Senate approves NRC chair Hanson’s renomination

June 4, 2024, 3:00PMNuclear News

Hanson

Nuclear Regulatory Commission chair Christopher Hanson was renominated today by a Senate vote of 81–17 for a five-year term expiring June 30, 2029.

Earlier, in May, the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted 18–1 to advance Hanson’s renomination to the NRC. Hanson has been a commissioner since 2020 and was named chair by President Biden in January 2021.

“The American Nuclear Society commends the Senate for confirming the renomination of Christopher T. Hanson as chair of the U.S. NRC,” said American Nuclear Society Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer Craig Piercy. “We look forward to Chair Hanson’s continued leadership in ensuring the safe and efficient operation of our existing nuclear power plants and in developing a robust licensing framework for new nuclear technologies. The NRC is vital in ensuring the safe use of nuclear technology for zero-carbon energy, cancer detection and treatment, food safety, and more.”

NRC Hanson's renomination clears Senate committee

May 2, 2024, 9:30AMNuclear News

Hanson

The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted 18–1 yesterday to advance the renomination of Christopher T. Hanson as a member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Hanson has been a commissioner since 2020, and was named chair by President Biden in January 2021. The full U.S. Senate will consider Hanson’s nomination later this month.

Voices of support: “Chair Hanson is a dedicated public [servant] who has thoughtfully and . . . skillfully led the [NRC] during his tenure as its chair. Throughout his time on the[NRC], he has demonstrated his commitment to ensuring the safety and the security of our nation’s use of nuclear energy,” said EPW committee chair Tom Carper (D., Del.) before the vote.

Kathryn Huff stepping down from DOE Nuclear Energy post

April 15, 2024, 3:04PMNuclear News

Huff

After serving two years as the Department of Energy’s assistant secretary for Nuclear Energy, Kathryn Huff will vacate that position on May 3 and return to teaching. Huff had started at the DOE in May 2021, serving for one year as the principal deputy assistant secretary for Nuclear Energy.

“Serving in this capacity has been an unparalleled privilege, and I’m immensely grateful for the opportunity to have worked alongside you--the dedicated and talented public servants in Nuclear Energy, in DOE, and across the Biden-Harris Administration,” Huff wrote in an email announcement to colleagues last week. “I chose this timing to enable the smoothest transition back to my professorship at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where my beloved research, students, husband, and dog await.”

Biden administration releases FY25 budget request—What’s in it for nuclear?

March 12, 2024, 3:59PMNuclear News

The White House asked for nearly $1.6 billion in funding for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy in the fiscal year 2025 budget proposal, released earlier this week. The requested funding is about 10 percent lower than the FY 2024 budget appropriation but still requires congressional review and approval.

House approves FY 2024 energy funding bill

November 1, 2023, 7:01AMNuclear News

With a new speaker finally seated, the GOP-led House of Representatives recently passed the fiscal year 2024 Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 4394) in a near–party line vote of 210–199. A lone Republican—Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado—opposed the measure, as did all voting Democrats.

Westinghouse launches microreactor “accelerator hub”

October 27, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News
Concept art of the eVinci accelerator hub, soon to be home to engineering and licensing operations, testing, prototype trials, business development, and sales. (Image: Westinghouse)

To help speed up commercialization of its eVinci microreactor, Westinghouse Electric Company this week launched a new design and manufacturing facility for the project near downtown Pittsburgh, Pa. Located in the borough of Etna, the 87,000-square-foot eVinci “accelerator hub” will be home to engineering and licensing operations, testing, prototype trials, business development, and sales, Westinghouse said in an October 24 announcement, adding that the facility will include manufacturing space for producing the “innovative heat pipes that are central to the eVinci technology.”

Terrestrial Energy, Westinghouse ink deal for IMSR fuel plant

August 4, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News

Canadian nuclear tech firm Terrestrial Energy has signed a manufacturing and supply contract with Springfields Fuels Limited—a Britain–based subsidiary of Westinghouse Electric Company—for the design and construction of an Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) fuel pilot plant.

In an August 3 press release, Terrestrial said that Springfields’ reactor fuel manufacturing facility has extensive existing infrastructure available to support the fuel supply for IMSR development and is scalable to support a fleet of IMSR plants operating in the 2030s. Located near Preston, Lancashire in northwestern England, the Springfields facility is the only site in the United Kingdom for nuclear fuel manufacturing.

Oklo to deploy two Aurora plants in Ohio

May 19, 2023, 9:01AMNuclear News
A rendering of Oklo’s Aurora Powerhouse. (Image: Oklo)

Santa Clara, Calif.–based Oklo is planning to build its second and third commercial Aurora Powerhouse nuclear plants in southern Ohio, the company announced yesterday. The advanced reactor developer received a site permit in December 2019 from the Department of Energy to build its initial Aurora facility at Idaho National Laboratory.

According to the announcement, Oklo has signed an agreement with the Southern Ohio Diversification Initiative (SODI), a community-reuse organization, to deploy two 15-MWe plants on land owned by SODI at the Portsmouth site near Piketon, Ohio. The DOE began transferring parcels of the Portsmouth site—home to the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, now undergoing decontamination and decommissioning—to SODI in June 2018 for economic development.

Terrestrial Energy awarded DOE grant for IMSR licensing

May 17, 2023, 3:00PMNuclear News
An illustration of an IMSR plant. (Image: Terrestrial Energy)

Ontario–based Terrestrial Energy announced yesterday that its U.S. branch has been awarded a regulatory assistance grant from the Department of Energy to support the company’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensing program for the Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) plant.

DOE-NE offers inside look at FY 2024 budget request

March 24, 2023, 8:55AMNuclear News

While President Biden’s $6.9 trillion budget proposal for fiscal year 2024, submitted to Congress on March 9, was quickly pronounced “dead on arrival” by Sen. John Barrasso (R., Wyo.), it remains valuable as an indicator of the administration’s funding priorities for the coming year, including its nuclear energy priorities.

Which is why ANS on Wednesday hosted “An Inside Look at the FY 2024 Budget,” a members-only webinar moderated by ANS Executive Director/CEO Craig Piercy and featuring a team from the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy, including DOE-NE head Kathryn Huff.

NIA report calls for DOE transformation

January 23, 2023, 3:01PMANS Nuclear Cafe

The Nuclear Innovation Alliance (NIA) released a new report last week titled Transforming the U.S. Department of Energy: Paving the Way to Commercialize Advanced Nuclear Energy, which gives recommendations for how the Department of Energy (DOE) can help advanced nuclear power technologies cross the finish line to commercialization. It calls for a “whole-of-government and whole-of-society effort dependent on successful public-private partnerships.”

The NIA report acknowledges that boosting energy security and meeting decarbonization goals will require at least double the domestic nuclear energy capacity that is on line today. But the nuclear industry is highly complex, and its supply chain is atrophied. The success of advanced nuclear technology will depend on careful collaboration and planning to bolster a new supply chain.

National lab veteran Goff named to position at DOE-NE

January 18, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News

Goff

Michael Goff, a renowned nuclear engineer with decades of management and research experience in national laboratories and the Department of Energy, has been named as the principal deputy assistant secretary for the DOE Office of Nuclear Energy (NE). The DOE announced the appointment on January 17 after a competitive, nationwide selection process.

NE, White House, national labs: Goff, an American Nuclear Society member, had been serving his third term at NE as a senior advisor to the assistant secretary. He had also previously served as the assistant director for nuclear energy and as a senior policy advisor in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. He spent more than 30 years at Idaho National Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory in a number of management and research positions. His research interests have focused on the nuclear fuel cycle, including separations technology, high-level waste development, and safeguards. He has had more than 70 papers published on these and other research topics.

DOE awards $800K to ANS, ECA to engage on nuclear energy

December 9, 2022, 7:00AMANS News

The Department of Energy yesterday awarded the American Nuclear Society and Energy Communities Alliance Inc. (ECA) a combined $800,000 to connect with communities across the country and establish education and outreach opportunities in nuclear energy. (A Washington, D.C.–based nonprofit, ECA “brings together local government officials to share information, establish policy positions, and promote community interests to address an increasingly complex set of constituent, environmental, regulatory, and economic development needs,” according to its website.)

Panel on nuclear energy and climate change to be livestreamed from COP27

November 14, 2022, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe
Scheduled to appear at the Energy Security panel session at COP27: from left, moderator Sweta Chakraborty and speakers Kathryn Huff, Seth Grae, and Bonnie Jenkins.

The United Nations’ COP27 conference, held this year in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, from November 6 to 18, will feature the panel discussion “Energy Security” on Tuesday, November 15, at 9:00 a.m. EST (4:00 p.m. local time). The discussion is being sponsored by the review platform We Don’t Have Time; the live stream will be available to viewers on their COP27 Climate Hub website.

The IRA: Crediting nuclear energy

September 7, 2022, 3:03PMNuclear News

While the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA), recently signed into law, has created a good deal of buzz in the nuclear community, the thought of wading through its 730 pages of legislative language can be a bit intimidating. Which is why, on August 26, the American Nuclear Society offered an hour-long, members-only webinar on the legislation and its key provisions for nuclear energy.

Moderated by John Starkey, ANS’s director of public policy, “Inflation Reduction Act: What’s in It for Nuclear” featured Benton Arnett, director of markets and policy for the Nuclear Energy Institute; Josh Siegel, energy and climate change reporter for Politico; Rory Stanley, staff member of the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee; Elina Teplinsky, partner at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman; and James Wickett, partner at Hogan Lovells. (ANS members can view the full webinar here.)

DOE revises nuclear credit program guidance, extends application deadline

July 1, 2022, 12:09PMNuclear News

The Department of Energy yesterday announced that it has amended its Civil Nuclear Credit (CNC) Program guidance for the currently open award cycle and extended the deadline for credit applications from July 5 to September 6. The DOE was instructed to establish the $6 billion program by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed into law by President Biden last November.

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.

Huff approved to head Office of Nuclear Energy

May 5, 2022, 3:04PMNuclear News

Huff

The Senate has confirmed ANS member Kathryn Huff as the next assistant secretary for the Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) in the Department of Energy. The bipartisan vote, held earlier this afternoon, was 80–11.

President Biden selected Huff in January to fill the top spot at NE—a post that has been vacant since Rita Baranwal (also an ANS member) announced she was leaving the position on January 8, 2021.

Huff came to the DOE in May of last year to serve as principal deputy assistant secretary for nuclear energy, going on unpaid leave from her position as an associate professor in the Department of Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering at the University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign, where she led the Advanced Reactors and Fuel Cycles Research Group.

NEDHO urges Congress to provide funding for university nuclear programs

May 4, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News

With the federal government’s fiscal year 2023 budget process under way, the Nuclear Engineering Department Heads Organization (NEDHO) has reached out to congressional appropriators with a letter urging support for the Department of Energy Office of Nuclear Energy’s research programs.

DOE seeks input on FY 2023 funding opportunity announcement for university research

May 2, 2022, 7:09AMNuclear News

The Department of Energy's Office of Nuclear Energy has issued a request for information regarding the funding of university research for fiscal year 2023. The RFI, issued on April 20, is seeking input from the nuclear energy community, including technical and community colleges, historically black colleges and universities, and other minority-serving institutions, on its competitive Research and Development Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for universities.