Root causes of NIST reactor alert point to operator training

October 6, 2021, 3:02PMNuclear News
A rendering of the core of the NBSR, which consists of 30 aluminum-cladded plate-type U3O8 fuel elements with a 17.8-cm gap between elements. (Image: NCNR Technical Working Group, Root Cause Investigation of February 2021 Fuel Failure) (CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE)

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has submitted two reports and supplemental information to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission after conducting a root cause analysis of the February 2021 fuel failure and resultant alert at the NIST Center for Neutron Research (NCNR) in Gaithersburg, Md. While the 20-MWt NCNR research reactor remains shut down, scuttling the plans of researchers who rely on it as a source of both cold and thermal neutrons, NIST states in an October 4 update that it has requested permission to restart the reactor, contingent upon meeting all 18 corrective actions identified.

Biochemistry research could have implications in nuclear waste remediation

September 22, 2021, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
During a fluorescence spectroscopy experiment at LLNL, the protein lanmodulin makes radioactive curium glow when exposed to UV light in the sample to the right. The schematic (left) represents the structure of the curium-protein complex, with three curium atoms bound per molecule of protein. (Photo: LLNL)

Scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, working in collaboration with researchers at Penn State University and Harvard Medical School, have discovered a new mechanism by which radionuclides could spread in the environment.

The research, which has implications for nuclear waste management and environmental chemistry, was published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society on September 20.

DOE’s Huff: VTR is key to sustained advanced reactor innovation

August 3, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear News
A rendering of the VTR facility. (Image: INL)

Kathryn Huff, the Department of Energy’s acting assistant secretary for nuclear energy, asserted in an article published online by the Office of Nuclear Energy (DOE-NE) on July 30 that demonstration reactors, such as the Natrium and Xe-100 reactors being built as full-size power producers with cost-shared funding from the DOE, and test reactors, such as the Versatile Test Reactor, are both necessary for nuclear innovation. Both are also line items in the DOE budget request, and Huff’s article sends a clear message to appropriators about the need to fund both the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP) and the VTR.

First concrete poured for Bolivian research reactor

July 30, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News
First concrete pour for research reactor begins at Bolivian nuclear research center. (Photo: Rosatom)

Key facilities at a multipurpose nuclear research center in the high plains of Bolivia are nearing operation, and a ceremonial first concrete pour for the nuclear research reactor that will serve as the centerpiece of the project was held on July 26. Bolivian president Luis Arce attended the ceremony at the Center for Nuclear Technology Research and Development (CNTRD). Also attending were Kirill Komarov, first deputy director general for corporate development and international business at Rosatom (Russia’s state atomic energy agency), and authorities from the Ministry of Hydrocarbons and Energies and the Bolivian Nuclear Energy Agency (ABEN).

Radioactive molecules could probe origins of the universe

July 9, 2021, 9:13AMNuclear News

Physicists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and other institutions have measured the effect of a single neutron in a molecule of radium monofluoride and hypothesize that radioactive molecules could be used as a tool to explore why there is more matter than antimatter in the universe. The research team’s findings were published in the journal Physical Review Letters on July 7, and on the same day, an article published online by MIT News explained the implications of their work.

Argonne celebrates 75 years that began with a nuclear mission

July 1, 2021, 3:05PMNuclear News
Argonne marks its 75th anniversary on July 1. (Image: Argonne)

Seventy-five years ago today, on July 1, 1946, the first U.S. national laboratory was chartered with the singular mission of developing the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Now, the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory is one of the nation’s largest science laboratories, working on diverse challenges in energy, climate, science, medicine, and national security.

University-based nuclear R&D gets $61 million in DOE funding

June 24, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear News

More than $61 million in funding has been released for advanced nuclear energy technology projects in 30 states and in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, the Department of Energy announced on June 22. Of that total, $58 million is going to U.S. universities for nuclear energy research, cross-discipline technology development, and research reactor infrastructure.

Extraterrestrial Pu found in the ocean sheds light on cosmic events

May 17, 2021, 9:31AMNuclear News
The Crab nebula, an iconic Milky Way supernova remnant, as viewed by the Herschel Space Observatory and the Hubble Space Telescope. (Image: NASA, ESA, and Allison Loll/Jeff Hester, Arizona State University)

Traces of freshly made plutonium and radioactive iron recovered from the bottom of the Pacific Ocean are contributing to an understanding of how heavier elements are created from exploding stars and other cosmic events, according to a National Public Radio report.

Siphoning D&D lessons from the oil and gas industry

December 10, 2020, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The Deepsea Delta oil-drilling platform in the North Sea. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Nuclear decommissioning projects can benefit from the lessons learned in the fossil fuel industry, according to a December 8 Reuters Events post that draws heavily from an article published in the ANS magazine Radwaste Solutions.

Reuters reporter Paul Day interviewed the authors of “Tapping Nonnuclear Knowledge,” which appeared in the Fall 2020 issue of RS and examines research being done on cross-sector learning between nuclear and oil and gas decommissioning projects, particularly the mega projects of decommissioning nuclear power plants and offshore oil rigs.

DOE to provide $12 million for nuclear data research

December 8, 2020, 3:03PMNuclear News

The U.S. Department of Energy plans to provide up to $12 million for new research on nuclear data in support of crosscutting research. The aim of the program is to expand and improve the quality of data needed for a wide range of nuclear-related activities, from basic research in nuclear science to isotope production and nuclear nonproliferation efforts.

“Increasingly, precise data on the properties of atomic nuclei are central to enabling groundbreaking advances in medicine, commerce, and national security,” said Chris Fall, director of the DOE’s Office of Science, on December 7. “This program targets crosscutting opportunities to enhance the curation of existing nuclear data archives, as well as research to lay the groundwork for new applications in areas of national need.”

DOE awards $18 million to support high-intensity laser facilities

October 29, 2020, 3:03PMNuclear News

The Advanced Beam Laboratory at Colorado State University will receive funding under the DOE’s LaserNetUS program.

The Department of Energy’s Office of Fusion Energy Sciences (FES) aims to accelerate U.S. research in the field of high-energy-density plasma science with the awarding of $18 million to fund operations and user support at high-intensity laser facilities in the United States and Canada, the DOE announced on October 27.

The award is part of FES’s LaserNetUS initiative, which was established in 2018 to provide U.S. scientists increased access to high-intensity laser facilities at 10 universities and national laboratories: the University of Texas at Austin, Ohio State University, Colorado State University, the University of Michigan, the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, the University of Rochester, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and Canada’s Université du Québec.

South Korea completes first vacuum vessel section for ITER

May 5, 2020, 9:59AMNuclear News

ITER vacuum vessel section no. 6, shown here, was completely assembled in April. South Korea is providing four of the nine 40-degree vacuum vessel sections; Europe is providing the other five. Photo: ITER

South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) has completed work on the first vacuum vessel section for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), the ITER Organization reported on April 28. The 440-ton section is now being prepared for shipping this summer to the ITER construction site, located near Saint-Paul-lez-Durance, France.

Researchers investigate effects of heat on water migration at WIPP

May 4, 2020, 10:38AMRadwaste Solutions

Deep in the underground of a New Mexico desert, the Department of Energy is studying the effects of high-level, heat-generating radioactive waste on water migration in the salt formations. At the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad, N.M., a collaboration between Sandia, Los Alamos, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories is performing a series of borehole-scale process tests, called the Brine Availability Test in Salt (BATS) project.