NEUP project to look at offshore nuclear power plants

September 2, 2022, 12:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Core Power, MIT Energy Initiative, and Idaho National Laboratory have secured research funding from the Department of Energy’s Nuclear Energy University Program (NEUP) to conduct a three-year study into the development of offshore floating nuclear power generation. This collaborative research effort is among the 74 nuclear research and infrastructure projects that were awarded more than $61 million by the DOE in June.

ABS to study nuclear for commercial maritime applications

August 19, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
The NS Savannah—the first merchant ship powered by a nuclear reactor.

The American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) has announced the launch of a research project that will look into barriers to the adoption of advanced nuclear propulsion for commercial vessels.

The $794,000 project, awarded to ABS last year by the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy, is now being formally contracted through the DOE’s U.S. Industry Opportunities for Advanced Nuclear Technology Development funding opportunity, according to ABS’s August 17 announcement. Support is to be provided by Idaho National Laboratory’s National Reactor Innovation Center (NRIC).

NRC returns to full strength with Caputo, Crowell confirmations

August 3, 2022, 3:06PMNuclear News

Crowell

Caputo

The Senate last evening confirmed by voice vote Annie Caputo and Bradley R. Crowell to seats on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, returning the agency to its full, five-member complement. Caputo’s term expires in June 2026, Crowell’s in June 2027.

Nominated by President Biden in May to serve on the commission, Caputo and Crowell appeared before the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee on June 8 to field questions. On July 27, the EPW Committee unanimously approved both and sent their nominations to the Senate floor.

USA summit combines industry business and charity fundraising

July 21, 2022, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe
John Wagner, director of Idaho National Laboratory and president of Batelle Energy Alliance, delivered the keynote address at the 26th Annual Nuclear Generator & Supplier Executive Summit. (Photo: USA)

The 26th Annual Nuclear Generator and Supplier Executive Summit, hosted by Utilities Service Alliance (USA), was held at the Coeur d’Alene Golf and Spa Resort in Idaho from June 28 through July 1. About 375 attendees were present for this year’s meeting, themed “Nuclear’s Next Wave” which featured presentations and discussions on emerging nuclear technologies and designs, as well as an integrated tradeshow with about 50 industry suppliers exhibiting products, services, and ideas.

New Mexico State collaborates on spent fuel recycling under ARPA-E program

July 12, 2022, 12:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

New Mexico State University is collaborating with TerraPower, Idaho National Laboratory, and Savannah River National Laboratory on a three-year project to develop a plan to recycle spent nuclear fuel. The project is being funded by an $8.5 million grant from the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E), under the Optimizing Nuclear Waste and Advanced Reactor Disposal Systems (ONWARDS) program. ONWARDS is designed to increase the use of nuclear power as a reliable, clean energy source, as well to as limit the amount of waste generated by advanced nuclear reactors.

Carbon value: Lifetime extensions of nuclear reactors could save billions in climate mitigation costs

June 24, 2022, 2:49PMNuclear NewsBeth Burmahl

On the road to achieving net-zero by midcentury, low- or no-carbon energy sources that slash carbon dioxide emissions are critical weapons. Nevertheless, the role of nuclear energy—the single largest source of carbon-free electricity—remains uncertain.

Nuclear energy, which provides 20 percent of the electricity in the United States, has been a constant, reliable, carbon-free source for nearly 50 years. But our fleet of nuclear reactors is aging, with more than half of the 92 operating reactors across 29 states at or over 40 years old—the length of the original operating licenses issued to the power plants. While some reactors have been retired prematurely, there are two options for those that remain: retire them or renew their license.

Fast reactor technology getting renewed attention

June 7, 2022, 12:04PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Fast reactor technology, which can run on used nuclear fuel to generate energy, could fulfill U.S. energy needs for 100 years using existing waste, according to Jess Gehin, associate lab director at Idaho National Laboratory and an ANS member in a recent interview with CNBC. Gehin and other nuclear experts believe that this technology could provide substantial energy for the country, help resolve the debate over storing spent nuclear waste, and address the issue of climate change with more carbon-free energy generation. However, the commercial development of fast reactor technology has been hampered by political and economic roadblocks, which researchers are now seeking to overcome.

DOE-NE 2023 budget priorities summarized in ANS online program

May 18, 2022, 11:59AMNuclear News

A team from the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy joined ANS Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer Craig Piercy on April 27 for an ANS members–only online event to discuss the Biden administration’s fiscal year 2023 NE budget proposal. The proposed total for the office, $1.675 billion, is more than a $20 million increase from the FY 2022 enacted level of $1.654 billion.

Profile published on head of MARVEL project at Idaho National Laboratory

May 12, 2022, 7:03AMANS Nuclear Cafe
Idaho National Laboratory nuclear engineer Yasir Arafat (Photo: INL)

From refugee in Bangladesh to top nuclear engineer at Idaho National Laboratory, ANS member Yasir Arafat has led quite an interesting life, as described in a recent online profile written by Donna Kemp Spangler for the INL website. Arafat is leading the development of the Department of Energy’s Microreactor Applications Research Validation and EvaLuation (MARVEL) project at INL. The profile notes that MARVEL, which Arafat envisioned soon after joining INL in 2019, is scheduled to be “built and demonstrated at INL’s Transient Reactor Test Facility and connected to the world’s first nuclear microgrid within two years.”

NICE Future: Fostering the international adoption of nuclear energy

March 11, 2022, 3:20PMNuclear NewsCory Hatch

Imagine life without refrigeration, television, clean cooking facilities, clean water, clothes washers, and electric lights. For the roughly 1 billion people around the world without access to electricity, energy poverty is a reality that drastically reduces their quality of life and economic opportunities.

At the same time, fossil fuels currently provide more than 60 percent of electricity and about 80 percent of energy worldwide, even as global carbon dioxide levels are higher than at any point in at least the past 800,000 years.

Input sought on Kairos test reactor construction permit

February 23, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is requesting public input on environmental issues that the agency should ponder as it reviews Kairos Power’s application for a construction permit to build the Hermes low-power demonstration reactor at the East Tennessee Technology Park in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

In a notice published in the February 18 Federal Register, the NRC says it will conduct a scoping process to gather information necessary to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the proposed project.

Letter of intent sets COLA submittal date for NuScale plant

February 8, 2022, 3:02PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Small modular reactor developer NuScale Power has informed the Nuclear Regulatory Commission via letter that a combined license application (COLA) for the Carbon Free Power Project’s SMR plant is expected to be submitted to the agency in January 2024. The COLA will be for a six-unit 77-MWe plant.

The public power consortium Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems launched the Carbon Free Power Project in 2015 to develop, own, and operate the nation’s first SMR plant, to be located at Idaho National Laboratory, with reactor technology supplied by NuScale.

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.

A call to action

January 17, 2022, 3:01PMNuclear NewsJohn C. Wagner

John C. Wagner

Like many of you, I have dedicated my career to the advancement of nuclear energy. We chose this path because clean energy changes lives. If we want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, end energy poverty, develop a U.S. power grid that is secure and resilient, and ensure national security, nuclear must be a significant part of the mix.

But let us acknowledge the reality of our situation. Nuclear power plants continue to close. New reactor projects are too often delayed by cost overruns and red tape. Not having solved the politics for a permanent repository, spent fuel sits at shut-down reactor sites.

We find ourselves perpetually running the hamster wheel, building paper reactors, and grinding our teeth as critics cloud public discourse by regurgitating old fears and clinging to the tired tropes of a bygone era.

Renewing a national treasure: INL’s Advanced Test Reactor undergoes sixth core overhaul

October 8, 2021, 3:31PMUpdated December 31, 2021, 4:16PMNuclear NewsJoseph Campbell; Photos by Joseph Campbell and Peter Ritchie, INL
The first of three phases of the Advanced Test Reactor’s sixth core overhaul culminated with the removal of the 31-ton stainless steel vessel top head on July 1, for the first time since 2004. The vessel and top head underwent extensive inspection, laser scanning, and upgrade as part of the overhaul. (Photo: JC)

As 2021 closes, Nuclear News is taking a look back at some of the feature articles published each month in the magazine. The October issue focused on plant maintenance and outage management with multiple articles looking at efficient ways to deal with plant maintenance. The article below looks at the herculean effort by INL to lead a full overhaul of the Advanced Test Reactor--a task that happens about every 10 years.

Out of the frenzy of nuclear technology and engineering development at the height of the Atomic Age, a few designs stand out above the rest—designs so innovative that they would not be surpassed for years, or even decades. An example of this unsurpassed design brilliance exists in the form of Idaho National Laboratory’s Advanced Test Reactor.

“ATR is really a beautiful machine,” said Sean O’Kelly, associate lab director for the ATR Complex. “The elegant cloverleaf core and control systems were a stroke of genius that solved just about every key problem of test reactor design. The designers’ solutions to those problems give us a testing capacity and flexibility that have yet to be matched.”

Senators probe nuclear priorities: HALEU, hydrogen, reactor siting, and more

November 5, 2021, 9:29AMNuclear News
From left, Shannon Bragg-Sitton, Paul Chodak, and Michael J. Guastella appear before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on November 4.

As Congress awaited key votes yesterday on spending bills that include production tax credits for at-risk plants and a new amendment adding $500 million in supplemental funding over five years to increase the availability of high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU), the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a Full Committee Hearing On Potential Non-Electric Applications Of Civilian Nuclear Energy. Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.V.), chairman of the committee, emphasized that “advanced nuclear reactors hold enormous potential to provide opportunity to communities across the country with zero-emission baseload power” and made it clear he expects new reactors to replace retiring coal plants in his home state of West Virginia.

Speaking before the committee were Shannon Bragg-Sitton of Idaho National Laboratory, Paul Chodak III of American Electric Power, and Michael J. Guastella of the Council of Radionuclides and Radiopharmaceuticals.

Conca implores Congress to rethink funding for the VTR

August 26, 2021, 3:02PMANS Nuclear Cafe
(Image: INL)

The nuclear community continues its collective push to restore funding for the Versatile Test Reactor (VTR) project at Idaho National Laboratory for fiscal year 2022. We first heard from the Department of Energy’s Katy Huff, followed by Argonne National Laboratory’s Jordi Roglans-Ribas. Now add Nuclear News opinion columnist James Conca to the list of supporters hoping to change the minds of those in Congress regarding the crucial VTR project.

Nine Mile Point picked for hydrogen demonstration project

August 20, 2021, 4:08PMNuclear News
Nine Mile Point (Photo: Constellation Energy)

Exelon Generation has received a grant from the Department of Energy to explore the potential benefits of on-site hydrogen production and has chosen its Nine Mile Point nuclear power plant as the demonstration site, the company announced on Wednesday. (In 2019, Exelon received a conditional commitment from the DOE to co-fund a hydrogen electrolyzer demonstration at a nuclear plant.) Located in Scriba, N.Y., Nine Mile Point consists of two boiling water reactors—the 620-MWe Unit 1 and the 1,287-MWe Unit 2.

NuScale, Xcel agree to explore future partnerships

August 18, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News
A still image from a three-part video tour of NuScale’s facilities. (Photos: NuScale Power)

NuScale Power has signed a memorandum of understanding with Xcel Energy to explore the feasibility of the utility’s serving as a plant operator at NuScale plants, the Portland, Ore.-based small modular reactor developer announced earlier this week.

Xcel owns and, through subsidiary Northern States Power Company, operates Minnesota’s two nuclear plants, Monticello and Prairie Island. The Monticello facility houses one 671-MWe boiling water reactor, while Prairie Island has twin 550-MWe pressurized water reactors.