Idaho’s IWTU reaches 100 percent radiological operations

May 25, 2023, 12:00PMRadwaste Solutions
DOE-EM’s Greg Sosson (standing) views Integrated Waste Treatment activity during the facility’s first day of radiological operations. (Photo: DOE)

After initial runs using a mix of radiological waste and nonradioactive simulant, the Integrated Waste Treatment Unit (IWTU) at the Idaho National Laboratory site has progressed to treating sodium-bearing waste entirely, the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (DOE-EM) announced on May 22.

MARVEL’s nonnuclear twin—PCAT—readied for testing this summer

May 24, 2023, 7:00AMNuclear News
INL prepares to ship PCAT by truck to Pennsylvania for testing. (Photo: INL)

An electric-powered prototype of MARVEL, the tiny microreactor designed and planned for operation inside the Transient Reactor Test (TREAT) facility at Idaho National Laboratory, has successfully been installed at a manufacturing facility in Pennsylvania ahead of a testing program that could begin as early as July, the Department of Energy announced on May 22.

Oklo to deploy two Aurora plants in Ohio

May 19, 2023, 9:01AMNuclear News
A rendering of Oklo’s Aurora Powerhouse. (Image: Oklo)

Santa Clara, Calif.–based Oklo is planning to build its second and third commercial Aurora Powerhouse nuclear plants in southern Ohio, the company announced yesterday. The advanced reactor developer received a site permit in December 2019 from the Department of Energy to build its initial Aurora facility at Idaho National Laboratory.

According to the announcement, Oklo has signed an agreement with the Southern Ohio Diversification Initiative (SODI), a community-reuse organization, to deploy two 15-MWe plants on land owned by SODI at the Portsmouth site near Piketon, Ohio. The DOE began transferring parcels of the Portsmouth site—home to the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, now undergoing decontamination and decommissioning—to SODI in June 2018 for economic development.

INL waste treatment plant increases production

May 17, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News
DOE-EM officials, IWTU employees, and others signed the first stainless steel canister prior to crews filling it with sodium-bearing waste and simulant. Once filled, that canister and 15 others were placed in a concrete vault for storage. (Photo: DOE)

Since the launch of operations just over a month ago, the Integrated Waste Treatment Unit (IWTU) at Idaho National Laboratory has increased sodium-bearing waste treatment fivefold. This activity is a vital step in removing the remaining liquid waste from nearby underground tanks at the site and protecting the underlying Snake River Plain Aquifer.

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.

Olsen: ANS scholarships provide stepping stone to career goals

April 25, 2023, 12:08PMANS News
Olsen was part of the IAEA team that inspected the Rivne nuclear power plant in Ukraine last year. (Photo: IAEA)

Student members are the future of the American Nuclear Society, and ANS believes in the importance of supporting students those who have shown academic, service, and leadership excellence as they navigate their early careers. Robert Olsen, now a nuclear security officer with the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, Austria, was one such beneficiary.

Radiological operations of Idaho’s IWTU begin

April 12, 2023, 3:08PMRadwaste Solutions

IWTU operators prepare to introduce radiological sodium-bearing liquid waste into the facility Tuesday. (Photo: DOE)

More than a decade after construction was declared completed, Idaho’s long-delayed Integrated Waste Treatment Unit (IWTU) has begun radiological operations, the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) announced.

On Tuesday, crews at the Idaho National Laboratory Site began sending radioactive sodium-bearing liquid waste from nearby underground tanks to the IWTU for treatment. The 900,000 gallons of waste was generated during decontamination activities following spent nuclear fuel reprocessing that ended in 1992.

The IWTU uses steam reforming fluidized-bed reactor technology to convert liquid waste to a granular solid resembling coarse sand more suitable for long-term disposal.

Idaho site achieves spent fuel milestone

March 30, 2023, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions
William “Ike” White addresses the audience at INTEC, which gathered to celebrate the completion of the spent fuel wet-to-dry project at the INL site. (Photo: DOE)

At Idaho National Laboratory, Department of Energy leaders joined tribal, state, and local officials; contractors; and workers on March 28 to mark a recent milestone with the state of Idaho nearly 25 years in the making. The milestone was the completion of a spent fuel wet-to-dry project more than nine months ahead of a 1995 Idaho Settlement Agreement deadline.

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).

DOE-NE offers inside look at FY 2024 budget request

March 24, 2023, 8:55AMNuclear News

While President Biden’s $6.9 trillion budget proposal for fiscal year 2024, submitted to Congress on March 9, was quickly pronounced “dead on arrival” by Sen. John Barrasso (R., Wyo.), it remains valuable as an indicator of the administration’s funding priorities for the coming year, including its nuclear energy priorities.

Which is why ANS on Wednesday hosted “An Inside Look at the FY 2024 Budget,” a members-only webinar moderated by ANS Executive Director/CEO Craig Piercy and featuring a team from the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy, including DOE-NE head Kathryn Huff.

Senate hearing focuses on securing the entire U.S. nuclear fuel cycle

March 14, 2023, 9:39AMEdited March 14, 2023, 9:38AMNuclear News
In this screenshot from a video recording of the hearing, Huff, Wagner, and Dominguez answer a series of questions from Sen. Manchin

“Right now, our country is deficient in nearly every aspect of the fuel cycle. This must change and it must change quickly,” said Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.V.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR), as he opened a Full Committee Hearing to Examine the Nuclear Fuel Cycle on March 9. “Whether it is uranium mining, milling, conversion, enrichment, nuclear fuel fabrication, power generation, or nuclear waste storage and disposal, there is much work to be done, starting with conversion and enrichment. Simply put, Russia dominates the global market, representing nearly half of the international capacity for both processes.”

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.

Idaho’s IWTU resumes heat-up following repairs

February 2, 2023, 7:01AMRadwaste SolutionsJohn Fabian

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) said that heat-up of Idaho’s Integrated Waste Treatment Unit (IWTU) resumed in January. Crews began heating the IWTU in December in preparation of radiological operations, but the facility was shut down 10 days later after operators noticed a small leak of nonradioactive material inside one of the unit’s processing cells.

Located at the DOE’s Idaho National Laboratory Site, the IWTU is intended to treat Idaho’s 900,000 gallons of sodium-bearing liquid waste, converting it to a solid using a steam-reforming process.

After repairs were made to the IWTU equipment responsible for the leak, crews removed a partial obstruction that was in a line into the carbon reduction reformer, a key treatment vessel in the steam-reforming process, EM said.

Deadline approaching for abstract submissions to the 2023 NETS conference

January 27, 2023, 7:01AMANS News

This year the American Nuclear Society’s Nuclear and Emerging Technologies for Space (NETS 2023) conference, which will be held May 7–11, 2023, in Idaho Falls, Idaho, is focusing on powering the next era of space exploration through nuclear-enabled technologies and is sure to be the can’t-miss event of the year for those in the aerospace community.

National laboratories: Open for business like never before

January 25, 2023, 7:03AMNuclear NewsCorey McDaniel
Industry professionals visit INL as part of a U.S. Nuclear Industry Council Conference. (Photo: INL)

The Department of Energy’s commitment to breaking down market barriers with initiatives, programs, and access to facilities is making it simpler and more efficient than ever for industry to partner with national laboratories. It is especially timely, as the country continues to face evolving security, economic, and clean energy challenges. Partnering opportunities via the DOE’s Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs) and Strategic Partnership Projects (SPPs) are particularly prevalent in the commercial nuclear community and have seen a tremendous amount of funding and support dedicated to advancing the development, demonstration, and deployment of new reactor technologies.

Cell leak delays startup of Idaho’s IWTU

January 19, 2023, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions

Ten days after beginning a heat-up process to prepare for radiological operations at Idaho’s Integrated Waste Treatment Unit (IWTU), operators noticed a small leak of nonradioactive, nonhazardous solids in a cell, resulting in the facility’s shutdown in late December, the Department of Energy announced on January 10.

THOR puts fast reactor fuel to the test in U.S.-Japan TREAT collaboration

January 17, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News
U.S. secretary of energy Jennifer Granholm and Japan’s minister of economy, trade, and industry Yasutoshi Nishimura lead energy discussions on January 9 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: DOE)

Researchers at Idaho National Laboratory have completed initial testing on a newly developed fuel test capsule that is expected to provide crucial performance data for sodium-cooled fast reactors. The Department of Energy announced on January 12 that the series of fuel testing experiments being carried out now at INL’s Transient Reactor Test Facility (TREAT) was developed through a joint project between the United States and Japan.

Idaho’s IWTU prepares for radiological operations

January 6, 2023, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions
The Integrated Waste Treatment Unit at the Idaho National Laboratory Site. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) said that the Integrated Waste Treatment Unit (IWTU), the radioactive liquid waste treatment facility at the Idaho National Laboratory Site, began its final heat-up in December prior to initiating radiological operations, planned for early this year.

IWTU crews were to follow a prescribed incremental process as the facility transitions from simulant to sodium-bearing waste (SBW), according to EM.

Two reports agree: Diverse advanced reactor fuel cycles can succeed

November 23, 2022, 6:39AMNuclear News

Advanced reactors and small modular reactors with strikingly different coolants and sizes offer an array of different benefits, but when it comes to fuel cycle issues, including spent fuel and waste, they have a lot in common with conventional light water reactors. Two reports released within the last week—a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) consensus committee report two years in the making and a Department of Energy study released by Argonne National Laboratory—address the timely topic of advanced reactor fuel cycle issues. While the NASEM committee ventured to define research and infrastructure needs to support the entire nuclear power fuel cycle, inclusive of new technologies, for decades to come, the DOE report compares the front- and back-end fuel cycle metrics of three reactor designs (from NuScale Power, TerraPower, and X-energy) that have been selected for DOE cost-share–funded demonstrations within this decade. Together, these reports provide assurance that the fuel cycle needs of a fleet of new reactors can be met and point to near-term research and planning needs.

GAIN’s Rachel Taow recognized as first C3E awardee from the nuclear field

November 8, 2022, 3:15PMNuclear News


Rachel Taow, who is the process modernization lead for the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) at Idaho National Laboratory, received an award in the category of law and finance during the 11th Annual C3E Women in Clean Energy Symposium and Awards, held on November 2 in Washington, D.C. Taow has 16 years of government contracting experience—the last six spent with GAIN—and was nominated for the award by GAIN director Christine King.

The Clean Energy Education & Empowerment (C3E) Initiative was created in 2010 to close the gender gap in clean energy fields, and since 2012, outstanding mid-career women in clean energy have been recognized at the annual C3E symposium. Nine women received awards this year, including—for the first time in the 11 years of the C3E award program—a woman working to advance nuclear energy.