Cost drivers of nuclear steam cycle construction

May 20, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear NewsDaniel Moneghan

Interest in reducing carbon emissions around the world continues to climb. As a complement to the increasing deployment of variably generating renewables, advanced nuclear is commonly shown in net-zero grid modeling for 2050 because it represents firm electricity production that can flex in output with load demands.1 However, these projections are challenged by the high levelized cost of electricity associated with legacy nuclear construction, which is often more than double that of modern combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plants.

The need for a metallic nuclear fuels qualification plan

February 4, 2022, 3:13PMNuclear NewsHank Hogan, Steven Hayes, Nicolas Woolstenhulme, and Colby Jensen

Positioning nuclear power to combat climate change requires the rollout of advanced reactors to replace carbon-­emitting power generation. That necessity, and its urgency, is reflected in recent budget proposals for the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy. Part of that proposed funding focuses on deploying new fuel technologies.

Metallic fuels, which are alloys of fissionable material, offer several advantages, including more fuel-­efficient reactors with a double or greater fuel burnup than the oxide fuels found in light water reactors. Fuel fabrication is also more cost-­effective with metallic fuels than with oxide fuels. Furthermore, much of the research and development effort needed to qualify these metallic fuels has been done.

Rita Baranwal joins Westinghouse as chief technology officer

January 20, 2022, 7:02AMNuclear News


Westinghouse Electric Company has appointed ANS member and Fellow Rita Baranwal chief technology officer to drive next-generation solutions for existing and new markets that align with the company’s strategy.

Baranwal’s appointment marks her return to Westinghouse, where she worked for nearly a decade in leadership positions in the global technology development, fuel engineering, and product engineering groups.

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.

EPRI: U.S. “50 by 30” climate goal requires swift, economy-wide action

November 15, 2021, 3:04PMANS Nuclear Cafe

In April, President Biden announced a new U.S. climate target: a 50–52 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below 2005 levels by 2030. It’s an ambitious goal, and one that’s right up there with recent climate declarations from Canada, the European Union, and the United Kingdom. It’s also one that, according to a new analysis from the Electric Power Research Institute, will require immediate action across all sectors of the economy.

Key findings of the EPRI report Strategies and Actions for Achieving a 50% Reduction in U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2030 include the following:

  • Halving GHG emissions by 2030 will involve significant efforts beyond business-as-usual trends.
  • Reaching implied decarbonization targets for the power sector involves accelerated and sustained change.
  • Electrification and efficiency gains drive GHG reductions in transport, industry, and buildings.
  • Consistent emission-reduction strategies for achieving the “50 by 30” goal are emerging, but fundamental questions remain about how to support immediate action while building systems for planning and investment that are adaptive to new information.

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.

2021 WMS: “No margin for error” in shipping radwaste

March 12, 2021, 12:00PMRadwaste Solutions


Noting that an increasing number of large components will need to be shipped from the growing number of nuclear power plants being decommissioned, Todd Eiler, director of decommissioning and decontamination engineering projects at EnergySolutions, said that the safety of nuclear waste transportation is paramount. “It is imperative as an industry that we do these shipments safely. There’s really no margin for error here,” Eiler said on March 11 during the 2021 Waste Management Symposia virtual conference panel session “Efficient and Effective Waste Management During the D&D of Nuclear Power Plants.”

While noting the stellar safety record of the nuclear industry in transporting radioactive waste, Eiler said that any incident involving a large component from a decommissioned nuclear reactor will cause national headlines, and that the industry needs to adopt a conservatism above and beyond what is already required by regulations.

As plant owners and decommissioning companies prepare to ship reactor components for disposal, Eiler said, entities that do not have direct regulatory oversight but may have some secondary involvement should not be overlooked. As an example, he said that when moving the San Onofre-1 reactor pressure vessel to Utah for disposal, EnergySolutions was not required by regulations to coordinate with the Federal Railroad Administration. “However, they are a stakeholder that definitely has authority over a project of that magnitude [where] you are transporting an irradiated component on the nation’s most in-demand rail infrastructure,” he said, adding that getting the administration’s input early in the project was important.

EPRI names Rita Baranwal as new VP of nuclear, CNO

January 12, 2021, 2:58PMANS Nuclear Cafe


The Electric Power Research Institute today announced Rita Baranwal as its new vice president of nuclear energy and chief nuclear officer. Baranwal succeeds Neil Wilmshurst, who was promoted to senior vice president of energy system resources in November.

Baranwal most recently served as the Department of Energy’s assistant secretary for its Office of Nuclear Energy, where she managed the DOE's portfolio of nuclear research for existing and advanced reactors and new designs. Baranwal unexpectedly resigned from that position late last week.

Bloomberg: Stanford prof a front runner to lead Biden DOE

November 12, 2020, 3:01PMANS Nuclear Cafe


Arun Majumdar, a professor of mechanical engineering at Stanford University and former vice president for energy at Google, is a leading contender for secretary of energy in a Biden administration, according to a November 12 Bloomberg story.

Chosen on November 10 to lead Biden’s Department of Energy transition team, Majumdar was also the first director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-–Energy (ARPA-E), serving in that role from 2009 to 2012. Bloomberg quotes Jeff Navin, director of external affairs at TerraPower, as saying, “He had as good relationships with Republicans as he did with Democrats as the first director of ARPA-E, and he took the time to get to know key legislators personally.”

DOE funds EPRI welding work to support NuScale demonstration

August 17, 2020, 12:08PMNuclear News

The Department of Energy announced on August 14 that $5.1 million would go to the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) to develop modular-in-chamber electron beam welding capabilities to support reactor pressure vessel welding for NuScale Power’s small modular reactor design. The project has a total value of nearly $6.5 million, of which the DOE will provide about $5.1 million.

Web workshop: Separating nuclear reactors from the power block with heat storage

July 27, 2020, 3:06PMANS News

A three-part free webinar workshop, Separating Nuclear Reactors from the Power Block with Heat Storage: A New Power Plant Design Paradigm, will run for three upcoming Wednesdays, starting this week on July 29. The workshop is being hosted jointly by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Idaho National Laboratory (INL), and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI).