Looking back at 2021—Nuclear News October through December

January 7, 2022, 2:59PMNuclear News

This is the fifth of five articles 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 October-December time frame—please enjoy this recap from a busy year in the nuclear community.

License application for Oklo unit denied

January 7, 2022, 9:06AMNuclear News
An artist's rendition of Oklo’s Aurora powerhouse. (Image: Gensler)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has denied “without prejudice” Oklo Power’s application to build and operate its Aurora microreactor in Idaho, the agency announced yesterday. The denial, according to the NRC, is due to the California-based firm’s failure to provide sufficient information on several crucial topics regarding the Aurora design.

Study finds major roles for Westinghouse microreactor in Canada

November 2, 2021, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe
eVinci micro reactor core, (Illustration: Westinghouse)

A recently completed feasibility study by Westinghouse Electric Company and Bruce Power concludes that the eVinci microreactor is capable of providing cost-competitive clean energy to decentralized, off-grid markets in Canada.

Microreactor planned for U.S. Air Force base in Alaska

October 25, 2021, 7:01AMNuclear News
An F-35A Lightning II takes off from Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska on July 1, 2021. (Photo: U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class Jose Miguel T. Tamondong)

The Department of the Air Force has selected Eielson Air Force Base as the site of a stationary microreactor that “will provide the installation with a clean, reliable, and resilient nuclear energy supply technology for critical national security infrastructure,” the department announced on October 15.

Nuclear Innovation Alliance publishes report on advanced reactors

September 27, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News

With the goal of providing basic information on advanced reactors to help the public and stakeholders understand the technology’s promise, the nonprofit think tank Nuclear Innovation Alliance has published Advanced Nuclear Technology: A Primer.

NRC brainstorms ways to simplify microreactor licensing

September 24, 2021, 6:59AMNuclear News
The U.S. NRC headquarters.

The staff of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission recently released a draft white paper outlining strategies for streamlining microreactor licensing. The paper is to be used to facilitate discussion at an upcoming advanced reactor stakeholder public meeting.

“This paper,” the document emphasizes, “has not been subject to NRC management and legal reviews and approvals, and its contents are subject to change and should not be interpreted as official agency positions.”

Study: Microreactors show potential but face challenges

July 28, 2021, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe

A recently released technical report from Idaho National Laboratory finds “significant potential” for deploying microreactors on a global scale, but also “significant challenges in achieving the technical capacities, meeting regulatory requirements and international accords, achieving competitive costs, and for gaining public acceptance.”

In the 147-page report, Global Market Analysis of Microreactors, authors David Shropshire from INL, Geoffrey Black from Boise State University, and Kathleen Araújo from the CAES Energy Policy Institute at Boise State assess the unique capabilities of microreactors and their potential deployment in specific global markets in the 2030-2050 timeframe.

House appropriators pass bill with more funding for nuclear energy

July 19, 2021, 12:01PMNuclear News

The House Committee on Appropriations last week approved an Energy and Water Development funding bill for fiscal year 2022 that provides an 11 percent increase for the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy.

Reported favorably out of committee on July 16 via a party-line vote of 33 to 24, the House bill sports a total price tag of $53.2 billion, an increase of $1.5 billion from the FY 2021 enacted level. (The committee’s official report on appropriations for the next fiscal year can be found here.)

Senate panel endorses energy infrastructure bill

July 15, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee yesterday approved a bill on energy infrastructure, including initiatives that would provide a boost to the U.S. nuclear industry.



The Energy Infrastructure Act, which is expected to serve as the legislative text for key portions of a more comprehensive $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package, was approved 13–7, following the adoption of 48 amendments. All committee Democrats voted in favor of the bill, as well as three of the panel’s 10 GOP members, Sens. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Steve Daines of Montana, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Two well-known Republican proponents of nuclear, John Barrasso of Wyoming and Jim Risch of Idaho, voted no. (Barrasso expressed a number of concerns with the bill, including its price tag.)

U of Illinois plans to integrate research and power with advanced microreactor

June 30, 2021, 12:18PMNuclear News
A rendering of Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation’s micro modular reactor as proposed for construction on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus. (Graphic: USNC)

The U.S. state with more nuclear power plants than any other—Illinois—has no operating university research reactors. A team at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) intends to reverse that situation and construct a high-temperature gas-cooled microreactor. If the team's plans go ahead, the first new U.S. university research reactor deployment in about 30 years could also support commercial advanced reactor deployment.

Tiny MARVEL reactor gets final environmental assessment

June 8, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News
The MARVEL reactor concept with Stirling engines. (Image: DOE)

The definition of a microreactor is ambiguous. But whether your upper cutoff is 10 MW or 20 MW, the Microreactor Applications Research Validation and Evaluation (MARVEL) reactor that the Department of Energy plans to build is, at 100 kW, on the tiny side of micro.

Micro Modular Reactor reaches Canadian licensing milestone

May 24, 2021, 9:27AMNuclear News
Artist’s rendering of the MMR project. (Image: USNC)

Global First Power’s (GFP) Micro Modular Reactor (MMR) project has moved to the formal license review phase with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), becoming the first small modular reactor to do so.

Prospects for nuclear in 2021 looking up, says NEI

February 2, 2021, 3:01PMNuclear News


Nuclear Energy Institute president and chief executive officer Maria Korsnick struck a decidedly optimistic tone last week in remarks on nuclear’s future delivered at the United States Energy Association’s 17th annual State of the Energy Industry Forum.

"In 2020, nuclear energy was highlighted in both House and Senate climate reports," she noted. "Congress significantly increased appropriations to accelerate research and development of new nuclear technologies. And we’ve seen the introduction of bipartisan legislation that recognizes nuclear’s contributions to today’s economy and our clean energy future.”

The year in review 2020: Research and Applications

January 8, 2021, 11:59AMNuclear News

Here is a look back at the top stories of 2020 from our Research and Applications section in Newswire and Nuclear News magazine. Remember to check back to Newswire soon for more top stories from 2020.

Research and Applications section

Venture formed to build microreactor at Canada’s Chalk River Laboratories

June 11, 2020, 2:06PMNuclear News

Global First Power (GFP), Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC), and Ontario Power Generation (OPG) have announced the formation of a joint venture to construct, own, and operate USNC’s Micro Modular Reactor (MMR) at Canadian Nuclear Laboratories’ Chalk River Laboratories site in Ontario. The venture, known as the Global First Power Limited Partnership, is owned equally by OPG and USNC-Power, the Canadian subsidiary of USNC.

Study: Advanced reactors a good fit for Puerto Rico

May 27, 2020, 10:10AMNuclear News

The Nuclear Alternative Project (NAP), a nonprofit group supporting the use of advanced reactors in Puerto Rico, has released the findings of a preliminary feasibility study undertaken to explore in detail the potential for these devices on the Caribbean island. The 288-page study, Preliminary Feasibility Study for Small Modular Reactors and Microreactors for Puerto Rico, was sponsored by the Department of Energy. The study concludes that small modular reactors and microreactors could be part of Puerto Rico’s energy portfolio and potentially supply a substantial part of a strong and diverse zero-emission energy mix.