International workshop to evaluate geologic repository safety assessment software

April 25, 2022, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions

Sandia National Laboratories engineers Emily Stein, left, and Paul Mariner discuss recent results from their Geologic Disposal Safety Assessment software framework.

Ten teams of scientists from across the globe, including teams from the United States, Canada, Germany, and Taiwan, are virtually comparing software tools developed to assess the safety performance of deep geologic repositories for nuclear waste. The virtual workshop, held this month, is being conducted by members of an international collaboration called Development of Coupled Models and their Validation against Experiments, or DECOVALEX.

“The DECOVALEX initiative creates an important framework for experts in repository sciences from around the world to test and improve simulation models that are important to assessing the safety of geologic disposal,” said Jens Birkholzer, chairman of the initiative and a senior scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

New GAIN website tracks significant advanced reactor milestones

January 5, 2022, 3:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

A new website, Milestones in Advanced Nuclear, has been launched by the Department of Energy's Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN). The website features news stories about advanced reactor activities and offers a “Contact an expert” section for submitting questions and comments for response from GAIN.

DOE to use supercomputers to model materials in molten salt reactors

December 20, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News
The Summit supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory began operations in 2018. (Photo: ORNL)

The Department of Energy has announced $9.25 million for research into the behavior and properties of structural materials under molten salt reactor conditions through collaborations using the DOE’s high-performance supercomputers.

ANS offers simplified name-change process to authors of published works

August 25, 2021, 3:01PMANS News

There are reasons that individual researchers might seek to update their name on previously published work, including marriage or divorce, gender transition, or a change in religious affiliation. Having a former name listed on journal articles can cause significant problems for researchers applying for a new position or grant, effectively disclosing a personal event and potentially subjecting the individual to discrimination.

Rewriting the script: The real story of advanced reactors

August 19, 2021, 3:02PMNuclear NewsSusan Gallier
The EBR-II sodium fast reactor at Idaho National Laboratory began operations in 1964 and generated electricity for decades. Soon it will serve as a National Reactor Innovation Center test bed for future advanced reactor demonstrations. (Source: ANL)

At the box office or streaming at home, it’s fear, not truth, that sells. The laws of physics are swept aside, apocalypse is inevitable, and superpowered heroes wait until the last possible second to save the universe. It can make for great entertainment, but in the real world we need to stick with science over science fiction and be wowed by engineering, not special effects.

The truth is, science and innovation are incredible in their own right. From communications and machine learning to space travel and medical advances, technology is evolving in hyperdrive to solve real problems. With climate change and global warming here on earth, we don’t have to go looking for trouble in a galaxy far, far away.

Basic fusion research accelerates with infusion of DOE funds

July 7, 2021, 9:28AMNuclear News

The Department of Energy’s Office of Science has named seven companies as the recipients of cost-shared funding granted through the Innovation Network for Fusion Energy (INFUSE). A total of $2.1 million in first-round fiscal year 2021 funding was awarded on July 1 across nine collaborative projects between DOE national laboratories and private industry aimed at overcoming challenges in fusion energy development.

Biden administration’s proposed FY 2022 budget supports nuclear

June 3, 2021, 3:02PMNuclear News

The Biden administration’s fiscal year 2022 budget sent to Congress last week would, according to the Department of Energy, move the United States toward net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The FY 2022 budget request includes $1.85 billion for the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy.

“President Biden’s budget request puts America in the driver's seat as we transition toward a 100 percent clean energy economy,” said secretary of energy Jennifer Granholm on May 28. “These investments will ensure the U.S. is the global leader in research, development, and deployment of critical energy technologies to combat the climate crisis, create good-paying union jobs, and strengthen our communities in all pockets of America.”

Brookhaven lab names new nuclear and particle physics directorate lead

April 19, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News


Haiyan Gao, currently the Henry W. Newson Distinguished Professor of Physics at Duke University, will join the Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory as associate laboratory director for Nuclear & Particle Physics starting on or about June 1, 2021.

Details: Gao, who has a long history in nuclear physics, will help develop BNL’s collective long-term vision for the next 10 years. She’ll also work across the laboratory and beyond to craft its emerging expertise at the future Electron-Ion Collider, a one-of-kind nuclear physics research facility that will be built at the lab over the next decade.

Kim Budil selected as director of Lawrence Livermore Lab

January 28, 2021, 3:02PMANS Nuclear Cafe


Kim Budil has been named director of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The announcement was made to laboratory employees today by Charlene Zettel, chair of Lawrence Livermore National Security (LLNS), which manages the laboratory for the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration.

Budil will begin her new role on March 2.

Details: Budil is the 13th director of LLNL since it was established in 1952 and its first woman director. She will also serve as president of LLNS, replacing Bill Goldstein, who announced his plans to step down last July, pending the successful search for his successor.

Energy Sciences Coalition issues letter to Biden’s DOE transition team

December 18, 2020, 12:01PMANS Nuclear Cafe

The Energy Sciences Coalition (ESC) issued a letter today to the incoming Biden administration’s transition team for the Department of Energy. The ESC is a broad-based group of organizations representing scientists, engineers, and mathematicians from universities, industry, and national laboratories that is committed to supporting and advancing the scientific research programs of the DOE and, in particular, the DOE Office of Science.

Battelle names INL Director Peters as head of lab operations

August 20, 2020, 3:03PMNuclear News


Mark Peters has been named executive vice president of laboratory operations for Battelle, the company announced on August 20. He will take over for Ron Townsend, who earlier this summer announced that he plans to retire in January 2021. Peters, who has served as laboratory director at Idaho National Laboratory since October 2015, will remain in this role until his successor has been selected and is in place. He will assume his new role at Battelle following this transition at INL.

EBR-1 in Photos

December 20, 2018, 5:02PMANS Nuclear CafeWill Davis

December 20, 1951 marks an important date in the history of nuclear power; it's the date on which the first useful electric power was generated by atomic fission.  While the now-famous event at that time only powered four light bulbs, the somewhat stunt-like nature of the day obscured the fact that the plant was actually set up to generate considerably more power, and did so.  Let's take a look at this fact and, at the same time, the facility through illustrations from my collection and from photographs that I took myself while touring EBR-1 earlier this year.

Advancing Nuclear: Paths to the Future

November 8, 2016, 2:41AMANS Nuclear Cafe

"How do we move nuclear energy into the future?" was the question asked and answered in a variety of ways during a fascinating speakers' session that followed this morning's opening plenary.  Several expert speakers in a variety of fields provided frank and illuminating commentary on the condition of nuclear now, and on the things that have to change for nuclear energy to be vibrant in the decades to come.

Consolidated Storage of Commercial Used Fuel

June 15, 2016, 11:51AMANS Nuclear CafeWill Davis

Used nuclear fuel storage; photo courtesy Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a division of the US Department of Energy

An interesting session at the ANS 2016 Annual Meeting, sponsored by the Fuel Cycle & Waste Management Division, saw the presentation of a number of interesting papers relative to the ever-increasing problem of used nuclear fuel at the various commercial nuclear plant sites in the United States.  Not only does the used fuel (which is a far better term than "spent fuel," these days, since it can conceivably be reused) continue to accumulate at the nuclear plants, but there is also a considerable amount of used fuel being stored at various sites where the nuclear plants have actually been shut down, decommissioned and completely removed for years.  Considering this, and the need to inventory, characterize and eventually move this material, a growing amount of interest is being shown in this field.

Nuclear Nonproliferation and Safeguards Education at Universities

August 28, 2014, 2:57PMANS Nuclear CafeLenka Kollar

I recently attended a Safeguards Education Roundtable at the Argonne National Laboratory sponsored by the Next Generation Safeguards Initiative (NGSI).  University professors and nonproliferation experts from U.S. national laboratories met at this event to discuss safeguards education at universities. The goal of NGSI is to "to develop the policies, concepts, technologies, expertise, and infrastructure necessary to sustain the international safeguards system" as it evolves in the future. A major pillar of the program is developing the next generation of professionals to work in the nonproliferation and safeguards field-and to make sure that the next generation of nuclear professionals is aware of nonproliferation and safeguards issues.

Nuclear Matinee: Scientists announce nuclear fusion breakthrough

February 14, 2014, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Researchers at the National Ignition Facility in California announced this week that they had achieved a major milestone on the path toward nuclear fusion as an energy source, as described in a paper published in the science journal Nature. For the first time, the energy produced in a nuclear fusion reaction in a confined hydrogen fuel exceeded the energy put in to start the reaction.  Science reporter Gautam Naik explains at the Wall Street Journal:

Realistic look at Small Modular Reactors in Idaho

November 5, 2013, 4:57PMANS Nuclear CafeRod Adams

From October 30 through November 1, 2013, a group of about 150 people with questioning attitudes about small, modular reactors (SMRs) met in Idaho Falls, Idaho.  They were treated to a number of presentations that described the technical progress that has been made so far and also provided a realistic, sobering look at the long, challenging development path that must be traversed to allow the technology to begin contributing to the world's energy security.