INL and Colorado School of Mines strengthen research relationship

February 1, 2024, 12:00PMNuclear News

Idaho National Laboratory announced on January 31 that it is expanding its research partnership with the Colorado School of Mines (Mines). Representatives from the two institutions signed a memorandum of understanding in October that outlines a framework for collaboration on research into energy storage, high-temperature fuel cells, geothermal energy systems, the nuclear fuel cycle and reactor engineering, environmental science, and next-generation mining science and engineering.

National lab partnerships speed nuclear deployment

December 15, 2023, 4:56PMNuclear NewsDonna Kemp Spangler and Joel Hiller
BWXT’s microreactor components would be designed to be transported directly from the factory to the deployment site. (Image: BWXT)

“The tools of the academic designer are a piece of paper and a pencil with an eraser. If a mistake is made, it can always be erased and changed. If the practical-reactor designer errs, he wears the mistake around his neck; it cannot be erased. Everyone sees it.”

Many in the nuclear community are familiar with this sentiment from Admiral Rickover. A generation of stagnation in the industry has underscored the truth of his words. But as economies around the world put a price on carbon emissions, there’s a renewed sense of urgency to deploy clean energy technologies. This shifts the global balance of economic competitiveness, and it’s clear that the best path forward for nuclear requires combining the agility of private innovators with the technology and capabilities of national laboratories.

Issues on microreactors and irradiation experiments planned for ANS's Nuclear Science and Engineering

December 14, 2023, 3:03PMANS News

Two teams of guest editors from Idaho National Laboratory have announced plans for special issues of the American Nuclear Society's Nuclear Science and Engineering, the nuclear community’s longest-running technical journal. Abdalla Abou Jaoude and Abderrafi M. Ougouag are leading the NSE issue Technical Challenges and Opportunities in the Development and Deployment of Microreactors, while Joseph Nielsen and Piyush Sabharwall are organizing the NSE issue Irradiation Experiments Supporting Advanced Nuclear Technologies.

Construction of Hermes test reactor approved

December 13, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News
Concept art for a Hermes plant. (Image: Kairos Power)

Kairos Power has received the go-ahead from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to build its Hermes demonstration reactor at the Heritage Industrial Park in Oak Ridge, Tenn., making it the first non–light water reactor approved for construction in the United States in more than 50 years.

The design and legacy of Experimental Breeder Reactor-II

November 22, 2023, 4:16PMNuclear NewsJeremy Hampshire
Experimental Breeder Reactor-II (Photo: ANL)

If you head west out of Idaho Falls on U.S. Highway 20 and make your way across the Snake River Plain, it won’t be long before you’ll notice a silver dome in the distance to the north. One of the most recognizable structures in the history of nuclear energy, Experimental Breeder Reactor-II stands out from the desert landscape. The 890-square-mile site on which EBR-II is located is the former National Reactor Testing Station, now known as Idaho National Laboratory.

Operations begin at IET multiloop molten-salt test system

October 6, 2023, 12:05PMNuclear News
The Integrated Effects Test at TerraPower’s laboratory in Everett, Wash. (Photo: Southern Company/TerraPower)

Southern Company, TerraPower, and Core Power (a U.K.-based firm focused on developing nuclear technologies for the maritime sector) have commenced pumped-salt operations in the Integrated Effects Test (IET) facility, the Atlanta, Ga.-based utility announced Tuesday, marking another milestone in the development of TerraPower’s first-of-a-kind, Generation IV Molten Chloride Fast Reactor (MCFR).

Wyoming invites BWXT to assess microreactors for the state

September 18, 2023, 7:00AMNuclear News

Concept art of the BANR microreactor system. (Image: BWXT)

BWX Technologies last week announced a contract with the Wyoming Energy Authority (WEA) to evaluate the viability of deploying microreactors in the state.

The Lynchburg, Va., tech firm said its BWXT Advanced Technologies subsidiary will execute the two-year, two-phase agreement in close consultation with the state government and other Wyoming organizations and companies.

FEIS for Hermes construction permit recommends approval

August 22, 2023, 9:32AMNuclear News
Conceptual art of the Hermes low-power demonstration reactor. (Image: Kairos Power)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff has completed its final environmental impact statement (FEIS) for Kairos Power’s application to build the Hermes demonstration reactor in Oak Ridge, Tenn., and is advising that the construction permit (CP) be issued.

“After weighing the environmental, economic, technical, and other benefits against environmental and other costs, and considering reasonable alternatives, the NRC staff recommends, unless safety issues mandate otherwise, that the NRC issue the CP to Kairos,” the FEIS states.

Cracking the code to transition a ‘paper reactor’ to a practical reactor

August 11, 2023, 3:44PMNuclear NewsYasir Arafat
PCAT is prepared for transport from INL to Pennsylvania for testing. (Photo: INL)

As global concerns about climate change and energy sustainability intensify, the need for cleaner and more efficient energy sources is more critical than ever. Nuclear power consistently emerges as an important part of the solution, driving the development of innovative technologies. While numerous fission technologies were built and proven in the early days of nuclear energy, times and regulations have changed. Between the 1950s and mid-1970s, Idaho National Laboratory built 52 reactors—then paused for five decades. Can this nation return to the frontier once again, embarking on new fission technologies? With a mature regulatory environment and increasing public support, how quickly can a new non–light water system be deployed in modern times?

UAMPS subsidiary applies to NRC to begin CFPP construction activities

August 1, 2023, 9:37AMNuclear News
Concept art of the six-module Carbon Free Power Project, to be sited at INL. (Image: NuScale)

CFPP LLC, the limited liability company established by Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) in 2020 to bring its Carbon Free Power Project to fruition, has applied to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a limited work authorization (LWA) to permit certain early project construction activities prior to the issuance of a combined license (COL). In a July 31 news release, CFPP said that should its application be approved, early-scope construction on the small modular reactor project would likely begin in mid-2025.

Gas-cooled reactors and Fort St. Vrain

July 21, 2023, 3:04PMNuclear NewsJeremy Hampshire
The National Reactor Testing Station (Photo: DOE)

Gas-cooled reactors have roots that reach way back to the development of early experimental reactors in the United States and Europe. In the United States, early experimental reactors at Oak Ridge and Brookhaven National Laboratories were air-cooled, as were early production reactors known as the “Windscale Piles” in the United Kingdom. Dragon, also located in the United Kingdon and operational from 1965 to 1976, used helium as the coolant and graphite as the moderator.

NRC advisors give nod to Hermes construction permit

June 2, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News
A rendering of the Hermes low-power demonstration reactor. (Image: Kairos Power)

Having completed its review of the construction permit application for Kairos Power’s Hermes test reactor early last month, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS) recently submitted its conclusions to the agency, recommending approval.

A Gateway to Artificial Intelligence for the Nuclear Industry

June 1, 2023, 11:37AMSponsored ContentNextAxiom

Imagine if your employees had a Virtual Assistant that could create condition reports, work requests, or plan work orders simply by asking for it. Or better yet, what if the Virtual Assistant could create work packages and plan your employees’ day automatically without even having to ask? How much more productive would we be if we all had a Virtual Assistant to help perform our work and capture and share our activities as they occurred?

Integrated energy systems: Transitioning to carbon-­free electricity, industry, and transportation

May 5, 2023, 3:03PMNuclear NewsCory Hatch and Richard Boardman
At INL’s HTSE testing facility, researchers are advancing hydrogen production by shepherding HTSE through a series of technological advancements, economic analyses, and testing. (Photo: INL)

On December 20, 1951, researchers used energy produced by Experimental Breeder Reactor-I near Arco, Idaho, to illuminate four 200-watt lightbulbs. Since then, utilities have built commercial nuclear power plants in the United States almost exclusively to generate electricity. This has worked well alongside other power generation and transmission infrastructure—large oil- and coal-fired, natural gas turbine or hydroelectric plants, and a relatively simple electrical grid designed to deliver reliable power.

Humanity is now embarking on an epic and complex energy transformation across the grid, industry, and transportation. Renewables like wind and solar are contributing an increasing share of carbon-free electricity to the grid, but that contribution is variable and hard to predict—sometimes those sources produce more electricity than the grid needs, and sometimes less.

Westinghouse unveils SMR version of AP1000

May 4, 2023, 3:01PMNuclear News
Rendering of a Westinghouse AP300 plant. (Image: Westinghouse)

At a virtual press conference this morning, Westinghouse Electric Company president and chief executive officer Patrick Fragman announced the launch of the AP300 small modular reactor, a 300-MWe, 900-MWth single-loop pressurized water reactor based on the company’s larger AP1000 unit. Fragman was joined at the conference by David Durham, president of energy systems for Westinghouse, and Rita Baranwal, the firm’s chief technology officer. The company also released a short video introducing the AP300 on YouTube.

DOE hosts Japanese officials from nuclear decommissioning group

April 5, 2023, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe
Pictured at the DOE's EM headquarters, from left, are Ana Han, foreign affairs specialist, EM International Program; Joceline Nahigian, director, EM Office of Intergovernmental and Stakeholder Programs; Scott Whiteford, deputy director, DOE Office of Legacy Management; William “Ike” White, EM senior advisor; Masaki Nakagawa, special advisor to executive directors, NDF; Tokuhiro Yamamoto, executive director, NDF; Shin Morita, managing director, International Affairs Group, NDF; Taro Hokugo, managing director, International Affairs Group, NDF; Jeff Avery, EM principal deputy assistant secretary; Angela Watmore, deputy assistant secretary, EM Office of Acquisition and Project Management; and Ming Zhu, EM senior advisor for laboratory policy. (Photo: DOE)

Representatives from the Japan Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corporation (NDF) recently visited the Department of Energy's Office of Environmental Management (EM) headquarters in Washington, D.C., and the Hanford Site in Washington state to promote collaboration and provide updates on the status and plans to decommission Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011, caused damage to the plant and surrounding communities. The NDF was created in September 2011 to oversee the decommissioning and cleanup of the plant, which is owned by the Tokyo Electric Power Company.

Get to know MCRE, the fast-spectrum MSR from Southern and TerraPower

March 30, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News
MCRE could be built inside the ZPPR cell (shown here) at INL’s Materials and Fuels Complex. (Photo: INL)

A tiny 200-kWt reactor the Department of Energy says would be the first critical fast-spectrum circulating fuel reactor and the first fast-spectrum molten salt reactor (MSR) could be built and operated inside the Zero Power Physics Reactor (ZPPR) cell at Idaho National Laboratory’s Materials and Fuels Center (MFC). Details included in the Molten Chloride Reactor Experiment (MCRE) draft environmental assessment (EA)released on March 16 for two weeks of public comment (later extended to four weeks, through April 14)—covered the potential environmental impacts associated with the development, construction, operation, and decommissioning of MCRE at INL, facilitated by the National Reactor Innovation Center (NRIC).

Locked in glass: The vitrification of LLW streams

March 10, 2023, 3:00PMRadwaste SolutionsAmanda Gilmore
A sample of GeoMelt glass. (Photos: Veolia)

When it comes to managing nuclear waste, technology is transforming the way some of the most problematic waste is handled. The idea to transform nuclear waste into glass was developed back in the 1970s as a way to lock away the waste’s radioactive elements and prevent them from escaping. For more than 40 years, vitrification has been used for the immobilization of high-level radioactive waste in many countries around the world, including the United States.

Study favors SMRs for use at future electric truck charging stations

January 23, 2023, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The use of small modular reactors would be an excellent, cost-effective way to recharge electric heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs), such as trucks, according to a recent study published in Applied Energy. The Idaho National Laboratory–funded study was conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan.