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.

NRC looking to fill open ACRS position

September 9, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear News

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is seeking qualified candidates for an open position on its Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards. The ACRS is an advisory group that provides independent technical review of, and advice on, matters related to the safety of existing and proposed nuclear facilities and on the adequacy of proposed reactor safety standards. It also advises the NRC on health physics and radiation protection issues.

Interested individuals can find candidate criteria and details in the Federal Register notice published on September 8 and available on the NRC’s website. Resumes will be accepted until December 7.

Resumes should be sent to Makeeka Compton and Jamila Perry, ACRS, Mail Stop T2B50, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001, or e-mailed to Makeeka.Compton@nrc.gov and Jamila.Perry@nrc.gov.

More information on the ACRS is available on the NRC’s website.

NRC's RIC: A clear line of sight for accident tolerant fuel deployment

March 12, 2021, 3:02PMNuclear News

To nuclear fuel suppliers, today’s operating reactors represent a defined customer base with predictable demands. Utilities must order their next fuel reload far in advance of an outage; enrichers and fabricators work to fill those orders. Adapting such a highly optimized supply chain to accommodate new products—fuels with new materials, claddings, and higher enrichments and burnups—will require alignment between all parties involved to meet the associated research, enrichment, manufacturing, regulatory, transportation, and operating experience needs.

That was the consensus during “Current Accident Tolerant Fuel Environment,” a technical session held on March 9 during the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's four-day Regulatory Information Conference (RIC, March 8-11). The session was chaired by NRC Chairman Christopher Hanson, who was taking part in his first RIC as a member of the commission.

Congress set to pass year-end funding bill

December 22, 2020, 12:08PMNuclear News

The final text of the approximately 5,600-page Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021 was released on December 22. While the timing of final passage is still fluid, the Senate was expected to approve it and send it on to President Trump to sign into law, according to John Starkey, American Nuclear Society government relations director.

Below are some key funding highlights from the legislation pertaining to nuclear energy.

Senators press Trump for answers on Saudi nuclear capabilities

August 21, 2020, 10:08AMNuclear News

Van Hollen

Amid news stories of possible undeclared nuclear facilities in Saudi Arabia and China's involvement with them (see here and here, for instance), Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D., Md.) on August 19 led a bipartisan group of senate colleagues in sending a letter to President Trump requesting more information on the matter.

Cosigners included Sens. Rand Paul (R., Ky.), Jeff Merkley (D., Ore.), Susan Collins (R., Maine), Tim Kaine (D., Va.), and Jerry Moran (R., Kan.).

ARC signs on as potential Centrus HALEU customer

May 1, 2020, 1:32PMNuclear News

High-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) is the fuel of choice for many advanced reactor developers, including Advanced Reactor Concepts, which is designing the ARC-100, a sodium-cooled fast reactor. Developers face a potential supply problem, however: The United States has no clear path to build the commercial HALEU production facilities that would be needed to fuel a fleet of advanced reactors. A letter of intent signed by ARC and Centrus Energy, announced on April 28, calls for cooperation on the deployment of a commercial supply of HALEU and could lead to a HALEU purchase agreement for ARC-100 deployments in the late 2020s.