at the Hanford Site near Richland, Wash.

Savannah River lab qualified to provide safeguards reference materials to IAEA

May 3, 2023, 12:03PMNuclear News

The International Atomic Energy Agency’s Department of Safeguards recently qualified Savannah River National Laboratory to produce microparticle reference materials that can be used to evaluate measurement quality in support of the Network of Analytical Laboratories (NWAL) and the IAEA’s verification mission. SRNL announced the development on April 25.

Framatome turns out one-of-a-kind fuels to extend the life of research reactors

May 3, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News
A Framatome operator fabricates U-Mo foils at CERCA. (Photo: Framatome)

Framatome is prepared to manufacture a novel molybdenum-uranium (U-Mo) fuel to extend the life and safe operation of the Forschungsreaktor München II (FRM II) research reactor in Germany. A new fuel supply—one that uses uranium enriched to less than 20 percent U-235—means the FRM II can continue to supply neutrons to industry and the scientific community. The fuel is “Europe’s low-enriched fuel with the highest density ever realized for research reactor operations,” according to Framatome’s April 27 announcement.

The NASEM report: Laying the foundation for a nuclear-powered, low-carbon grid

May 2, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News
This slide on the right from the consensus committee’s public briefing identifies 10 core variables that are important to the success of advanced reactor deployments. (Image: NASEM, Laying the Foundation for New and Advanced Nuclear Reactors in the United States)

Richard Meserve, who for more than two years chaired the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) Consensus Committee on Laying the Foundation for New and Advanced Nuclear Reactors in the United States, introduced its 300-page report on April 27 during a public briefing.

Atoms: Space travel plans

April 26, 2023, 3:00PMNuclear News

Earthbound air travel can be a hassle, even for careful planners. So if you’re heading to the Moon or beyond, it’s time to shift your planning into hyperdrive. Our advice, when there’s no guidebook, no proven vehicle, and your destination is a moving target? Don’t forget to pack your nuclear power bank.

Nuclear oversight board to discuss Savannah River safety concerns

April 12, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News
The DOE's Savannah River Site. (Photo: DOE)

The Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB) is scheduled to visit the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site in South Carolina the week of May 8 to discuss ongoing safety concerns and the protection of the public and workforce, as well as the DOE’s effectiveness in addressing those concerns.

NNSA makes awards to nine STEM consortia

April 12, 2023, 7:01AMNuclear News

The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration has awarded nine new grants totaling $40.8 million to minority-serving institutions (MSIs) to promote the development of a diverse, highly skilled, and enduring stream of students in STEM fields who may find careers with the NNSA. Each grant that was awarded has a three- to five-year period of performance.

NNSA establishes Advisory Committee for Nuclear Security

April 11, 2023, 7:04AMNuclear News

The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration has announced the establishment of the Advisory Committee for Nuclear Security (ACNS). Formerly known as the Defense Programs Advisory Committee, the newly formed ACNS is enlisting experts with knowledge of NNSA missions to provide independent advice and recommendations to the agency’s leadership.

DOE hosts Japanese officials from nuclear decommissioning group

April 5, 2023, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe
Pictured at the DOE's EM headquarters, from left, are Ana Han, foreign affairs specialist, EM International Program; Joceline Nahigian, director, EM Office of Intergovernmental and Stakeholder Programs; Scott Whiteford, deputy director, DOE Office of Legacy Management; William “Ike” White, EM senior advisor; Masaki Nakagawa, special advisor to executive directors, NDF; Tokuhiro Yamamoto, executive director, NDF; Shin Morita, managing director, International Affairs Group, NDF; Taro Hokugo, managing director, International Affairs Group, NDF; Jeff Avery, EM principal deputy assistant secretary; Angela Watmore, deputy assistant secretary, EM Office of Acquisition and Project Management; and Ming Zhu, EM senior advisor for laboratory policy. (Photo: DOE)

Representatives from the Japan Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corporation (NDF) recently visited the Department of Energy's Office of Environmental Management (EM) headquarters in Washington, D.C., and the Hanford Site in Washington state to promote collaboration and provide updates on the status and plans to decommission Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011, caused damage to the plant and surrounding communities. The NDF was created in September 2011 to oversee the decommissioning and cleanup of the plant, which is owned by the Tokyo Electric Power Company.

HALEU production prep to begin at Savannah River Site

April 3, 2023, 3:00PMNuclear News

(Image: DOE)

The Department of Energy reported on March 30 that the Savannah River Site’s H Canyon facility recently initiated actions to recycle a small amount of used high-enriched uranium (HEU). SRS is a 310-square-mile DOE site in South Carolina.

The HEU, which is currently stored at the site’s H Area, will be downblended in a few years into high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU), which will help to provide fuel for advanced nuclear reactors in the United States.

The DOE has a brief video available with graphic information about HALEU.

Watch for it—Advanced nuclear “liftoff” needs 5–10 reactor contracts by 2025

March 31, 2023, 9:29AMNuclear News
These graphs illustrate how rapidly scaling the nuclear industrial base would enable nearer-term decarbonization and increase capital efficiency, versus a five-year delay to reach the same 200 GW deployment by 2050. (Source: DOE, Pathways to Commercial Liftoff: Advanced Nuclear, Fig. 1)

The Department of Energy released Pathways to Commercial Liftoff: Advanced Nuclear earlier this month. It is one of the first in a series of reports on clean energy technologies and the private and public investments needed to overcome hurdles to full-scale deployment. The report makes a clear case for investment in nuclear power and challenges potential investors and operators to move beyond the current “wait and see” stalemate and generate “a committed orderbook . . . for 5–10 deployments of at least one reactor design by 2025.”

Idaho site achieves spent fuel milestone

March 30, 2023, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions
William “Ike” White addresses the audience at INTEC, which gathered to celebrate the completion of the spent fuel wet-to-dry project at the INL site. (Photo: DOE)

At Idaho National Laboratory, Department of Energy leaders joined tribal, state, and local officials; contractors; and workers on March 28 to mark a recent milestone with the state of Idaho nearly 25 years in the making. The milestone was the completion of a spent fuel wet-to-dry project more than nine months ahead of a 1995 Idaho Settlement Agreement deadline.

Get to know MCRE, the fast-spectrum MSR from Southern and TerraPower

March 30, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News
MCRE could be built inside the ZPPR cell (shown here) at INL’s Materials and Fuels Complex. (Photo: INL)

A tiny 200-kWt reactor the Department of Energy says would be the first critical fast-spectrum circulating fuel reactor and the first fast-spectrum molten salt reactor (MSR) could be built and operated inside the Zero Power Physics Reactor (ZPPR) cell at Idaho National Laboratory’s Materials and Fuels Center (MFC). Details included in the Molten Chloride Reactor Experiment (MCRE) draft environmental assessment (EA)released on March 16 for two weeks of public comment (later extended to four weeks, through April 14)—covered the potential environmental impacts associated with the development, construction, operation, and decommissioning of MCRE at INL, facilitated by the National Reactor Innovation Center (NRIC).