From South Korea to Belgium: Testing a high-density research reactor fuel

March 28, 2024, 12:00PMNuclear News
Irradiation of test fuel at SCK-CEN's BR2 reactor in Belgium. (Photos: KAERI)

The Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute has developed a high-density uranium silicide fuel designed to replace high-enriched uranium in research reactors. Recent irradiation tests appear to be successful, KAERI reports, which means the fuel could be commercialized to continue a key global nuclear nonproliferation effort—converting research reactors to run on low-enriched uranium fuel.

Research and test reactor oversight probed by NRC IG after NIST fuel failure

October 11, 2023, 9:45AMNuclear News
A view of the NCNR guide hall, featuring the 30-meter Small Angle Neutron Scattering instrument. (Photo: NIST)

Following the February 2021 radiation release at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) resulting from a fuel failure in the 20-MWt NIST Center for Neutron Research (NCNR) research reactor, NIST investigated the root cause of the incident and developed corrective actions. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s probe of the incident found apparent violations and resulted in a confirmatory order issued in August 2022.

New TRIGA fuel delivered to a U.S. university reactor for the first time in a decade

October 3, 2023, 3:22PMNuclear News
The TRIGA shipment was received September 27. (Photo: Kate Myers/Penn State)

Penn State’s Radiation Science and Engineering Center (RSEC) has received the first new TRIGA fuel shipped to the United States since 2012, the university announced on September 28. The fuel reached University Park, Pa., on September 27 and is destined for RSEC’s Breazeale Reactor, the nation’s longest continuously operating university research reactor.

Argonne National Lab: Making nuclear research reactors more secure

August 15, 2023, 3:01PMNuclear NewsChristina Nunez

Nuclear research reactors throughout the world enable crucial scientific progress that benefit many sectors, health care and the environment among them. But some of those reactors need an important adjustment: a conversion from using high-enriched uranium fuel to using low-enriched uranium fuel.

Framatome turns out one-of-a-kind fuels to extend the life of research reactors

May 3, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News
A Framatome operator fabricates U-Mo foils at CERCA. (Photo: Framatome)

Framatome is prepared to manufacture a novel molybdenum-uranium (U-Mo) fuel to extend the life and safe operation of the Forschungsreaktor München II (FRM II) research reactor in Germany. A new fuel supply—one that uses uranium enriched to less than 20 percent U-235—means the FRM II can continue to supply neutrons to industry and the scientific community. The fuel is “Europe’s low-enriched fuel with the highest density ever realized for research reactor operations,” according to Framatome’s April 27 announcement.

The Leak: An account of Brookhaven’s HFBR, its leak, and its closure

October 18, 2022, 12:01PMANS Nuclear Cafe
Then energy secretary Bill Richardson decided to permanently shut down the HFBR in November 1999. (Photo: DOE)

“Why did a tiny leak bring down a hugely successful research reactor 25 years ago?”

That’s how Robert P. Crease, an academic who writes a regular column for Physics World, introduces The Leak: Politics, Activists, and Loss of Trust at Brookhaven National Laboratory, a book he wrote with former interim BNL director Peter D. Bond that was published this month by MIT Press.

“Were this story fiction, its characters, plot twists and ironies would be entertaining,” Crease writes in his October 5 Physics World post about the book. “But because it’s fact, it’s a tragicomedy.”

The crucial role that universities play in our nuclear future

April 19, 2022, 12:09PMNuclear NewsBill Foster

Foster

New and existing nuclear reactors are among our most powerful tools if we hope to make a meaningful contribution to climate change before 2050. We don’t have a lot of time to reduce emissions to avoid catastrophic warming. It is our responsibility to develop a comprehensive response to address our dependence on fossil fuels, promote sustainable energy use, and invest in new energy technologies.

Science and engineering continue to make great strides in energy-­related technologies such as advanced nuclear reactors, long-­term energy storage, fusion energy, and the safe and secure handling of spent nuclear fuel. Using every viable tool to combat climate change will help ensure a safer world for us and for generations to come.

How the Olympics put a spotlight on HEU in research reactors

February 10, 2022, 12:04PMNuclear News

Today’s #ThrowbackThursday post looks at the initial debate surrounding the conversion of research reactor fuel from high-enriched uranium to low-enriched uranium. An article published in the April 1984 issue of Nuclear News (available to all ANS members), titled “NRC studies HEU-to-LEU fuel conversion issue,” was written by the ANS Washington editor John Graham, and brings up several items of interest.

The story: Graham introduces the readers to the growing security concerns around HEU and notes that the issue has its roots in the nonproliferation concerns from the Carter administration that forced the domestic nuclear industry to abandon certain projects—the subject of a #TBT post a couple of weeks ago.

House committee passes bipartisan university research infrastructure bill

January 21, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

A bipartisan bill to ensure that U.S. universities are equipped to play a key role in supporting the deployment of advanced nuclear technology and applications has been passed by the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

The National Nuclear University Research Infrastructure Reinvestment Act of 2021 (H.R. 4819) would boost investment in new and existing university nuclear science and engineering infrastructure, establish regional consortia to promote collaboration with industry and national laboratories, and support the development of advanced reactor technology and the workforce required for commercial advanced reactor deployment.

ANS Winter Meeting: Universities to host a new generation of advanced reactors

December 13, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News
A screen shot from the “Research Reactors in Support of Advanced Reactor R&D” session at the 2021 ANS Winter Meeting and Technology Expo.

First-of-a-kind research reactors, demo reactors, and research facilities are being developed and sited on university campuses to support the broader deployment of advanced reactors. At the 2021 ANS Winter Meeting and Technology Expo, during a December 2 panel session titled “Research Reactors in Support of Advanced Reactor R&D,” several of these planned projects were discussed in detail—including a molten salt reactor in Texas and a high-temperature gas–cooled reactor in Illinois.

The session was sponsored by the Reactor Physics Division and organized and chaired by Pavel Tsvetkov, of Texas A&M University. A video of the session is available to registered Winter Meeting attendees.

PRISMAP: A European network for medical radioisotope production and research

October 1, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News
A conceptual image of collaboration across Europe. (Image: PRISMAP/SCIPROM)

Only a few of the more than 3,000 radioisotopes that scientists have synthesized in the laboratory are regularly used in diagnostic or therapeutic medicine. One significant barrier to the development of new medical radioisotopes is the difficulty of gaining access to radionuclides during the early stages of development and research. PRISMAP is a new medical radionuclide program designed to streamline that access for medical research in the European Union and the United Kingdom.

SLOWPOKE-2 reactor refueled after over three decades of research

September 27, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News
The core of SLOWPOKE-2. (Photo: CNL)

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) announced on September 23 that it had refueled the SLOWPOKE-2 research reactor at the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) in Kingston, Ontario. The reactor was recommissioned on September 10 after a 22-day outage.

University infrastructure bill calls for investments in advanced nuclear, workforce

August 4, 2021, 7:07AMNuclear News
A rendering of Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation’s micro modular reactor as proposed for construction on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus. (Graphic: USNC)

A bipartisan group of legislators has introduced a bill to invest in university nuclear science and engineering infrastructure, establish regional consortia to promote collaboration with industry and national laboratories, and support the development of advanced reactor technology. The National Nuclear University Research Infrastructure Reinvestment Act of 2021 (H.R. 4819) was introduced in the House of Representatives by Reps. Anthony Gonzalez (R., Ohio), Sean Casten (D., Ill.), Peter Meijer (R., Mich.), and Bill Foster (D., Ill).

Statement from President Steven Nesbit and Executive Director & CEO Craig Piercy, American Nuclear Society

August 3, 2021, 2:41PMPress Releases

The American Nuclear Society welcomes the introduction of H.R. 4819, or the National Nuclear University Research Infrastructure Reinvestment Act of 2021, which aims to boost the educational and research capabilities of our universities’ nuclear science and engineering programs. Strengthening our universities' nuclear education and research is vital to preserving and expanding America’s largest carbon-free energy source as well as saving and prolonging healthy lives through the use of medical isotopes.

Upgrades completed at world’s only TRIGA fuel fabrication facility

April 8, 2021, 12:02PMNuclear News
The Maryland University Training Reactor, one of 12 TRIGA reactors currently operating at universities in the United States. Photo: University of Maryland

TRIGA International, the only supplier of TRIGA reactor fuel in the world, recently completed a major renovation project at its fuel fabrication facility in Romans, France. The Department of Energy, which provided both technical and financial support for the project, said the upgrades ensure the continued operation of 36 TRIGA reactors around the world, including 18 in the United States.

IAEA confirms Iran working on uranium metal for reactor fuel

January 14, 2021, 12:01PMANS News

Iran has started work on uranium metal-based fuel for a research reactor, the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog and Tehran said on Wednesday. Kazem Gharib Abadi, Iran’s representative at the International Atomic Energy Agency, confirmed that the country has started working on the fuel, saying that everything has been reported to the agency.

Iran's action is the latest breach of its nuclear deal with six significant powers as it presses for a lifting of U.S. sanctions.

Research reactors promise world of benefits to African nations

October 14, 2020, 3:00PMNuclear News

Leonardi

Mwamba

Africa hosts only seven of the 220 research reactors in operation today, and despite having 17.2 percent of the world’s population the continent contains just 3 percent of the world's nuclear research reactor capacity, say the authors of an opinion piece published online on October 12.

Marguerite Leonardi, senior advisor at NPC Consulting & Engineering, and Professor Vincent Lukanda Mwamba, Commissaire Général of the Commissariat Général à l’Energie Atomique in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), explain why the lack of research reactor capacity is a concern and they urge the restart of a dormant research reactor in Kinshasa, in the DRC.