ANS Winter Meeting: Addressing the spent fuel dilemma

December 3, 2021, 11:59AMRadwaste Solutions

The President’s Special Session at the 2021 ANS Winter Meeting and Technology Expo, held Thursday morning, explored the current impasse over the management of spent nuclear fuel in the United States, with leaders from Congress and representatives from the Department of Energy and the U.S. Government Accountability Office sharing the work they are doing in an effort to break that impasse.

ANS Winter Meeting: What it will take to “Fuel our Nuclear Future"

December 1, 2021, 3:01PMNuclear News

The 2021 ANS Winter Meeting and Technology Expo began this morning with a Opening Plenary Session chaired by Winter Meeting general chair Amir Vexler, president and chief executive officer of Orano USA. It was an opportunity to both celebrate achievements that are already building a “Nuclear Future” and to identify needs and challenges ahead.

Influential speakers from the U.S. Congress, the Department of Energy, and the Nuclear Energy Institute joined ANS president Steven Nesbit and ANS CEO/executive director Craig Piercy to explore key issues associated with the front end of the nuclear fuel cycle, including supply and demand for high-assay, low-enriched uranium (HALEU). They didn’t stop there, however. They took questions from an in-person and virtual audience that probed other requirements of a sustainable nuclear future, including fueling a human resources pipeline.

DOE resumes consent-based siting process for spent fuel storage

December 1, 2021, 12:03PMRadwaste Solutions
Spent fuel in dry cask storage at the closed Kewaunee nuclear power plant. (Photo: NAC International)

The Department of Energy has restarted its consent-based siting process for identifying sites to store the nation’s spent nuclear fuel. Yesterday, the DOE issued a request for information that “will be used to further develop DOE’s consent-based siting process and overall waste management strategy in an equitable way.”

Save the VTR!

December 1, 2021, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe
Artist's rendition of the Versatile Test Reactor. (Source: DOE)

NNSA expands Minority Serving Institution Partnership Program

November 24, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News

The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration has awarded nine grants totaling $38.8 million to build more partnerships with minority-serving institutions (MSIs), leverage untapped students, and expand its talent pipeline. Known as the Minority Serving Institution Partnership Program (MSIPP), it now has 24 active consortia partnerships encompassing 46 schools.

Countdown to fission on the moon: Candidate designs wanted

November 23, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News
Artist’s concept of a fission surface power system on Mars. (Image: NASA)

NASA and Idaho National Laboratory have just opened a competitive solicitation for U.S. nuclear and space industry leaders to develop innovative technologies for a fission surface power system that could be deployed on the surface of the moon by the end of the decade. Battelle Energy Alliance, the managing and operating contractor for INL, issued a request for proposals and announced the news on November 19. Proposals are due February 17.

ARDP recipient Southern announces molten salt fast reactor demonstration plans

November 19, 2021, 9:29AMNuclear News
The Molten Chloride Reactor Experiment will be built at Idaho National Laboratory to demonstrate criticality in a fast-spectrum salt-cooled reactor within five years. (Image: Southern Company)

Southern Company and the Department of Energy have announced an agreement to demonstrate the world’s first fast-spectrum salt reactor in collaboration with TerraPower and a host of other participants at Idaho National Laboratory. With this announcement, at least four of the DOE’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Project awardees featuring four different coolants—helium (X-energy), sodium (TerraPower), fluoride salt (Kairos Power), and chloride salt (Southern, with TerraPower)—have announced a site and a commitment to build either a full-size demo reactor or a scaled-down experimental reactor.

Rickover Fellowship Program open for applications

November 18, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News

The Department of Energy’s Naval Reactors Division is seeking applicants for its Rickover Fellowship Program in Nuclear Engineering for 2022-2023. The deadline for application submissions is January 31.

Application forms are available at the South Carolina Universities Research and Education Foundation (SCUREF) website. Applicants should submit all materials electronically through this site.

Microsoft: Nuclear help wanted

November 17, 2021, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Microsoft, the America-based multinational technology corporation that produces computer software, consumer electronics, personal computers, and related services, is looking for a director of nuclear technologies engineering.

Published this week on LinkedIn, the job announcement states, “We are looking for a Nuclear Technologies Engineer to research methods of utilizing nuclear energy and design useful nuclear systems. You’ll monitor and report on engineering processes, including nuclear waste disposal and safety regulations. You will handle complex machinery and resolve on-site emergencies.”

The successful candidate can be based anywhere in the U.S., the announcement added.

X-energy has work ahead in quest to build TRISO-X fuel facility, Xe-100 reactor

November 10, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News
The TRISO-X fuel pebble shown here contains TRISO particles—HALEU-bearing kernels of oxide and carbide in alternating layers of pyrolytic carbon and silicon carbide. (Image: X-energy)

X-energy and Centrus Energy announced last week that they have completed the preliminary design of the TRISO-X fuel fabrication facility and have signed a contract for the next phase of work. The planned facility would produce TRISO fuel particles and pack those particles into fuel forms, including the spherical graphite “pebbles” needed to fuel X-energy’s Xe-100 high-temperature gas reactor.

DOE looks to dispose of Hanford tank waste as LLW

November 9, 2021, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
Crews pump waste from Hanford’s single-shell tanks to more stable double-shell tanks. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy is considering solidifying 2,000 gallons of Hanford’s tank waste and disposing of it as low-level radioactive waste at an off-site facility. A virtual public meeting on the proposed disposal plan is scheduled for November 18.

The big nuclear world

November 3, 2021, 7:01AMANS NewsSteven P. Nesbit

Steven P. Nesbit

As I write this column, it’s late September, and I’m sitting in Dulles Airport waiting for my connecting flight back to Charlotte from Vienna, Austria, where I attended the 65th General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency. It was quite an experience, and I want to share a few observations with you. But first, let me provide some background on the IAEA, which is perhaps not as well-­known to Americans as to those in other countries.

The IAEA was established in 1957 within the United Nations family and as an outgrowth of President Dwight Eisenhower’s famous 1953 “Atoms for Peace” speech. It is the world’s central intergovernmental forum for scientific and technical cooperation in the nuclear field. The objectives of the IAEA’s dual mission—to promote and control the use of the atom—are defined in Article II of the IAEA Statute.

Spotlight On: The ANS Decommissioning and Environmental Sciences Division

October 28, 2021, 7:02AMRadwaste SolutionsANS

“A group of professionals having fun in the fields of decommissioning and environmental sciences for the nuclear industry.”

That’s how the ANS DESD describes itself on its website. The focus of this professional division is the development and use of skills and technologies needed for the optimal management of the end-­of-­life care (decommissioning, decontamination, and remediation), long-­term surveillance, and maintenance of nuclear installations, materials, facilities, and sites.

INL captures one dramatic second of a fuel rod test in slow motion

October 27, 2021, 3:13PMNuclear News

Idaho National Laboratory recently released footage of a new experiment at its Transient Reactor Test Facility (TREAT) that simulates what happens to a nuclear fuel pin when it starts to overheat. Go to Twitter for the original post, or cut to the chase and watch a 14-second clip on YouTube.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission

October 26, 2021, 12:06PMNuclear NewsSteven P. Nesbit

Steven P. Nesbit

Depending on where you reside on this nuclear technology world of ours, you may care a great deal, or not at all, about who happens to be sitting on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission at any given point in time. If you live on the Department of Energy continent or the Academia continent, it’s probably not a big deal. If you are on the Nuclear Power Plant Operator continent or the Vendor continent (which are actually part of the same landmass), it is quite important. If you are on the NRC island, it’s huge.

The NRC comprises five presidentially appointed, U.S. Senate–confirmed commissioners who are commonly referred to as “the Commission,” and approximately 3,000 federal employees referred to as the staff. The Commission oversees the NRC staff; together, they license and regulate the nation’s civilian use of radioactive materials to provide reasonable assurance of adequate protection of public health and safety. The president of the United States designates one of the commissioners to serve as chairman, the principal executive officer of and the official spokesperson for the agency.

ORNL researchers employ extraction probe for rapid safeguards analysis

October 19, 2021, 7:29AMNuclear News
ORNL’s Benjamin Manard places a swipe on the extraction stage of Advion’s Plate Express, a microextraction tool that has been paired with a mass spectrometer. (Photo: Carlos Jones/ORNL, DOE)

International nuclear safeguards verification relies on a precise count of isotope particles collected on swipes during International Atomic Energy Agency inspections of nuclear facilities and isolated through a series of lengthy chemical separations that can take about 30 days to complete. On October 15, Oak Ridge National Laboratory—a member of the IAEA’s Network of Analytical Laboratories (NWAL)—announced that analytical chemists at the site have developed a faster way to measure isotopic ratios of uranium and plutonium collected on swipes, which could help IAEA analysts detect the presence of undeclared nuclear activities or material.

From the pages of Nuclear News: Industry update

October 14, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News

Here is a recap of industry happenings over the course of the past month:

ADVANCED REACTOR MARKETPLACE

Ukraine’s Energoatom signs deals for nuclear power exploration and deployment

Energoatom, the state-owned nuclear utility of Ukraine, and Westinghouse Electric Company have signed an agreement to bring Westinghouse AP1000 reactors to multiple sites in Ukraine. The signing took place at the U.S. Department of Energy headquarters in Washington, D.C., and was witnessed by Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky, U.S. energy secretary Jennifer Granholm, and Ukraine’s energy minister German Galushchenko.

In addition, Energoatom signed a memorandum of understanding with NuScale Power to explore small modular reactor deployment in Ukraine. Under the MOU, NuScale will support Energoatom’s examination of NuScale’s SMR technology, including a feasibility study for proposed project sites and the development of a project timeline and deliverables, cost studies, technical reviews, licensing and permitting activities, and project-specific engineering studies and design work.

DOE releases its climate adaptation and resilience plan

October 11, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News

The Department of Energy has released its 2021 Climate Adaptation and Resilience Plan, outlining steps that it will take to ensure its facilities and operations adapt to and are increasingly resilient to the impacts of a changing climate. As announced by the White House last week , the DOE was one of more than 20 federal agencies to release climate change plans, which were developed in response to President Biden’s executive order on tackling the climate crisis, issued in January.

Palo Verde gets $20 million to make hydrogen while the sun shines

October 8, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News
APS’s Palo Verde plant

Arizona Public Service is the latest nuclear utility with confirmed plans to install hydrogen production capacity, an investment decision that is based on analysis conducted under the Department of Energy’s H2@Scale program and backed by a $20 million DOE award.