Grandson of J. Robert Oppenheimer calls for nuclear cooperation to address energy crisis

May 19, 2023, 11:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Charles Oppenheimer, the grandson of the “father of the atomic bomb,” wants us to save the world with nuclear fission. In “Nuclear Energy’s Moment Has Come,” published in Time last week, Oppenheimer discusses why the public should embrace nuclear energy as a bipartisan solution to the climate crisis.

Purdue Boilermakers eye nuclear power for cleaner campus boilers

May 15, 2023, 7:01AMNuclear News

Purdue University and Duke Energy released an interim report on May 10 that documents the first year of an ongoing feasibility study, first announced in April 2022, that could help bring nuclear power to the state of Indiana. No technology has been selected and no decision to build a new nuclear plant has been made at Purdue University or elsewhere in the state, but in the Small Modular Reactor and Advanced Reactor Feasibility Study Interim Report the study participants conclude that “small modular reactors and advanced reactors are a viable option that warrant continued exploration to meet the future carbon-free energy needs of Purdue University and Duke Energy Indiana.”

Research quantifies the health and climate value of the U.S. nuclear fleet

May 9, 2023, 7:00AMNuclear News
A still from a video posted by MIT that illustrates the air pollution that would be generated over one year by a grid with no nuclear power. (Credit: MIT)

Nuclear power is the single largest source of clean energy in the United States, but how can the value of “clean” be measured? Two recent reports by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, respectively, measured the clean energy benefits of nuclear energy in different ways: the benefits to human health from the air pollution avoided and the future economic value of avoided carbon emissions.

The NASEM report: Laying the foundation for a nuclear-powered, low-carbon grid

May 2, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News
This slide on the right from the consensus committee’s public briefing identifies 10 core variables that are important to the success of advanced reactor deployments. (Image: NASEM, Laying the Foundation for New and Advanced Nuclear Reactors in the United States)

Richard Meserve, who for more than two years chaired the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) Consensus Committee on Laying the Foundation for New and Advanced Nuclear Reactors in the United States, introduced its 300-page report on April 27 during a public briefing.

Watch for it—Advanced nuclear “liftoff” needs 5–10 reactor contracts by 2025

March 31, 2023, 9:29AMNuclear News
These graphs illustrate how rapidly scaling the nuclear industrial base would enable nearer-term decarbonization and increase capital efficiency, versus a five-year delay to reach the same 200 GW deployment by 2050. (Source: DOE, Pathways to Commercial Liftoff: Advanced Nuclear, Fig. 1)

The Department of Energy released Pathways to Commercial Liftoff: Advanced Nuclear earlier this month. It is one of the first in a series of reports on clean energy technologies and the private and public investments needed to overcome hurdles to full-scale deployment. The report makes a clear case for investment in nuclear power and challenges potential investors and operators to move beyond the current “wait and see” stalemate and generate “a committed orderbook . . . for 5–10 deployments of at least one reactor design by 2025.”

X-energy, Dow agree to embed an Xe-100 demo at a Gulf Coast industrial facility

March 1, 2023, 3:07PMNuclear News
Artist’s rendering of an Xe-100 plant. (Image: X-energy)

Dow and X-energy announced today that they have signed a joint development agreement (JDA) to demonstrate the first grid-scale advanced nuclear reactor at an industrial site in North America within a decade. As part of the agreement, Dow is now a subawardee under X-energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP) Cooperative Agreement with the Department of Energy.

Fusion is prioritized in net-zero R&D initiative and IRA funds, but fission factors in too

November 10, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News
The U.S. ITER Project Office in Oak Ridge, Tenn. U.S. ITER has received $256 million in Inflation Reduction Act funding. (Photo: U.S. ITER)

Just days before COP27 and the U.S. midterm elections, the White House announced $1.55 billion in Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) funding for national laboratories and the launch of a Net-Zero Game Changers Initiative based on a new report, U.S. Innovation to Meet 2050 Climate Goals. Out of 37 research and development opportunities identified, fusion energy was selected as one of just five near-term priorities for the new cross-agency initiative. Together, the announcements signal policy and infrastructure support for fusion energy—the biggest chunk of Department of Energy Office of Science (DOE-SC) IRA funding went to ITER, via Oak Ridge National Laboratory—and for advanced nuclear technologies to power the grid and provide process heat to hard-to-decarbonize industrial sectors.

GAIN’s Rachel Taow recognized as first C3E awardee from the nuclear field

November 8, 2022, 3:15PMNuclear News


Rachel Taow, who is the process modernization lead for the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) at Idaho National Laboratory, received an award in the category of law and finance during the 11th Annual C3E Women in Clean Energy Symposium and Awards, held on November 2 in Washington, D.C. Taow has 16 years of government contracting experience—the last six spent with GAIN—and was nominated for the award by GAIN director Christine King.

The Clean Energy Education & Empowerment (C3E) Initiative was created in 2010 to close the gender gap in clean energy fields, and since 2012, outstanding mid-career women in clean energy have been recognized at the annual C3E symposium. Nine women received awards this year, including—for the first time in the 11 years of the C3E award program—a woman working to advance nuclear energy.

New CNC draft guidance out as first-round decision nears

October 4, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News

The Department of Energy released draft guidance for the second award cycle of the $6 billion Civil Nuclear Credit (CNC) Program on September 30, ahead of a decision on which reactors could receive four years of economic aid from the program’s first award cycle.

The DOE’s draft guidance for the second award cycle describes CNC program timelines and all supporting information required for owners or operators of nuclear power plants to apply for certification of eligibility and submit sealed bids. Feedback is requested by 5:00 p.m. EDT on November 4. While no date has been set for the second-round application process to open, the DOE plans to initiate the award cycle before the end of the year.

GAO finds nuclear demo best practices could set new standard for clean energy projects

October 3, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News

The Department of Energy’s management of its commercial-scale reactor demonstration projects has “generally been consistent with requirements to address risk,” according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report published recently. The GAO found that the DOE has met existing project management requirements, and that the two offices managing the awards—the Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) and the Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations (OCED)—plan to introduce additional project management tools, such as external independent reviews. The GAO recommended that the DOE adopt those plans as institutional best practices for other large energy projects, and the DOE concurred.

NREL sees path to triple nuclear capacity by 2035, but there’s more to the story

September 19, 2022, 4:58PMNuclear News
(Photo: DOE)

Examining Supply-Side Options to Achieve 100% Clean Electricity by 2035 was written by research staff at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, so its reliance on solar and wind energy to decarbonize the grid by 2035 is not surprising. But that’s a big ask for any variable energy technology, especially if the nation’s largest source of clean power—nuclear energy—is relegated to a supporting role. Massive additions of solar and wind energy on the order of 2 TW would require a supporting infrastructure of new transmission lines, as well as batteries and hydrogen for daily and seasonal energy storage that would drive demand and capacity requirements higher.

ANS welcomes WISE interns back to Washington, D.C.

September 1, 2022, 9:30AMANS News
Tiara Carrasquillo Pérez (far left) and Matt Hageman (far right) are pictured with five other WISE interns and FMR Gil Brown (center front).

For the first time since 2019, student interns were welcomed to Washington, D.C., for the summer to participate in the Washington Internships for Students of Engineering (WISE) program. Among them were two students sponsored by ANS—Tiara Carrasquillo Pérez and Matt Hageman.

Report sizes up nuclear new-build financing from five top exporters

August 31, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News

As energy security and environmental concerns prompt some countries to increase their reliance on nuclear energy or become first-time adopters of the technology, the U.S. government must decide whether it will offer financing for reactor exports—a move that poses financial risks but could create jobs, address global climate and energy security challenges, and limit Chinese and Russian influence. A new report released on August 25 by the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, Comparing Government Financing of Reactor Exports: Considerations for U.S. Policy Makers, digs into the history of nuclear reactor financing and delivers recommendations for U.S. policymakers.

Matt Bowen, research scholar at the center and the report’s lead author, told Nuclear News, “Given how important financing is to countries considering new reactor construction, as well as the competition that U.S. vendors face from foreign state-owned entities, Congress and the White House should both focus attention on the issue, including policy options to increase U.S. competitiveness.”

Small and Advanced Reactors with Diverse Fuel Cycles Can Deliver Energy Security

July 29, 2022, 7:08AMNuclear News

Nuclear energy offers a pairing of high capacity factors and low carbon emissions unrivaled by other power sources, and advanced reactors and small modular reactors (SMRs) hold promise to deliver that power with even more efficiency and versatility. Researchers in the public and private sectors, backed by government funding through programs like the Department of Energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program and Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E), are bringing that promise closer to fulfillment by engineering solutions to open questions about advanced reactor materials and fuel cycles.

Europe is showing renewed interest in nuclear energy “despite danger,” says the Washington Post

April 26, 2022, 7:06AMANS Nuclear Cafe

“The war in Ukraine has intensified interest across Europe in building new nuclear energy plants or extending the lives of old ones to liberate the continent from its heavy reliance on Russian oil and natural gas,” Washington Post reporters Steven Mufson and Claire Parker write in their recent article, before describing what they view as the potential dangers of nuclear energy. They also quote the American Nuclear Society in regard to the Chernobyl nuclear site in Ukraine.

Elon Musk: Shutting down nuclear plants is “total madness”

March 31, 2022, 12:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe


In a wide-ranging interview published by Business Insider on March 26, Elon Musk, chief executive officer of Tesla and SpaceX, repeatedly referred to efforts to shut down nuclear power plants as “crazy” and “madness.” Musk spoke with Mathias Döpfner, chief executive officer of Insider’s parent company, Axel Springer. Musk also discussed his views on the war in Ukraine, climate change, space travel, self-driving cars, humanoid robots, artificial intelligence, religion, and philanthropy.

Germany's mistakes: In discussing the Ukraine conflict and Western Europe’s dependence on Russian energy supplies, Döpfner referred to “strategic mistakes that Europe, particularly Germany, has made [such as] the dropout of nuclear energy in 2011.”

Musk responded, “It is very important that Germany will not shut down its nuclear power stations. I think this is extremely crazy.”

World Energy Outlook 2021: Nuclear innovation needs to accelerate

October 18, 2021, 6:43AMNuclear News
Nuclear power capacity by scenario, 2020–2050 (STEPS: stated policies scenario, APS: announced pledges scenario, NZE: net-zero emissions by 2050 scenario). (Graphic: IEA World Energy Outlook 2021)

The International Energy Agency released its flagship report, World Energy Outlook 2021, on October 13, “at a time when policymakers are contending with the impacts of both climate change and volatile energy markets” and ahead of the COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, which begins October 31. With a net-zero emissions by 2050 (NZE) scenario that calls for nuclear power capacity to almost double by 2050, the report acknowledges that rapid development of advanced nuclear technologies could expand opportunities for nuclear energy to provide low-carbon electricity, heat, and hydrogen.

Australia has invested in batteries for grid security. It’s not going as planned.

September 29, 2021, 1:07PMANS Nuclear Cafe
Two battery Megapacks were destroyed in a July fire at Victorian Big Battery. Each battery is about the size of a standard shipping container. (Photo: Country Fire Authority)

Australia’s two large lithium-ion storage batteries are getting attention for all the wrong reasons. Hornsdale Power Reserve, a 150-MW battery collocated with a wind farm in South Australia, is being charged in federal court with failing to deliver on promises to respond to grid demands, and of being technically unable to deliver under the terms it was being paid to meet. Proceedings were filed September 22, just before the testing of a second Tesla-manufactured “Big Battery resumed after a two-month delay following a fire in July.

Energy markets strained by price spikes make the case for nuclear

September 16, 2021, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Energy prices surged across Europe recently as markets were stricken by reduced output from wind turbines. Low supplies of natural gas had already boosted the cost of the gas–powered generation required to make up for dips in renewable energy sources. The result: a series of dire headlines, soaring prices for natural gas, and the startup of idled coal power plants.

Radiation safety expert debunks three myths about nuclear waste

July 20, 2021, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
Photo: University of Manchester (U.K.)

Nuclear waste should not be used as an excuse for trying to shut down nuclear reactors, says radiation safety expert Andrew Karam in his recent article for the American Council on Science and Health titled, “Let’s Talk about Radioactive Waste."