INL makes—and prepares to test—commercial-grade HALEU fuel

November 28, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News
The project team included (from left to right) Jennifer Watkins, Seth Ashby, and Adrian Wagner. (Photo: INL)

Researchers at Idaho National Laboratory in early 2023 manufactured commercial-grade high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) fuel pellets to the specifications of a General Electric accident tolerant fuel design, INL announced November 21. A team working at INL’s Experimental Fuels Facility at the Material and Fuels Complex fabricated about two dozen uranium dioxide pellets using HALEU enriched up to 15 percent U-235.

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.

Tank waste disposal

November 17, 2023, 3:01PMNuclear NewsChris O’Neil
The 2F Evaporator at SRS. (Photo: Savannah River Site Photography)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management is responsible for roughly 90 million gallons of radioactive liquid waste at Idaho National Laboratory, the Hanford Site in Washington state, and the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. About 900,000 gallons of waste are stored at INL, 56 million gallons at Hanford, and roughly 36 million at SRS. A further 400,000 gallons of waste from various operations are being stored at the Oak Ridge Site in Tennessee.

UAMPS and NuScale drop plans to build SMRs at INL

November 9, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News
Concept art of the six-module CFPP at INL, terminated before construction could begin. (Image: NuScale)

Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) and NuScale Power announced November 8 that they have mutually agreed to end the Carbon Free Power Project (CFPP)—a plan to build a set of 77-MWe pressurized water reactors, called NuScale Power Modules, at Idaho National Laboratory. The reactors were intended to provide power to INL and UAMPS customers in Utah and surrounding states with an anticipated start date of 2029.

Webinar showcases “Hispanic Excellence in the Nuclear Field”

November 6, 2023, 3:00PMNuclear News

In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month this year, which ran September 15-October 15, the American Nuclear Society hosted the webinar “Hispanic Excellence in the Nuclear Field” on September 20. The panelists shared insights from their accomplished careers and relayed personal anecdotes and practical advice to young nuclear professionals. They also voiced their thoughts about challenges and opportunities facing the Hispanic community in the field.

Three developers get FEEED funding to test microreactors in INL’s DOME

October 25, 2023, 3:01PMNuclear News

The Department of Energy’s National Reactor Innovation Center (NRIC) awarded $3.9 million to three advanced nuclear energy developers on October 23 to design experiments to test microreactor designs in the Demonstration of Microreactor Experiments (DOME) test bed at Idaho National Laboratory.

Progress touted in D&D of Idaho’s naval nuclear prototypes

October 25, 2023, 12:04PMRadwaste Solutions
Crews demolish one of two massive steam condensers at the Naval Reactors Facility’s A1W prototype reactor facility in Idaho. Click photo to enlarge (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management said that crews at the Idaho National Laboratory site are making “significant progress” decommissioning the Submarine 1st Generation Westinghouse (S1W) reactor, the prototype pressurized water reactor that supported the development of the USS Nautilus, the world’s first operational nuclear-powered submarine.

DOE issues additional Cleanup to Clean Energy RFIs

October 20, 2023, 9:32AMRadwaste Solutions

The Department of Energy has released two additional requests for information related to its Cleanup to Clean Energy initiative, which aims to repurpose certain DOE-owned lands—portions of which were previously used during the nation’s nuclear weapons program—into sites for clean energy generation, including include solar, geothermal, wind, and nuclear electricity.


October 12, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News
Idaho National Laboratory's TREAT reactor. (Photo: INL)

Researchers at Idaho National Laboratory have a new experimental tool to study nuclear fuel under simulated loss of coolant accident (LOCA) conditions in INL’s Transient Reactor Test (TREAT) Facility. A specialized experiment holder called a TWIST capsule holds a fuel sample surrounded by water, which can rapidly drain away during testing, simulating loss of coolant in a light water reactor environment.

With reactor gone, Halden project lives on in human factors research

October 5, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear NewsPaul Menser

When Norway’s Halden research reactor shut down in 2018, nuclear researchers around the world were forced to scramble. For 60 years, the Halden Reactor Project offered a 25-MWt boiling water reactor for research where scientists could expand their understanding of nuclear fuel reliability, reactor internals, plant procedures and monitoring, and human factors.

MARVEL prototype “fired up” as testing gets underway

September 25, 2023, 2:46PMNuclear News
The electrically heated PCAT replica of the MARVEL microreactor is installed and ready for testing at CEI’s facility in Pennsylvania. (Photo: DOE)

While initial operation of MARVEL, a tiny microreactor that will be installed and operated inside Idaho National Laboratory’s Transient Reactor Test (TREAT) Facility, might not occur until 2025, testing of a nonnuclear prototype is now under way at the New Freedom, Pa., manufacturing facility of Creative Engineers, Inc. (CEI). The Department of Energy announced the start of prototype testing on September 20.

Bringing nuclear history forward

September 21, 2023, 7:02AMNuclear NewsJeremy Hampshire

This year’s American Nuclear Society Annual Meeting was filled with great content, some of which was covered in the August issue of Nuclear News (beginning on p. 22). One of the meeting’s executive sessions, “Bringing Nuclear History Forward,” focused on advanced reactor (AR) history and was well attended. The United States—along with many countries around the world—is turning to nuclear to combat climate change. Part of this is funding new and innovative companies to create first-of-a-kind nuclear reactors to provide abundant and clean power. Looking at the current designs of interest to the community brings up interesting comparisons to the test and experimental reactors of the past. Test reactors like the Experimental Breeder Reactor-II (EBR-II), the Fast Flux Test Facility (FFTF), Peach Bottom, Fort St. Vrain, Germany’s AVR, and others now are more important than ever in providing insight, data, and operational lessons learned to develop the next generation of reactors.

ACU opens facility designed for advanced nuclear research

September 11, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News
ACU’s grand opening event for the Gayle and Max Dillard Science and Engineering Research Center. (Photo: ACU)

Abilene Christian University’s Gayle and Max Dillard Science and Engineering Research Center (SERC) has opened. SERC contains the Nuclear Energy eXperimental Testing Laboratory (NEXT Lab) and is the future home of one of the first advanced reactors in the United States. More than 300 people were on hand to celebrate the opening and tour the facility, including donors, government officials, and scientists from ACU and other research institutions.

DOE delegation visits Japan for info exchange

September 1, 2023, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
DOE-EM senior advisor Ike White provided remarks to the audience during 7th International Forum on the Decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. (Photo: DOE)

Senior advisor Ike White and others with the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management traveled to Japan this week to attend the 7th International Forum on the Decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.

Workforce policies discussed at ANS diversity committee roundtable

August 30, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News

The American Nuclear Society Diversity and Inclusion in ANS Committee hosted a webinar this summer on the impact of national, state, and local policies on the nuclear workforce. The event addressed the question of how the nuclear sector can become a more supportive work environment and accommodate aspects like identity or disability that make us different and human.

The webinar, DIA Roundtable: The Impact of National, State, and Local Policies on the Nuclear Workforce, is open to all users.

Oklo, Centrus reach understanding on fuel, components, and power procurement

August 29, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News
The site in Piketon, Ohio, where Oklo plans to deploy two microreactors under an agreement with Southern Ohio Diversification Initiative. (Photo: Oklo)

Oklo Inc. and Centrus Energy announced a new memorandum of understanding on August 28 to support the deployment of Oklo’s microreactor design, dubbed Aurora, near the Piketon, Ohio, site where Centrus plans to operate a high-assay, low-enriched uranium (HALEU) enrichment demonstration under contract to the Department of Energy by the end of the year.

Project Pele in context: An update on the DOD’s microreactor plans

August 28, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News

Deploying microreactor technology for military applications could have huge impacts on logistics and reliability for the military of the future, and on the commercial use of similar technologies. That’s why the Department of Defense is developing Project Pele—a high-temperature, gas-cooled and TRISO-fueled microreactor, transportable within mobile shipping containers—for testing at Idaho National Laboratory in 2025.

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?

INL finishes waste pad removal project

August 2, 2023, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions
Work crews use light construction equipment to remove the final pieces of asphalt from one of the pads at the TSA-RE at INL. (Photo: DOE)

The Idaho National Laboratory is moving closer toward closing its largest building—which, at more than 316,000 square feet, could comfortably house a modern U.S. aircraft carrier, according to the Department of Energy.