Purdue University and Duke Energy to explore feasibility of on-campus SMR

May 4, 2022, 7:01AMNuclear News
Purdue University, in West Lafayette, Ind.

Purdue University and Duke Energy have announced that they plan to jointly explore the feasibility of using advanced nuclear energy to meet the university’s long-term energy needs, “a move that may be unprecedented for a college campus.” A small modular reactor could meet the current and future needs for Purdue’s West Lafayette, Ind., campus, as well as provide excess power to the state’s electric grid, according to a joint press release.

TVA and OPG form partnership to develop and deploy SMRs

April 21, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

The Tennessee Valley Authority and Ontario Power Generation announced on April 19 that they have formed a partnership to develop and deploy advanced nuclear technology as part of their broader efforts to work toward clean energy. According to the agreement, the companies will coordinate their activities in designing, licensing, constructing, and operating small modular reactors.

SMR technology is “very promising” for the chemical industry, says Dow CEO

April 5, 2022, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Fitterling

Nuclear power from small modular reactors should be a central part of the chemical industry’s drive toward achieving carbon neutrality, according to Jim Fitterling, chairman and chief executive officer of Dow Inc. Fitterling’s comments, delivered at the 2022 International Petrochemical Conference, hosted by American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers and held March 27–29 in San Antonio, Texas, were reported by Independent Commodity Intelligence Services (ICIS).

Beyond renewables: The ICIS report noted that more than 25 percent of Dow’s manufacturing sites are fully or partially powered by renewable energy sources, including wind, solar, and hydropower. Nevertheless, Fitterling said, “We need a broader and more realistic approach to feed our energy needs. Renewables are great, and we’re a tremendous supporter . . . but renewables alone are not the answer.” He added that renewable power generation would have to increase 90 times to equal the energy that is currently provided by hydrocarbons in the United States.

TVA, ORNL partner to explore new nuclear, other clean technologies

March 2, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
High-voltage power lines carry electricity generated by the Tennessee Valley Authority to Oak Ridge National Laboratory. (Photo: Dobie Gillispie/ORNL, DOE)

The Tennessee Valley Authority and Oak Ridge National Laboratory have signed a memorandum of understanding to advance decarbonization technologies in pursuit of the federal government’s net-zero-by-2050 goal, the utility and the lab announced yesterday in a joint press release.

Czech Republic’s energy future includes nuclear, renewables, says new government

January 11, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
The Temelin nuclear power plant in Czech Republic.

In a wide-ranging “program statement” laying out its policy priorities, the Czech Republic’s new, center-right government has endorsed nuclear energy and renewables and called for power generation from coal to be phased out by 2033.

The final version of the statement was released on January 7 by the five-party coalition government, sworn into office last month and led by Prime Minister Petr Fiala, head of the Civic Democratic Party.

Attempted overturn of Montana nuclear power law fails

January 10, 2022, 7:01AMNuclear News

A Montana citizens group has failed in its effort to repeal H.B. 273, a recently enacted law that transfers the power to authorize the construction of nuclear power facilities in the state from the public, via referendum, to the legislature. H.B. 273 was signed by Montana governor Greg Gianforte last year, overturning the Montana Empowering Voters to Approve Proposed Nuclear Facilities Initiative, which had been on the books since 1978.

At Senate hearing, Markey attacks, Hanson defends

December 8, 2021, 9:36AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Markey

At an otherwise congenial Nuclear Regulatory Commission oversight hearing held last week by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Sen. Ed Markey (D., Mass.) made clear his strong disagreement with the agency’s November 3 decision to approve a proposed rule amending regulations for nuclear plants undergoing decommissioning.

“I fear the NRC now stands for Not Recognizing Concerns,” Markey said. “The NRC has decided that the best way to shield itself from criticism around the decommissioning process is to take itself out of the process. In the latest version of the proposed decommissioning rule, the NRC would have no ability to approve, no ability to change, no ability to deny plants’ decommissioning proposals, known as post-shutdown decommissioning activities reports. Its only job would be to acknowledge receipt of the report. Our independent nuclear safety regulator would serve as a glorified filing cabinet. Ceding the job of regulator to the nuclear industry itself is not a win for safety, communities, or for the energy sector.”

DOE awards $8.5 million to fund advanced nuclear projects

November 29, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News

In its latest financial nod of encouragement to the U.S. nuclear industry, the Department of Energy has announced awards totaling $8.5 million to five industry-led projects, with the aim of accelerating the commercial deployment of advanced reactors and fuels.

The awards are funded via the Office of Nuclear Energy’s U.S. Industry Opportunities for Advanced Nuclear Technology Development funding opportunity, which, since 2017, has invested more than $215 million in advanced nuclear technologies. Solicitations are broken down into three pathways: first-of-a-kind nuclear demonstration readiness projects, advanced reactor development projects, and direct regulatory assistance.

Biden signs infrastructure bill into law

November 16, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News

Surrounded by members of his cabinet, congressional leaders, and others, President Biden yesterday afternoon signed into law the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act—representing a much-needed victory for the president, whose approval rating, according to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll, sits at 41 percent.

Trillion-dollar infrastructure bill passes House

November 8, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News

After hours of squabbling between left-wing and centrist Democrats, the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill (H.R. 3684)—one of the two main pillars of President Biden’s domestic agenda—passed the House of Representatives late Friday night and has been sent to the White House for signing. The final tally was 228–206, with 13 Republicans joining most Democrats in casting their votes in favor of the legislation.

NuScale simulator installed at new Idaho laboratory

September 3, 2021, 7:06AMNuclear News
A NuScale representative conducts training on the nuclear power plant control room simulator for students and faculty at CAES. (Photo: CAES)

The Center for Advanced Energy Studies (CAES) has announced the opening of the Small Modular Reactor Simulator Laboratory, featuring NuScale Power’s Energy Exploration Center, at its headquarters in Idaho Falls, Idaho. The new lab will increase CAES’s capabilities to train future scientists, engineers, and members of the energy workforce and will be used to educate the public about nuclear energy and reactor technology, according to an August 31 CAES press release.

Sandia expands software billed as “Swiss Army knife” of nuclear system safety

August 30, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News
Sandia's Brad Beeny (left) and Larry Humphries examine remnants from a series of lower head failure experiments. Results from these and other experiments are used to inform nuclear accident modeling computer code. (Photo: Randy Montoya)

Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have been expanding MELCOR—the severe accident modeling computer code used by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to evaluate the safety of light water reactors—to study the small modular reactors and non-light-water advanced reactors that are under development. An article published in Sandia Lab News on August 27 describes in detail how MELCOR is being expanded to work with different reactor geometries, fuel types, and coolant systems.

Nuclear I&C Modernization: The Future is Digital

June 4, 2021, 9:34AMSponsored ContentRobert Ammon, Technical Director of Digital Safety Systems at Curtiss-Wright Nuclear Division

As the U.S. nuclear industry moves into plant life extension and subsequent license renewals, the modernization of safety instrumentation and control (I&C) systems holds significant potential to transform plant operations. Automated system diagnostics, equipment health monitoring, and performance indications reduce the need for manual surveillance activities and enable condition-based maintenance, resulting in improved system reliability and reduced maintenance costs. Despite these benefits, adoption of digital I&C systems for safety-related applications across the domestic nuclear fleet has been slow. U.S. nuclear power plants that do choose to embrace the transition from analog to digital are in good company; international plants have successfully implemented digital safety systems for more than a decade. Furthermore, digital safety systems are also the first choice of the growing small modular reactor (SMR) and advanced reactor (AR) communities.

Nebraska ponders advanced nuclear

May 13, 2021, 6:59AMNuclear News

Bostelman

Companies that build advanced nuclear reactors in Nebraska would be eligible for tax incentives should a measure now being considered by that state’s lawmakers, Legislative Bill 84, become law.

Under L.B. 84, sponsored by Sen. Bruce Bostelman (R., 23rd Dist.), a renewable energy firm that uses nuclear energy to produce electricity could take advantage of the ImagiNE Nebraska Act—a business tax incentive program signed into law by Gov. Pete Ricketts in August of last year. The bill adds “nuclear electric power generation” to the act’s list of renewable energy sources qualifying for incentives. (Sources already listed in the act include wind, solar, energy storage, geothermal, hydroelectric, biomass, and transmutation of elements.)

Partnership formed to support STEM and promote nuclear in Canada

May 11, 2021, 6:59AMNuclear News

The Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA) last week announced that it has signed a memorandum of understanding with the North American Young Generation in Nuclear (NAYGN) to work together to advocate for initiatives that support STEM and the promotion of nuclear science, energy, and technology. Signed earlier this year by CNA president and chief executive officer John Gorman and NAYGN president Amber Von Ruden, the MOU also calls for collaboration on initiatives to recruit and attract students to nuclear.

Trump leaves space nuclear policy executive order for Biden team

January 20, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News

A hot fire test of the core stage for NASA’s Space Launch System rocket at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi was not completed as planned. The SLS is the vehicle meant to propel a crewed mission to the moon in 2024. Source: NASA Television

Among the executive orders President Trump issued during his last weeks in office was “Promoting Small Modular Reactors for National Defense and Space Exploration,” which builds on the Space Policy Directives published during his term. The order, issued on January 12, calls for actions within the next six months by NASA and the Department of Defense (DOD), together with the Department of Energy and other federal entities. Whether the Biden administration will retain some, all, or none of the specific goals of the Trump administration’s space nuclear policy remains to be seen, but one thing is very clear: If deep space exploration remains a priority, nuclear-powered and -propelled spacecraft will be needed.

The prospects for near-term deployment of nuclear propulsion and power systems in space improved during Trump’s presidency. However, Trump left office days after a hot fire test of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket did not go as planned. The SLS rocket is meant to propel crewed missions to the moon in 2024 and to enable a series of long-duration lunar missions that could be powered by small lunar reactor installations. The test on January 16 of four engines that were supposed to fire for over eight minutes was automatically aborted after one minute, casting some doubt that a planned November 2021 Artemis I mission can go ahead on schedule.

Advanced reactors important for carbon-free power production in U.S., tweets Vice News

December 15, 2020, 12:13PMANS Nuclear Cafe

A video posted to Twitter by Vice News discusses the prospect of advanced reactors being an important mix of carbon-free power production in the United States. Hosted by Gelareh Darabi, an award-winning Canadian-British-Iranian journalist and documentary filmmaker, the video provides quick and easy statistics for the general audience and pulls from social media influencer I_sodope. It also includes comments from nuclear experts.