Study favors SMRs for use at future electric truck charging stations

January 23, 2023, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The use of small modular reactors would be an excellent, cost-effective way to recharge electric heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs), such as trucks, according to a recent study published in Applied Energy. The Idaho National Laboratory–funded study was conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan.

PIMA Nuclear Alliance seeks “revolutionary” change in nuclear industry

December 20, 2022, 7:01AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The Post-Industrial Midwest and Appalachia (PIMA) Nuclear Alliance hosted its third workshop December 8—9 at Pennsylvania State University’s Digital Foundry at New Kensington. The alliance, which consists of Penn State and several academic, industrial, and national lab partners, was formed in May 2022 to harness carbon-free energy while educating and training the future energy workforce. Previous workshops were held in June and October this year.

Microreactor technology: The major focus of the alliance is innovation in microreactor technology and other advanced nuclear reactor technologies in the Midwest and Appalachia regions, with the overall goal of furthering the decarbonization of industries.

Lawmakers press DFC to invest in nuclear

December 19, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

A bipartisan group of senators sent a letter last week to Scott Nathan, chief executive officer of the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), urging the agency to begin financing nuclear energy projects and support the continued development and deployment of advanced nuclear technology.

Signing the December 8 letter were Sens. John Barrasso (R., Wyo.), Cory Booker (D., N.J.), Shelley Moore Capito (R., W.Va.), Ben Cardin (D., Md.), Chris Coons (D., Del.), Kevin Cramer (R., N.D.), Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.), Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska), and Jim Risch (R., Idaho).

Rep. Donalds calls for end to regulations hampering microreactor development

December 12, 2022, 12:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Donalds

“I wholeheartedly believe that utilizing nuclear energy—specifically advanced nuclear microreactors—could have made a positive difference for Florida’s 19th District in many ways,” wrote Rep. Byron Donalds (R., Fla.) in an op-ed about Hurricane Ian that appeared in the Floridian on December 5. Donalds noted that Ian, which struck southwest Florida (the location of his congressional district) on September 28, 2022, was an “unforgettable storm” that caused “heart-wrenching devastation” to the area but that “the deployment of microreactors throughout Southwest Florida could have: (1) reduced disaster-related mortality; (2) reduced direct disaster-related economic loss; and (3) reduced the overall disruption of basic services stemming from Hurricane Ian’s devastation.”

Microreactor technology and benefits: Donalds offered his readers a brief lesson on nuclear microreactors, explaining that they are “small, versatile, and extremely reliable pieces of innovative technology” that put to rest common public concerns about nuclear energy related to “large smokestacks, nuclear waste, and nuclear meltdowns.”

Air Force pilot program to enlist microreactor for 20-year Alaskan deployment

October 5, 2022, 12:01PMNuclear News
Aircraft line the runway at Eielson AFB in December 2020. (Photo: U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Keith Holcomb)

The Department of the Air Force and the Defense Logistics Agency–Energy have released a request for proposals (RFP) for the construction and operation of a microreactor in central Alaska. The Department of Defense wants a 20-year supply of electricity and steam from a 1–5-MW microreactor, but the Eielson Air Force Base (AFB) Microreactor Pilot Program will go beyond a simple power purchase agreement and put the reactor through its paces with tests, at least annually, of the reactor’s walk-away safety and black-start capabilities. The final RFP is available at sam.gov.

USNC, Hyundai partner on microreactor procurement and prospects

August 29, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News
Francesco Venneri (left), USNC CEO, and Hyeon Sung Hong, Hyundai Engineering CEO, at a framework agreement signing for MMR project development and deployment.

Representatives of Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC) of Seattle, Wash., and Hyundai Engineering of Seoul, South Korea, traveled last week between USNC project sites in Oak Ridge, Tenn., and Ontario, Canada, to sign two agreements extending their collaboration on the deployment of USNC’s high-temperature, gas-cooled Micro Modular Reactor (MMR). The agreements expand on a business cooperation agreement signed in January 2022 and an engineering agreement signed in June, and follow the closure earlier this month of a previously announced $30 million equity investment after its review by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.

EPRI’s NuIdea Initiative seeks to move nuclear power into district energy market

August 9, 2022, 7:02AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) has launched the Nuclear in District Energy Applications (NuIdea) Initiative to support the use of nuclear power in district energy systems. The new program, which is part of the EPRI’s Nuclear Beyond Electricity Initiative, has the goal of promoting microreactors (up to 10 MW) for heating, cooling, and power applications in institutional settings by 2026.

ANS panel discussion focuses on nuclear technologies for space commercialization and exploration

August 8, 2022, 9:30AMANS News
This landscape speckled with glittering stars is the edge of a nearby, young, star-forming region called NGC 3324 in the Carina Nebula. Captured in infrared light by NASA’s new James Webb Space Telescope, this image reveals for the first time previously invisible areas of star birth. (Photo: NASA)

ANS’s August 4 online event “The New Space Race is Going Nuclear” featured several expert panelists who discussed the growing importance of nuclear technologies in space commercialization and exploration. Although nuclear energy has long played a role in space missions, participants discussed the latest exciting developments in the space nuclear field and presented their views on how increased application of nuclear technologies could fundamentally transform the ways in which both crewed and uncrewed space missions are carried out.

Agency favors revising population-related siting rules for advanced reactors

July 28, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission recently approved, in a 2–1 vote, a recommendation from its staff that could potentially lead to the siting of advanced reactors in more densely populated areas than is permitted for traditional light water units.

NRC chairman Christopher Hanson and David Wright voted in favor of the recommendation, with Jeffery Baran casting the lone “nay” vote. (There are currently two open seats on the five-member commission.)

From NIA: New and updated reports on advanced nuclear

July 20, 2022, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The Nuclear Innovation Alliance (NIA), a Washington, D.C.–based nonprofit, has released a new report, Advanced Nuclear Reactor Technology: A Company Compendium, along with an update to its Advanced Nuclear Reactor Technology: A Primer, first published last September.

Both reports are meant to serve as resources for investors, reporters, policymakers, regulators, and others wanting to learn more about the different technologies and key players involved in the design, licensing, construction, and operation of advanced nuclear reactors.

What are the key cost drivers for microreactors?

May 17, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

Microreactors upend the traditional economics of nuclear power plants by shifting the paradigm from economies of scale (large reactors) to economies of multiple (mass production). While shrinking power output per unit may increase costs per kilowatt compared to large plants, offsetting gains can be expected from simplified and standardized designs, factory fabrication, inherent safety, lower radionuclide inventories, fast installation, and low financing costs. For instance, the lower power density in a microreactor core leads to a greatly reduced decay heat source, simplifying emergency cooling needs. These design aspects can lead to innovations including substantial simplifications to safety and control needs, minimized human operational requirements, a very compact balance of plant, the ability to fabricate almost every component in a factory, shortened construction time, and less daunting financing.

Profile published on head of MARVEL project at Idaho National Laboratory

May 12, 2022, 7:03AMANS Nuclear Cafe
Idaho National Laboratory nuclear engineer Yasir Arafat (Photo: INL)

From refugee in Bangladesh to top nuclear engineer at Idaho National Laboratory, ANS member Yasir Arafat has led quite an interesting life, as described in a recent online profile written by Donna Kemp Spangler for the INL website. Arafat is leading the development of the Department of Energy’s Microreactor Applications Research Validation and EvaLuation (MARVEL) project at INL. The profile notes that MARVEL, which Arafat envisioned soon after joining INL in 2019, is scheduled to be “built and demonstrated at INL’s Transient Reactor Test Facility and connected to the world’s first nuclear microgrid within two years.”

YouTuber focuses on small modular reactors and microreactors

March 16, 2022, 7:02AMANS Nuclear Cafe

An article posted on the Interesting Engineering website on March 10 highlights a recent YouTube video that provides an overview of the advantages, current status, future possibilities, and practical challenges of small modular reactors, along with a look at the even smaller microreactors. The video is available on the “Undecided with Matt Ferrell” channel. Ferrell describes himself as “a UI/UX [user interface/user experience] designer by trade” and “a lifelong tech enthusiast.”

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.

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.

DOE awards $8.5 million to fund advanced nuclear projects

November 29, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News

In its latest financial nod of encouragement to the U.S. nuclear industry, the Department of Energy has announced awards totaling $8.5 million to five industry-led projects, with the aim of accelerating the commercial deployment of advanced reactors and fuels.

The awards are funded via the Office of Nuclear Energy’s U.S. Industry Opportunities for Advanced Nuclear Technology Development funding opportunity, which, since 2017, has invested more than $215 million in advanced nuclear technologies. Solicitations are broken down into three pathways: first-of-a-kind nuclear demonstration readiness projects, advanced reactor development projects, and direct regulatory assistance.

Oklo signs on as future customer for Centrus-produced HALEU

November 18, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News
Artist’s conception of Oklo’s Aurora powerhouse. (Image: Gensler)

Oklo plans to fuel its demonstration microreactor with high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU). To secure a source of HALEU for its nth-of-a-kind microreactor, Oklo has signed a nonbinding letter of intent with Centrus Energy to cooperate on the deployment of a HALEU production facility.

Biden signs infrastructure bill into law

November 16, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News

Surrounded by members of his cabinet, congressional leaders, and others, President Biden yesterday afternoon signed into law the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act—representing a much-needed victory for the president, whose approval rating, according to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll, sits at 41 percent.

Trillion-dollar infrastructure bill passes House

November 8, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News

After hours of squabbling between left-wing and centrist Democrats, the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill (H.R. 3684)—one of the two main pillars of President Biden’s domestic agenda—passed the House of Representatives late Friday night and has been sent to the White House for signing. The final tally was 228–206, with 13 Republicans joining most Democrats in casting their votes in favor of the legislation.