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.

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.”

After six decades of IAEA research, NN revisits one scientist’s take on the agency’s early years

October 13, 2022, 3:05PMNuclear News
G. Robert Keepin, of Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, author of a three-part feature on the IAEA published in Nuclear News in January, February, and March of 1966; the cover of the January 1966 issue, featuring the IAEA’s first headquarters in the Grand Hotel of Vienna, Austria; and a February 1966 IAEA photo of remote handling of radioisotope standard sources at the Seibersdorf laboratory.

A groundbreaking ceremony held last week at the International Atomic Energy Agency’s laboratories in Seibersdorf, Austria, marked the start of construction on a nuclear applications building that will host three state-of-the-art laboratories: Plant Breeding and Genetics, Terrestrial Environment and Radiochemistry, and Nuclear Science and Instrumentation.It was a significant achievement for the second phase of the Renovation of the Nuclear Applications Laboratories initiative, known as ReNuAL2—and a fitting way to observe the 60th anniversary of the nuclear applications laboratories at Seibersdorf, about an hour’s drive south the IAEA’s headquarters in Vienna. For Nuclear Newswire, it was all the reason we needed to dig into the Nuclear News archives and explore the bygone days of research at the IAEA.

New method produces curium crystals for research in a radiochemistry first

September 21, 2022, 7:00AMNuclear News
A new compound of curium photographed at LLNL during crystallography experiments. Crystals of this curium compound are uncolored under ambient light but glow an intense pink-red when exposed to ultraviolet light. (Image: LLNL/Deblonde)

Scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Oregon State University (OSU) have developed a promising new method to isolate and study some of the rarest elements on Earth. Focused first on curium, they have identified three new complexes containing curium ions and revealed the molecules’ 3D structures, as well as previously unknown features.

NIST gets confirmatory order 18 months after research reactor fuel failure

August 3, 2022, 7:01AMNuclear News
NIST's Center for Neutron Research in suburban Gaithersburg, Md. (Photo: NIST)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced on August 2 that it had issued a confirmatory order to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for violating NRC requirements during a February 2021 fuel failure at the 20-MWt NIST Center for Neutron Research (NCNR) research reactor in Gaithersburg, Md. NIST committed to improving its training for fuel handing procedures and related management activities, safety culture program, reactor facility operations staff and management, corrective action program and operational procedures, and emergency response resources and procedures, among other things.

ANS virtual event: Experts share their expectations for low-dose radiation research

July 20, 2022, 3:00PMANS News

The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Mathematics released a report in June recommending that the United States invest a total of $1.5 billion in low-dose radiation research over the next 15 years. Congress is working through the Fiscal Year 2023 appropriations process at this writing, and many in the nuclear community are hopeful that research programs that have been starved of funding and leadership will be reinvigorated and bring long-overdue clarity to questions of low-dose radiation science, policy, and regulation.

INL researchers take microreactor digital twin for a spin

July 19, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
A screenshot taken from a INL video demonstrating MAGNET and its digital twin. (Source: INL)

Researchers at Idaho National Laboratory (INL) recently performed their first digital twin test of the Microreactor Agile Non-nuclear Experimental Testbed (MAGNET) and captured the demonstration in a video posted July 14. The digital twin—a virtual representation of a microreactor—was built using advancements in remote monitoring, autonomous control, and predictive capabilities that could help lower operating costs of microreactor technologies and enhance their safety.

General Atomics looks to silicon carbide for modular tokamak breeding blanket

July 15, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News
This fusion tokamak cutaway illustrates how the GAMBL concept would be incorporated into a fusion pilot plant. The SiC-tungsten composite wall provides superior heat-removal capabilities and durability, and a modular approach enables fabrication using existing technologies. (Image: GA)

Researchers at General Atomics (GA) are proposing a breeding blanket made of modular silicon carbide–based components to withstand the intense conditions in a high-power fusion power plant. The GA modular blanket (GAMBL) concept is described in an article published this month in the journal Fusion Engineering and Design, and was introduced by GA in a July 13 press release.

Register now for ANS virtual event on the future of low-dose radiation research

July 11, 2022, 7:00AMANS News

The United States could invest a total of $1.5 billion in low-dose radiation research over the next 15 years if Congress, the Department of Energy, the National Institutes of Health, and other stakeholders carry out the recommendations set forth in a National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Mathematics report released in June.

Join ANS Executive Director/CEO Craig Piercy on July 15 at 12 p.m. (EDT) for a free public webinar—“High Expectations for the Future of Low-Dose Radiation Research"—on the impact of the National Academies report as the U.S. embarks on a new era of low-dose radiation research.

Universities get $61 million for 74 nuclear research and infrastructure awards

June 20, 2022, 12:04PMNuclear News

Advanced reactor coolants, consent-based siting, and offshore nuclear production of hydrogen are just a few of the topics included among the 74 nuclear science and technology projects awarded more than $61 million by the Department of Energy on June 17. The Nuclear Energy University Program awards, Integrated Research Projects, Nuclear Science User Facilities awards, and Infrastructure awards will support nuclear technology development, infrastructure improvements, and career opportunities at more than 40 U.S. universities in 29 states.

Penn State wants a Westinghouse eVinci microreactor on campus

May 19, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News
Representatives from Westinghouse and Penn State met at Westinghouse headquarters to sign a memorandum of understanding and enter a partnership focused on researching and developing microreactors. From left: Jason Beebe, director of the global transformation office at Westinghouse; Michael Valore, senior director of advance reactor commercialization, Westinghouse; Mike Shaqqo, senior vice president of advanced reactors, Westinghouse; Lora Weiss, senior vice president for research at Penn State; Jean Paul Allain, head of the Ken and Mary Alice Lindquist Department of Nuclear Engineering at Penn State; Geanie Umberger, associate vice president for research and director of industry research collaborations at Penn State; Saya Lee, assistant professor of nuclear engineering; Elia Merzari (back), associate professor of nuclear engineering; and Hilary Ruby, director of transformation for the Americas Operating Plant Services Business Unit at Westinghouse. (Photo: Westinghouse)

Penn State University has announced plans to explore siting a Westinghouse Electric Company eVinci microreactor on its State College campus in central Pennsylvania. Under a memorandum of understanding to perform research and development work that could advance the future commercial deployment of eVinci, a team of researchers in Penn State’s Ken and Mary Alice Lindquist Department of Nuclear Engineering also plans to explore how eVinci could displace some fossil-fueled energy sources on campus.

MSU’s FRIB: Ready to accelerate discoveries in nuclear physics and applications

May 3, 2022, 7:16AMNuclear News
An aerial view of the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams on the Michigan State University campus in East Lansing, Mich. (Photo: FRIB)

Michigan State University’s Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) officially opened yesterday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, elected officials, and guests who had supported the project during its planning and construction, including ANS Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer Craig Piercy. They were there to celebrate the completion—on time and within budget—of the world’s most powerful heavy-ion accelerator and the first accelerator-based Department of Energy Office of Science user facility located on a university campus.

Purdue University mass-alpha spectroscopy research draws notice

April 14, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News

Research into the high-resolution detection of plutonium mixtures by Purdue University professor Rusi Taleyarkhan and his team was featured on the cover of the February issue of the Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectroscopy, published by the British Royal Society of Chemistry.

The published research focuses on novel hybrid mass-alpha spectroscopy technology. Taleyarkhan and his team applied centrifugally tensioned metastable fluid detector sensor technology to the detection of mixtures of plutonium-239/240. This technology can serve as an alternative to conventional alpha radiation spectroscopy sensors and to mass spectroscopy systems, which can take weeks to deploy and are cost-prohibitive, especially when deployed in low-radiation fields for long periods of time.

DOE funds R&D for advanced reactor fuel cycle management

March 14, 2022, 7:01AMNuclear News

The Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E) has awarded a total of $36 million for 11 projects to develop technologies that will limit the amount of waste produced from advanced reactors and will support sustainable domestic fuel stocks. The projects include research into the facilities and systems required to reprocess, recycle, and dispose of spent fuel generated through diverse advanced reactor fuel cycles.

UChicago researchers track neutrinos at Dresden plant using world’s smallest detector

March 7, 2022, 7:00AMNuclear News
Juan Collar led a team of UChicago physicists who built a lightweight, portable neutrino detector to observe the elusive interactions of the ghostly particles. (Photo: Jean Lachat)

Constellation Energy’s Dresden nuclear power plant in Illinois is helping University of Chicago researchers to detect neutrinos in an effort to advance knowledge of the fundamental laws governing particle and nuclear interactions. The researchers are taking advantage of the large number of neutrinos generated by Dresden’s boiling water reactors to conduct experiments, using what UChicago calls the world’s smallest neutrino detector to track and record the ghostlike particles.

DOE to award $22 million for cross-cutting accelerator R&D

February 22, 2022, 7:02AMNuclear News
Instrumentation at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Spallation Neutron Source, an accelerator-based facility that provides the most intense pulsed neutron beams in the world for scientific research and industrial development. (Photo: ORNL)

Researchers advancing particle accelerator technology for medical, security, energy, and industrial applications have a new funding opportunity announced on February 16 by the Department of Energy’s Office of Science (DOE-SC). The funding will support research to advance particle accelerator technology for medical, security, energy, and industrial applications. Grants will be awarded for work focused on innovation, technology transfer, and supply chain resiliency that falls under one of two DOE-SC programs: the Accelerator Stewardship program, which supports cross-disciplinary teams to solve high-impact problems, and the Accelerator Development program, which is aimed at strengthening domestic suppliers of accelerator technology.

IAEA launches cancer care program

February 7, 2022, 12:02PMNuclear News
IAEA director general Rafael Mariano Grossi (left) and WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. (Photo: IAEA)

The International Atomic Energy Agency has launched the Rays of Hope program to tackle a severe shortage of cancer care capacity in poorer countries. The program’s initial focus will be on Africa, where people often die from the disease because of the lack of access to potentially life-saving nuclear medicine and radiotherapy, according to the IAEA.

A video on the program is available on YouTube.

TerraPower seeks fast reactor data through time-tested U.S.-Japan research ties

February 1, 2022, 3:02PMNuclear News
A rendering of the Natrium plant. (Image: TerraPower)

Natrium, a 345-MWe sodium fast reactor with a molten salt energy storage system, was developed by TerraPower and GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy. TerraPower is planning to build the first Natrium demonstration reactor by 2028 with 50-50 cost-shared funding of about $2 billion from the Department of Energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program. And for the requisite data and testing of reactor components to support that deployment, TerraPower is looking to Japan—a country with decades of experience developing sodium fast reactor designs and testing infrastructure.

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.

Shadow corrosion is reproduced in University of Michigan lab

January 14, 2022, 9:36AMNuclear News
[CLICK TO VIEW FULL IMAGE] The diagram at left illustrates the experimental setup and the resulting zirconium oxide layer of varying thickness. The second diagram shows the circular zirconium alloy sample that is affected by the band of nickel alloy and radiation. Finally, the electron image at right shows a band of oxidation on the zirconium alloy sample. (Images: Peng Wang, Michigan Ion Beam Laboratory)

A longstanding issue in boiling water reactors—shadow corrosion on zirconium alloy fuel rods and fuel channels—has been reproduced in the Michigan Ion Beam Laboratory as part of an effort to understand and prevent the phenomenon. Research led by Peng Wang, a University of Michigan assistant research scientist in nuclear engineering and radiological sciences, was published in the January 2022 issue of the Journal of Nuclear Materials and described in a recent university news article.