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


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.

DOE seeks nuclear-focused partnerships with communities

April 26, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

The Department of Energy has issued a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) aimed at developing partnerships between the Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) and various communities. Partners will work with local energy communities, educational entities, and other constituencies to accomplish the shared mission of utilizing nuclear energy to advance energy, environmental, and economic initiatives, according to the DOE.

Join ANS for the virtual event, “Budgeting for the Future of Nuclear”

April 25, 2022, 9:28AMANS News

ANS is hosting a webinar titled “Budgeting for the Future of Nuclear” on Wednesday, April 27, from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. (EDT). Representatives from the Department of Energy will discuss the president’s fiscal year 2023 budget request.

Register Now. The webinar is for ANS members only.

U.S. should double its nuclear energy by 2050, says NIA report

April 19, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News

The Nuclear Innovation Alliance (NIA), a nonprofit advocating for advanced nuclear, has announced the publication of a new report, Fission Vision: Doubling Nuclear Energy Production to Meet Clean Energy Needs. According to the April 13 announcement, the United States needs a “focused national effort” to develop and deploy advanced nuclear technologies to help meet midcentury climate goals.

Current U.S. climate targets (set by the Biden administration) include a 50–52 percent reduction from 2005 levels in net greenhouse gas pollution by 2030 and a net-zero–emissions economy by 2050.

Fission Vision answers the question: What is the role advanced nuclear energy could play at a scale and at a pace to help provide safe, reliable, and affordable clean energy?” said Judi Greenwald, NIA’s executive director. “Fission Vision has three objectives: catalyzing a robust U.S. innovation and commercialization ecosystem, ensuring ‘social license’ to operate advanced nuclear energy, and reimagining and integrating advanced nuclear energy with other clean energy sources. If we can achieve these objectives—and we think we can—advanced reactors will play a major role in meeting our climate and energy goals by at least doubling U.S. nuclear energy production by 2050.”

FY 2023 budget request released; DOE funding hiked 7 percent

March 29, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News

The White House yesterday released its $5.8 trillion fiscal year 2023 budget proposal, just two weeks after President Biden signed into law H.R. 2471, the FY 2022 omnibus bill that funds the federal government through September 30.

Bill to ban Russian uranium imports debuts

March 21, 2022, 3:01PMNuclear News


In the latest effort by the federal government to sanction Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, Sen. John Barrasso (R., Wyo.) last week introduced legislation to prohibit the importation of Russian uranium to the United States.

The Biden administration banned imports of Russian oil, liquefied natural gas, and coal, via executive order on March 8.

Barrasso’s bill, S. 3856, was introduced on March 16, with three of his fellow GOP lawmakers as cosponsors: Sens. Kevin Cramer (R., N.D.), Cynthia Lummis (R., Wyo.), and Roger Marshall (R., Kan.).

“The time is now to permanently remove all Russian energy from the American marketplace,” said Barrasso, ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) Committee. “We know Vladimir Putin uses this money to help fund his brutal and unprovoked war in Ukraine. While banning imports of Russian oil, gas, and coal is an important step, it cannot be the last. Banning Russian uranium imports will further defund Russia’s war machine, help revive American uranium production, and increase our national security.”

Senate panel vets Biden’s pick to lead DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy

March 18, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
Nominated to lead the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy, Kathryn Huff testifies before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on March 17.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee met yesterday to consider the nomination of Kathryn Huff to head the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy (NE). President Biden selected Huff to fill the top spot at NE in January.

House passes fiscal year 2022 omnibus appropriations bill

March 10, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News

After months of negotiations, the House passed a fiscal year 2022 omnibus spending package late Wednesday—the same day that congressional appropriators from both chambers unveiled the long-awaited measure.

Labeled H.R. 2471, the 2,741-page, $1.5 trillion package includes all 12 of the standard annual appropriations bills, providing $730 billion for nondefense programs, a $46 billion (6.7 percent) jump from FY 2021, and $782 billion for defense programs, a $42 billion (5.6 percent) boost. (The bill also includes $13.6 billion to address the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.)

The House also approved, by voice vote, a stopgap bill to extend government funding to March 15 to give the Senate time to review the omnibus bill and send it to the president’s desk for his signature. At this writing, funding for the federal government runs out tomorrow.

ANS to DOE: HALEU availability program needed ASAP

February 18, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

The American Nuclear Society is urging the Department of Energy to accelerate the development of an availability program for high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU).

In a letter sent to the DOE earlier this week, ANS President Steven Nesbit and Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer Craig Piercy state that HALEU availability is critical to the continued development of advanced nuclear technologies.

Huff nominated to fill role of assistant secretary of energy for DOE-NE

January 19, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News


Kathryn “Katy” Huff, who is currently serving as the Department of Energy's principal deputy assistant secretary of nuclear energy, has been nominated by President Joe Biden to head the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy as assistant secretary of energy. The role has been vacant since Rita Baranwal announced she was leaving the position on January 8, 2021.

Sustained commitment: Since Huff was named principal deputy assistant secretary of nuclear energy in May 2021, she has also served as acting assistant secretary of energy for nuclear energy.

Huff is on unpaid leave from her role as associate professor in the Department of Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she led the Advanced Reactors and Fuel Cycles Research Group. Huff was also a Blue Waters assistant professor with the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. Prior to joining the NPRE faculty at UIUC, Huff was a postdoctoral fellow in the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Nuclear Science and Security Consortium and the Berkeley Institute for Data Science at the University of California–Berkeley. Huff received her Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 2013, and her undergraduate degree in physics from the University of Chicago.

American Nuclear Society statement on Katy Huff being nominated as DOE nuclear energy chief

January 19, 2022, 11:39AMPress Releases


Washington, D.C.— Today, President Joe Biden nominated Kathryn Huff as the Assistant Secretary of Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Nuclear Energy. The following statement can be attributed to the American Nuclear Society:

Former NRC chairman joins Southern Company board

October 21, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News


Kristine Svinicki, former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, has joined the board of directors of Southern Company. Southern announced her election as an independent director on Monday. She joins the board’s Business Security and Resiliency Committee, as well as its Operations, Environmental, and Safety Committee.

“As the longest-serving member in the history of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Kristine brings to Southern Company a wealth of experience advising energy policy at the federal and state levels,” said Southern chairman, president, and chief executive officer Tom Fanning. “Kristine’s knowledge of and expertise in nuclear technologies will be invaluable as we pursue the full range of energy resources. Moreover, Kristine’s insight into the energy challenges of tomorrow places Southern Company in a prime position to serve customers, communities, employees, and stockholders well into the future.”

Senate panel seeks a more modest increase in NE funding than House counterparts

August 6, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday approved three of the 12 fiscal year 2022 funding measures, including an Energy and Water Development bill that provides the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) with an increase of 5.5 percent over last year’s allocation—half of the boost recommended for NE last month by House appropriators.

The Senate panel advanced the legislation by a vote of 25–5, with all five no votes from GOP members: Sens. Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), John Kennedy (R., La.), Mike Braun (R., Ind.), Bill Hagerty (R., Tenn.), and Marco Rubio (R., Fla.).

Past DOE Nuclear Energy officials hold panel discussion for ANS

March 30, 2021, 3:00PMANS News

Five former assistant secretaries of energy for the Office of Nuclear Energy—a position given the designation “NE-1”—gathered for a virtual panel discussion hosted by the American Nuclear Society on March 26. Rita Baranwal, John Kotek, Peter Lyons, William D. Magwood, and Warren “Pete” Miller each participated in the free event that was moderated by Benjamin Reinke, the former executive director in the secretary of energy’s Office of Strategic Planning and Policy.

NARUC partners with DOE to explore nuclear power issues

March 9, 2021, 3:01PMNuclear News

The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) has launched a five-year nuclear energy partnership with the Department of Energy. Announced on March 8, the partnership is aimed at providing opportunities for state public service commissioners and their staffs to “better understand barriers and possibilities related to the U.S. nuclear fleet.”

Partnership members will engage in activities such as stakeholder dialogues, peer-sharing calls, site visits, educational webinars, and briefing papers, according to NARUC.

Support for the project is furnished by the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy through the NARUC Center for Partnerships and Innovation. A kickoff meeting is scheduled for later this month.

EPRI names Rita Baranwal as new VP of nuclear, CNO

January 12, 2021, 2:58PMANS Nuclear Cafe


The Electric Power Research Institute today announced Rita Baranwal as its new vice president of nuclear energy and chief nuclear officer. Baranwal succeeds Neil Wilmshurst, who was promoted to senior vice president of energy system resources in November.

Baranwal most recently served as the Department of Energy’s assistant secretary for its Office of Nuclear Energy, where she managed the DOE's portfolio of nuclear research for existing and advanced reactors and new designs. Baranwal unexpectedly resigned from that position late last week.

DOE releases blueprint for advancing U.S. nuclear

January 12, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear News

The Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy (DOE-NE) last week released its Strategic Vision report, outlining its plan to support the current U.S. reactor fleet, demonstrate the latest innovations in nuclear energy technologies, and explore new market opportunities for nuclear energy.

The 36-page document identifies five goals to address challenges in the nuclear energy sector, help realize the potential of advanced technology, and leverage the unique role of the federal government in sparking innovation. Each goal also includes supporting objectives to ensure progress.