General Atomics’ silicon carbide composite cladding is put to the test

July 11, 2024, 7:00AMNuclear News
SiGA woven silicon carbide nuclear fuel cladding. (Photo: DOE)

Because of its hardness and its hardiness in the face of high temperatures, silicon carbide has been used for industrial purposes for decades. It has proven its worth as a key component of tiny TRISO fuel particles. But SiC has a weakness—in its pure form it is too brittle for use in structural components, such as 12-foot-long light water reactor fuel cladding tubes.

Mark Peters named MITRE president and CEO

July 9, 2024, 9:30AMNuclear News

Peters

Mark Peters will become president and chief executive officer of MITRE, effective September 3, 2024. He will succeed Jason Providakes, who previously announced his intention to retire after 37 years with the not-for-profit research and development company, including seven years as president and CEO.

Peters is a recognized expert in nuclear fuel cycle technologies, nuclear waste management, and national security, with more than 25 years of leadership and scientific discovery for federally funded R&D centers (FFRDCs). He currently serves as executive vice president, laboratory management and operations, at Battelle Memorial Institute, which, with other strategic partners, operates eight FFRDCs for the federal government, with responsibility for governance and oversight of the Department of Energy and Department of Homeland Security national laboratories.

ECA consortium to fund consent-based siting outreach

July 3, 2024, 9:36AMRadwaste Solutions

The Energy Communities Alliance, a membership organization of local governments adjacent to or impacted by Department of Energy sites, has awarded grants to three community organizations to develop avenues for inclusive public engagement and discussions of consent-based approaches to siting facilities for the interim storage of the nation’s spent nuclear fuel.

NPR focuses on SRS recruitment and training

July 2, 2024, 3:11PMNuclear News
SRS Apprenticeship Program graduates Terrence Tillman (far right) and Shanterra Hughes share their recent apprenticeship experiences with NPR host David Brancaccio (center) and NPR sound engineer Rebekah Wineman. (Photo: DOE)

A new radio series on National Public Radio’s “Marketplace Morning Report” recently highlighted career opportunities and job training at the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site.

To listen to the radio segment, click here.

Latest electricity cost estimates get new details on nuclear

July 1, 2024, 12:00PMNuclear News

Every year, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) puts out a set of technology-specific cost and performance parameters for electricity generation. Now in its 10th year, the Electricity Annual Technology Baseline (ATB) has nearly 100,000 users from 144 countries, according to NREL. Utility planners and grid operators who look to the ATB to assess their investment options in a changing market require complete and accurate information and will be glad to know that the 2024 Electricity ATB, released June 24, includes—for the first time—a range of data on nuclear energy.

With $3.4 billion to spend, the DOE opens RFP for low-enriched uranium

June 28, 2024, 12:01PMNuclear News

The Department of Energy released an anticipated request for proposals on June 27 for low-enriched uranium enrichment. “Today’s action will help spur the safe and responsible build-out of uranium enrichment capacity in the United States, promote diversity in the market, and provide a reliable supply of commercial nuclear fuel to support the energy security and resilience of the American people and domestic industries, free from Russian influence,” the DOE declared.

ANS Annual Conference: Nuclear waste

June 27, 2024, 3:03PMNuclear News
The waste management panel, from left: moderator Todd Allen, Fred Dilger of Nevada, Katrina McMurrian of the NWSC, the DOE’s Paul Murray, Jenifer Shafer of ARPA-E, and Kuhika Gupta of the University of Oklahoma. (Photo: ANS)

With increasing demand for clean, reliable, and safe sources of energy, the conversation around nuclear energy is changing. And so too is the conversation around nuclear waste, even as the country struggles to find a path for the disposal of its spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste. From community engagement, to recycling, to existing success around other forms of nuclear waste management, the conversation around nuclear waste has many different angles, and an executive session of the American Nuclear Society’s 2024 Annual Conference in Las Vegas aimed to delve into some of those discussions.

Durable gallium-based transistors could improve reactor monitoring

June 27, 2024, 9:30AMNuclear News
Kyle Reed and Dianne Ezell of ORNL gather data about the performance of a sensor transistor as it is tested against the radiation within the reactor pool behind them at Ohio State University’s Nuclear Reactor Laboratory. (Photo: Michael Huson/The Ohio State University)

Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory want to make the sensors in nuclear power plants more accurate by linking them to electronics that can withstand the intense radiation inside a reactor. Electronics containing transistors made with gallium nitride, a wide-bandgap semiconductor, have been tested in the ionizing radiation environment of space. Now, according to a June 24 article from ORNL, tests carried out in the research reactor at Ohio State University indicate they could withstand neutron bombardment within a nuclear fission reactor.

GAIN vouchers tackle LWR risk modeling and advanced reactor fuel salts

June 27, 2024, 7:00AMNuclear News
Entergy’s River Bend in St. Francisville, La., a boiling water reactor and one of five Entergy nuclear power reactors. (Photo: Entergy)

The Department of Energy’s Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) announced June 20 that two companies—one power plant operator and one advanced reactor developer—are getting vouchers to access the extensive nuclear research capabilities and expertise available across the DOE national laboratories in the third round of GAIN vouchers awarded for fiscal year 2024. 

Simulated radiological release tests SRS response teams

June 26, 2024, 3:00PMNuclear News
SRS firefighters responded to a staged scene outside of K Area’s Criticality Control Overpack pad. The firefighters followed an Incident Action Plan to maximize the safety of responders and role-playing victims for effective extraction. (Photo: DOE/SRNS)

Earlier this month, nearly 250 personnel at the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site in South Carolina took part in an annual exercise to test preparedness for a radiological release and contamination emergency.

DOE approves safety design strategy for Radiant microreactor test plan

June 12, 2024, 12:01PMNuclear News
Concept art showing the delivery of Radiant’s Kaleidos to the DOME test bed. (Image: Radiant Industries/Ryan Seper)

Radiant Industries announced on June 4 that the safety design strategy (SDS) for a test of its Kaleidos microreactor in the National Reactor Innovation Center’s DOME test bed at Idaho National Laboratory now has approval from the Department of Energy. Radiant hopes to test Kaleidos—a 1-MW high-temperature, gas-cooled reactor—by 2026 and then market portable commercial reactors to power remote locations and provide backup or primary power for critical applications in hospitals or for disaster relief.

Past DOE officials reflect on their tenures and future of nuclear industry

June 10, 2024, 3:04PMANS News

At the “Past Department of Energy Nuclear Energy Officials Roundtable” webinar on May 20, the American Nuclear Society gathered six past assistant secretaries for the Office of Nuclear Energy for a very special discussion. The group of stellar leaders, who have shaped the current state of innovation and growth around nuclear energy, shared insights from their time as NE-1 and their perspectives about where we must go from here.

New fusion energy strategies and partnerships announced at White House event

June 10, 2024, 12:00PMNuclear News

Just one week after the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy hosted a summit on domestic nuclear deployment, they filled a room again on June 6 for a livestreamed event cohosted with the Department of Energy to announce a new DOE fusion energy strategy and new public-private partnership programs, and to hear directly from stakeholders—including scientists, private fusion companies, investors, and end users—during panel discussions on fusion science and technology progress and the path to fusion energy commercialization.

DOE announces first clean energy project for INL

June 10, 2024, 9:31AMRadwaste Solutions
The Materials and Fuels Complex at INL. (Photo: INL)

The Department of Energy will enter into lease negotiations with two solar energy developers for 400 megawatts of solar electricity generation within the Idaho National Laboratory site. Announced on June 5, the projects are the first proposed projects selected under the department’s Cleanup to Clean Energy initiative, an effort to repurpose parts of DOE-owned lands—portions of which were previously used in the nation’s nuclear weapons program—into sites of clean-energy generation, including for solar, geothermal, wind, and nuclear.

Oklo’s Diané presents at Community of Practice

June 10, 2024, 7:00AMANS News

The American Nuclear Society’s Risk-informed, Performance-based Principles and Policy Committee (RP3C) held another Community of Practice (CoP) on April 26. For this event, the committee welcomed Mory Diané of Oklo. RP3C chair N. Prasad Kadambi led with a brief introduction before Diané shared Oklo's risk-informed, performance-based (RIPB) approach to seismic design categorization and seismic siting characterization.

Diané, a licensing manager with Oklo, is a structural engineer with a background in civil engineering

Xcimer raises $100 million to invest in inertial fusion laser tech

June 6, 2024, 3:00PMNuclear News
Xcimer Energy’s headquarters in Denver, Colo. (Photo: Xcimer Energy)

Xcimer Energy announced June 4 that it has raised $100 million in Series A financing for a new facility in Denver, Colo., that will host a prototype laser system with “the world’s largest nonlinear optical pulse compression system.” As a private fusion developer, Xcimer wants to “extend the proven science of inertial fusion to industrial scale” with the help of that laser system and “key technologies and innovations from multiple fields.”

The future has more in store for nuclear

June 6, 2024, 7:04AMNuclear NewsKen Petersen

Ken Petersen
president@ans.org

Big news as I write this, my last column as ANS president: Legislation has been passed that will ban the importation of uranium from Russia (though waivers can be used in certain circumstances to continue imports through 2027). This ban has been discussed since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. I am sure all U.S. utilities have followed their risk-management policies.

With two years to plan, appropriate-use waivers, and access to American Assured Fuel Supply, there should not be any disruption to domestic reactor operations. The ban will force the United States and our Western allies to be independent and stronger. Congress has helped by providing $2.72 billion to support new domestic enrichment capacity. The challenge now is for the Department of Energy to turn this into actual new capacity as quickly as possible.

U.S. represented at international meeting on nuclear security

June 5, 2024, 10:34AMUpdated June 5, 2024, 9:30AMNuclear News

During the 2024 International Conference on Nuclear Security (ICONS) in May, representatives from the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration discussed U.S. nuclear security priorities, noted their achievements and those of U.S. partners, and explained how to tackle the security challenges of today and tomorrow.

Savannah River Site's one-of-a-kind transporter makes pit stop

May 30, 2024, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
The Savannah River Site’s shielded canister transporter. (Photo: DOE)

The large vehicle used to transport highly radioactive canisters at the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site has completed a pit stop to ensure the continued movement of the site’s radioactive liquid waste work.

DOE ready to consider Russian U ban waivers

May 29, 2024, 7:01AMNuclear News

Utilities need to know months ahead of a scheduled refueling outage that fresh fuel will be on-site and ready to load. Now that the Prohibiting Russian Uranium Imports Act has been signed into law, U.S. utilities with plans to use Russian-origin low-enriched uranium also need to know if they can secure a waiver for imports through December 31, 2027—subject to specific annual limits—if “no alternative viable source of [LEU] is available to sustain the continued operation of a nuclear reactor or a United States nuclear energy company” or if LEU imports from Russia are “in the national interest.”