Last of spent fuel from INL’s ATR moved to dry storage

March 3, 2022, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
Spent nuclear fuel handlers move the last ATR fuel to an awaiting cask in the CPP-666 basin. (Photo: DOE)

The last spent nuclear fuel elements from Idaho National Laboratory’s Advanced Test Reactor (ATR) have been retrieved from a water-filled storage basin and transferred to a nearby dry-storage facility in accordance with a 1995 agreement with the State of Idaho, the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) announced this week.

DOE expands minority partnership program for post-doctoral researchers

March 1, 2022, 7:00AMNuclear News

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management recently announced the expansion of its Minority Serving Institutions Partnership Program for post-doctoral researchers.

The program will offer the opportunity for recent graduates with Ph.D. degrees to perform scientific research that furthers technology development, enhances the global scientific knowledge base, and results in publishing in peer-reviewed journals.

Final EIS for Project Pele microreactor available

February 25, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News
An illustration of a potential mobile microreactor site at Test Pad D in INL’s Critical Infrastructure Test Range Complex for the grid operation phase of Project Pele. (Image: DOD)

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) is looking to reduce its reliance on local electric grids and diesel-fueled generators at military installations. Project Pele is designed to demonstrate the technical and safety features of mobile microreactors capable of generating up to 5 MWe.

D&D of USS Nautilus prototype reactor to begin in 2023

February 14, 2022, 3:04PMRadwaste Solutions
The interior of the Submarine 1st Generation Westinghouse prototype, located at the Naval Reactors Facility on the INL site, circa mid-1950s. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) announced on February 10 that it is set to deactivate and demolish the prototype for the reactor used for the USS Nautilus, the world’s first operational nuclear-powered submarine and the first submarine to complete a submerged transit of the North Pole.

ANS to host webinar highlighting the Black community in nuclear

February 8, 2022, 6:59AMANS News

The American Nuclear Society will host a one-hour webinar this Thursday, February 10, at 2:00 p.m. EST, celebrating “Black Excellence in the Nuclear Field.” The free webinar will be moderated by Lisa Marshall of North Carolina State University and will feature former U.S. assistant secretary for nuclear energy Warren “Pete” Miller, X-energy’s Jeff Harper, Idaho National Laboratory’s J’Tia Hart, and Booz Allen Hamilton’s Christina Leggett.

INL team assembles microreactor prototype

February 7, 2022, 3:04PMANS Nuclear Cafe
The MARVEL microreactor prototype in the INL machine shop. (Photo: DOE)

A full-scale, electrically heated prototype for the Department of Energy’s Microreactor Applications Research Validation and Evaluation (MARVEL) project was fabricated in just nine months, according to an article published by Idaho National Laboratory on January 31. The article explains in part how a team from the lab’s machine shop created the prototype.

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.

BWXT to demonstrate TRISO fuel line operations under contract extension

January 24, 2022, 2:59PMNuclear News

BWX Technologies announced on January 24 that it has been awarded a $4.9 million contract amendment to produce TRISO fuel particles using natural uranium and to demonstrate performance under a defined production schedule. BWXT’s Nuclear Operations Group will perform the work at BWXT’s Lynchburg, Va., facility, where TRISO production was restarted in November 2020. The contract amendment was awarded by Battelle Energy Alliance, which manages Idaho National Laboratory on behalf of the Department of Energy.

Rita Baranwal joins Westinghouse as chief technology officer

January 20, 2022, 7:02AMNuclear News

Baranwal

Westinghouse Electric Company has appointed ANS member and Fellow Rita Baranwal chief technology officer to drive next-generation solutions for existing and new markets that align with the company’s strategy.

Baranwal’s appointment marks her return to Westinghouse, where she worked for nearly a decade in leadership positions in the global technology development, fuel engineering, and product engineering groups.

Researchers find way to make new cancer medicine

January 11, 2022, 12:13PMANS Nuclear Cafe
INL scientists Matt Snow and Jessica Ward hold a natural vanadium solution that will be separated into the cancer-treating isotope scandium-47. (Photo: INL)

Idaho National Laboratory researchers have, for the first time, used a novel technique using high-energy photons to produce scandium-47 from the element vanadium. The project is a collaboration with Jon Stoner and John Longley from Idaho State University’s Idaho Accelerator Center and Tara Mastren from the University of Utah. The results are published in the journal Applied Radiation and Isotopes.

Looking back at 2021—Nuclear News April through June

January 7, 2022, 12:01PMNuclear News

This is the third of five articles to be posted today to look back at the top news stories of 2021 for the nuclear community. The full article, "Looking back at 2021,"was published in the January 2022 issue of Nuclear News.

Quite a year was 2021. In the following stories, we have compiled what we feel are the past year’s top news stories from the April-June time frame—please enjoy this recap from a busy year in the nuclear community.

The Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards elects 2022 leadership

January 6, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

Rempe

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards has elected Joy Rempe as chair, Walter Kirchner as vice chair, and David Petti as member-at-large. All three are ANS members.

“I am honored that my colleagues on the ACRS elected me to this position,” said Rempe, of Rempe and Associates. “The leadership team looks forward to ensuring that the ACRS continues its tradition of providing the commission advice on safety issues.”

Bios: Rempe has more than 35 years of experience in the areas of reactor safety and instrumentation performance. Prior to retiring as a Laboratory Fellow at Idaho National Laboratory, she founded an instrumentation development and deployment laboratory, which supported irradiation testing in U.S. and international facilities.

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.”

Road to advanced nuclear: How DOE and industry collaborations are paving the way for advanced nuclear reactors

April 2, 2021, 8:58AMUpdated December 28, 2021, 3:38PMNuclear NewsCory Hatch

As 2021 closes, Nuclear News is taking a look back at some of the feature articles published each month in the magazine. The April issue reviewed the current state of advanced reactors. This article looks at how the DOE and private industry are working together to realize the benefits of advanced nuclear.

As electric utilities rush to reduce carbon emissions by investing in intermittent renewables such as wind and solar, they often rely heavily on fossil fuels to provide steady baseload power.

More than 60 percent of the nation’s electricity is still generated with fossil fuels, especially coal-fired and gas-fired power plants that have the ability to quickly ramp up or ramp down power to follow loads on the electric grid. Most experts agree that even with a radical advancement in energy storage technology, relying exclusively on wind and solar to replace fossil fuels won’t be enough to maintain a stable electric grid and avoid the major impacts of climate change.

How would you design a HALEU Consortium? The DOE wants to know

December 17, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear News
(Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy asks no fewer than 21 multipart questions in its request for information on plans to set up a new program to ensure the availability of high-assay, low-enriched uranium (HALEU) in the United States, encompassing the who, what, when, where, and how of HALEU enrichment, deconversion, fabrication, and transportation. Interested parties were given just 30 days from the December 14 announcement to send their input to the DOE; the deadline is January 13.

Details: Written comments and information are requested on or before January 13. They can be submitted online at regulations.gov or by email to rfi-haleu@hq.doe.gov in a Microsoft Word or a PDF file. See the full request for information published in the Federal Register for additional information.

BWXT delivers reactor fuel that could power a roundtrip to Mars

December 14, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News
Coated uranium fuel kernels, as viewed through a glovebox. (Photo: BWXT)

Nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) is one technology that could propel a spacecraft to Mars and back, using thermal energy from a reactor to heat an onboard hydrogen propellant. While NTP is not a new concept, fuels and reactor concepts that can withstand the extremely high temperatures and corrosive conditions experienced in the engine during spaceflight are being designed now.

BWX Technologies announced on December 13 that it has delivered coated reactor fuels to NASA for testing in support of the Space Technology Mission Directorate’s NTP project. BWXT is developing two fuel forms that could support a reactor ground demonstration by the late 2020s, as well as a third, more advanced and energy-dense fuel for potential future evaluation. BWXT has produced a videoof workers processing fuel kernels in a glovebox.

Getting INL to net-zero carbon emissions by 2031

December 13, 2021, 3:00PMANS Nuclear CafeDonna Kemp Spangler

Kandasamy

Daunting tasks are nothing new for Jhansi Kandasamy. Her record of accomplishments over three decades suggests that she is often the first to succeed where others fall short. “I like to be the first,” she said with a laugh.

Her latest first? Kandasamy was recently named Idaho National Laboratory’s net-zero director. She is charged with achieving net-zero carbon emissions for INL within the next 10 years and her plan is to be 75 percent toward that goal within the next five years.

John Wagner, INL director, announced the Net-Zero initiative on Earth Day 2021, and he acknowledged it won’t be easy. “I understand this is an audacious goal,” he said, “but overcoming significant national challenges is exactly what national laboratories were established to do.”

Idaho site marks 30 years of cleanup

December 9, 2021, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions
The underlying Snake River Plain Aquifer is considerably safer today following three decades of cleanup activities at the DOE’s Idaho National Laboratory Site. (Graphic: DOE)

When the Department of Energy, the state of Idaho, and the Environmental Protection Agency signed a federal facility agreement and consent order in December 1991, the agencies outlined a plan to investigate and clean up, if necessary, more than 500 individual waste areas within the 890-square-mile Idaho National Laboratory (INL) Site, which was established in 1949 to design, build, and test nuclear reactors.

ANS Winter Meeting: What it will take to “Fuel our Nuclear Future"

December 1, 2021, 3:01PMNuclear News

The 2021 ANS Winter Meeting and Technology Expo began this morning with a Opening Plenary Session chaired by Winter Meeting general chair Amir Vexler, president and chief executive officer of Orano USA. It was an opportunity to both celebrate achievements that are already building a “Nuclear Future” and to identify needs and challenges ahead.

Influential speakers from the U.S. Congress, the Department of Energy, and the Nuclear Energy Institute joined ANS president Steven Nesbit and ANS CEO/executive director Craig Piercy to explore key issues associated with the front end of the nuclear fuel cycle, including supply and demand for high-assay, low-enriched uranium (HALEU). They didn’t stop there, however. They took questions from an in-person and virtual audience that probed other requirements of a sustainable nuclear future, including fueling a human resources pipeline.