Securing the advanced reactor fleet

May 17, 2024, 3:00PMNuclear NewsBen Cipiti, Katya Le Blanc, and Cory Hatch

Physical protection accounts for a significant portion of a nuclear power plant’s operational costs. As the U.S. moves toward smaller and safer advanced reactors, similar protection strategies could prove cost prohibitive. For tomorrow’s small modular reactors and microreactors, security costs must remain appropriate to the size of the reactor for economical operation.

Thorium-HALEU fuel pellets begin ATR irradiation campaign

April 15, 2024, 12:00PMNuclear News
ANEEL fuel experiment capsules being staged at the ATR. (Photo: Clean Core)

Clean Core Thorium Energy (Clean Core) has announced that its ANEEL fuel is ready to begin irradiation testing and qualification at Idaho National Laboratory. The fuel, made of thorium and HALEU, was developed by Clean Core for use in pressurized heavy water reactors, including CANDU (Canadian deuterium-uranium) reactors. Irradiation of the fuel samples in INL’s Advanced Test Reactor (ATR) is set to begin this month.

Kickoff event coming on codes and standards for advanced reactors

March 25, 2024, 7:01AMNuclear News

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Idaho National Laboratory are hosting a hybrid event on April 4 to launch a coordinated effort focused on leveraging consensus codes and standards to support deployment of new and advanced reactor technologies.

The meeting will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (EDT) at the NRC’s Rockville, Md., headquarters and will be accessible online through Microsoft Teams. Participants must register to attend either in-person or virtually.

GAIN awards include plan to integrate fast reactor test vehicle in Oklo’s Aurora

March 21, 2024, 12:00PMNuclear News
The primary system of THETA at Argonne’s Mechanisms Engineering Test Loop Facility, where Oklo is conducting sodium thermal-hydraulic testing with support from a GAIN award announced in 2021. (Image: Argonne National Laboratory)

The Department of Energy and the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) on March 19 announced the second round of fiscal year 2024 voucher awards to three companies: Element Factory, Kanata America, and Oklo.

Lightbridge announces first U-Zr fuel rod samples extruded at INL

March 18, 2024, 3:12PMNuclear News
The extrusion in progress. (Photo: INL/Lightbridge)

Lightbridge Corporation announced today that it has reached “a critical milestone” in the development of its extruded solid fuel technology. Coupon samples using an alloy of zirconium and depleted uranium—not the high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) that Lightbridge plans to use to manufacture its fuel for the commercial market—were extruded at Idaho National Laboratory’s Materials and Fuels Complex.

Industry experts at ANS virtual event discuss strategies for safe and secure nuclear power expansion

February 9, 2024, 7:02AMANS News
From left: Piercy, Hart, Iyengar, Tobey

The latest virtual event produced by the American Nuclear Society brought together experts from the forefront of the global nuclear industry to discuss strategies for ensuring a safe, secure, and healthy expansion in the face of a rapidly changing energy and geopolitical landscape.

The webinar, moderated by ANS Executive Director/CEO Craig Piercy, featured J’Tia Hart, chief science officer for the National and Homeland Security Directorate at Idaho National Laboratory; Anagha Iyengar, deputy program director for analytics and innovation at the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Office of International Nuclear Security; and William Tobey, former NNSA deputy administrator for defense nuclear nonproliferation.

MARVEL microreactor start-up now expected in 2027, as fuel fabrication begins

February 8, 2024, 12:00PMNuclear News
Concept art of the MARVEL microreactor (Image: INL)

The Department of Energy announced February 7 that fuel for the MARVEL microreactor, which Idaho National Laboratory plans to host inside the Transient Reactor Test (TREAT) facility, is now being fabricated by TRIGA International, with the first fuel delivery expected in spring 2025. MARVEL operation was expected “by the end of 2024” as recently as May 2023, but that timeline had shifted by October, when the DOE said MARVEL “is expected to be completed in early 2025.” Now, according to the DOE’s latest announcement, “Fuel loading for MARVEL is anticipated to occur in 2026, with the microreactor expected to be on line by 2027.”

Issues on microreactors and irradiation experiments planned for Nuclear Science and Engineering

January 23, 2024, 3:00PMANS News

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

2023 in Review: April–June

January 11, 2024, 7:00AMNuclear News

Another calendar year has passed. Before heading too far into 2024, let’s look back at what happened in 2023 in the nuclear community. In today's post, compiled from Nuclear News and Nuclear Newswire are what we feel are the top nuclear news stories from April through June 2023.

Stay tuned for the top stories from the rest of the past year.

2024 GAIN vouchers will foster seven new advanced reactor technologies

December 23, 2023, 6:01PMNuclear News
A still from a video on Westinghouse Electric Company’s eVinci microreactor, one of seven advanced reactor technologies that received support in GAIN’s latest round of nuclear energy vouchers. (Image: Westinghouse)

The Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) announced December 19 that seven firms will get vouchers to access the nuclear research facilities and expertise of the national laboratory complex in the first round of fiscal year awards. Each company is paired with one or more national laboratories to work on concepts from advanced reactor fueling to fuel recycling to climate forecasting.

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.

Idaho’s IWTU to resume operations in early 2024

December 14, 2023, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
A view of two vessels that each contain approximately 30,000 pounds of granulated activated carbon, used to remove mercury from process off-gas during IWTU operations. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management said Idaho’s Integrated Waste Treatment Unit (IWTU) is set to resume radioactive liquid waste treatment operations early next year after crews replaced carbon material from two plant vessels. The IWTU was shut down for an unplanned outage on September 6 to address elevated mercury concentrations in the plant’s granulated activated carbon (GAC) beds, according to Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB) reports.

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.