Argonne-led team models fluid dynamics of entire SMR core

June 9, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear News
This image shows the individual pins in a full-core nuclear reactor simulation. (Image: ANL)

Coolant flow around the fuel pins in a light water reactor core plays a critical role in determining the reactor’s performance. For yet-to-be-built small modular reactors, a thorough understanding of coolant flow will be key to successfully designing, building, and licensing first-of-a-kind reactors.

“Now is the time” for more ATR capacity: A conversation with Lightbridge

May 28, 2021, 12:06PMNuclear News
A photo of a prototype Lightbridge fuel assembly. (Photo: Lightbridge)

Operators at the Advanced Test Reactor at Idaho National Laboratory have begun a nine-month outage to perform a core internals changeout. When the ATR is restarted in early 2022, the top head closure plate of the pressurized water test reactor will have new access points that could permit the irradiation of more fuel and material samples in the reactor’s high-flux neutron conditions.

Micro Modular Reactor reaches Canadian licensing milestone

May 24, 2021, 9:27AMNuclear News
Artist’s rendering of the MMR project. (Image: USNC)

Global First Power’s (GFP) Micro Modular Reactor (MMR) project has moved to the formal license review phase with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), becoming the first small modular reactor to do so.

Another Canadian province signs on for SMR development

April 20, 2021, 9:31AMNuclear News
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney at an online event on April 14, after signing an agreement on small modular reactor development. Photo: Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has added his signature to a memorandum of understanding on small modular reactor development that was signed in 2019 by the premiers of New Brunswick, Ontario, and Saskatchewan. Kenney signed the document last week at a virtual event that also promoted the release of Feasibility of Small Modular Reactor Development and Deployment in Canada—a study formally requested as part of the MOU.

Making emergency planning zones smarter: a risk-informed approach for new reactors

April 16, 2021, 2:52PMNuclear NewsCurtis Smith, Koroush Shirvan, Jason Christensen, and Kurt Vedros

The health and safety of the public and protecting people from the consequences of a significant release of radioactive material has been a top priority since the early days of the civilian nuclear energy program. After World War II, it was realized that the core inventory of radionuclides is a potential hazard. From this knowledge, emergency planning zones (EPZs) for nuclear power plants were established.

Pandemic-delayed ANS Student Conference kicks off with enthusiasm

April 9, 2021, 11:59AMANS News
NCSU: Site of the 2021 ANS Student Conference

North Carolina State University was finally able to host the ANS Student Conference, April 8 to 10. After the 2020 event was canceled due to the global coronavirus pandemic, the 2021 version is being held virtually for the first time.

The conference's opening session is available for registered attendees to view online.

Study: SMRs could offer low-cost decarbonization for Canada’s industrial sector

April 8, 2021, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe

New research indicates that small modular reactors have the potential to deliver cost-effective emission reductions in Canada’s heavy-industry sector. The research was conducted by consulting firms EnviroEconomics and Navius Research, with support from the Canadian Nuclear Association and the Canadian Nuclear Industry SMR Secretariat, along with the CANDU Owners Group.

Researchers explored a variety of cost and technical assumptions for deploying SMRs. Across all scenarios, SMRs delivered low-cost emission reductions, driving down the cost of getting Canada to net zero by 2050—a stated goal of the Trudeau administration. With deployments set to begin as early as 2026, SMRs could be widespread by 2035 as the demand increases rapidly for reductions in the industrial sector, according to the researchers.

A bright future ahead for nuclear engineering students

April 5, 2021, 3:00PMANS NewsMary Lou Dunzik-Gougar

Mary Lou Dunzik-Gougar

Happy spring to you, my nuclear comrades. As I write this column (in early March), I’m glancing out the window at the 10 inches of snow still remaining in my backyard. By the time you read this, the snow may be gone, and spring flowers may be poking out of the earth. Every year, I look forward to gardening season, which is short but fun in Idaho.

Over the past year, unfortunately, many of the things we looked forward to didn’t happen. Hardest hit, of course, were the people who fell ill with COVID-­19 and those who lost jobs. But in the “disappointed” category, our students were especially vulnerable. Elementary school students, who most need face-­to-­face contact with their teachers, were isolated at home. Adolescents and teens had no dances, football games, or lunchtimes with their friends. High school and college seniors couldn’t celebrate graduation. University freshmen, who already cope with significant change and stress, added to their agendas the threat of a global pandemic and the complication of distance learning.

NCSU to host SMR technical library with support from endowment

April 1, 2021, 9:32AMNuclear News

The North Carolina State University (NCSU) Libraries Department and the Department of Nuclear Engineering are collaborating to build a small modular reactor technical library at NCSU. The library resources will be available to the NCSU research community and to TerraPower/GE Hitachi and X-energy, both of which have signed teaming agreements with NCSU researchers to support planned advanced reactor demonstrations within the next seven years.

Making the new library collection possible: a generous donation from NCSU alumnus Stephen Rea, who together with his wife, Phyllis, formed the Stephen and Phyllis Rea Endowment for Mechanical Engineering Collections in 2015.

“We wanted to seed the endowment and grow it through donations to pursue research and development of green advanced power generation technologies,” Rea explained. “Supporting the advancement of SMR technology development fits our mission statement perfectly.”

Canada invests $40M in Moltex SMR technology

March 25, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear News

Artist’s rendering of the Stable Salt Reactor–Wasteburner (SSR–W) and WAste to Stable Salt (WATSS) facility. Image: Moltex

The Canadian government has awarded C$50.5 million (about $40.2 million) to Moltex Energy Canada to support small modular reactor research and technology development in New Brunswick. The investment, announced March 18, was provided by the government’s Strategic Innovation Fund and its Regional Economic Growth Through Innovation program, part of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA).

In a press release on the funding, Moltex said it plans to build the world’s first 300-MW Stable Salt Reactor–Wasteburner (SSR–W) and WAste to Stable Salt (WATSS) facility at the Point Lepreau Generating Station site in Saint John, New Brunswick, and provide electricity to the grid by the early 2030s. According to the company, its WATSS process, which recycles existing used nuclear fuel, has the potential to reduce storage needs for that fuel.

Moltex also noted its expectation that jobs created through the project will, over the next 15 years, contribute approximately C$1 billion (about $800 million) to Canada’s gross domestic product and result in some C$100 million (about $79.7 million) in federal government revenue.

U.K. endorses nuclear for green hydrogen future

February 24, 2021, 9:29AMNuclear News

Nuclear power could produce as much as one-third of the United Kingdom’s clean hydrogen needs by 2050, posits the Hydrogen Roadmap, a 12-page report recently approved by the Nuclear Industry Council (NIC) and released last week by the Nuclear Industry Association (NIA).

The NIC, co-chaired by the British government’s minister for business, energy, and clean growth, and the chairman of the NIA, sets strategic priorities for government-industry collaboration to promote nuclear power in the United Kingdom.

The road to net zero: The report outlines how large-scale and small modular reactors could produce both the power and the heat necessary to produce emissions-free, or “green,” hydrogen. Existing large-scale reactors, it says, could produce green hydrogen today at scale through electrolysis, as could the next generation of gigawatt-scale reactors. Also, according to the report, SMRs, the first unit of which could be deployed within the next 10 years, could unlock possibilities for green hydrogen production near industrial clusters.

Canadian survey reveals solid support for nuclear investment

February 22, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News

A new survey exploring the attitudes of Canadians toward climate change and their expectations and level of support for government intervention to tackle the issue finds that 86 percent believe that Canada should invest in clean technologies, including renewables and nuclear energy.

The survey, conducted by research and strategy firm Abacus Data between January 29 and February 3, was commissioned by the Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA).

CNA says: “It’s clear there is strong support for the government to implement a mix of solutions to address the [climate change] challenge, including investing in renewables and clean nuclear technologies,” stated John Gorman, CNA president and chief executive officer, in a February 18 press release. “We continue to see that the more understanding Canadians have, the more they support zero-emissions nuclear technologies to help reach our net zero 2050 goal. This includes investment in small modular reactors, which Canadians believe bring value to replace carbon-based fuels with clean electricity, decarbonize high-emissions industries, and transition remote communities away from reliance on diesel.”

Bulgaria to evaluate NuScale SMRs for Kozloduy

February 22, 2021, 12:08PMNuclear News

Bulgaria’s Kozloduy nuclear plant

Portland, Ore.–based NuScale Power has signed a memorandum of understanding with Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant–New Build Plc (KNPP-NB) to discuss the possible deployment of NuScale’s small modular reactor technology at Bulgaria’s Kozloduy site. KNPP-NB was established in 2012 to commission new nuclear power capacity at Kozloduy.

Specifics: Under the MOU, NuScale will support KNPP-NB as it analyzes the suitability of NuScale’s SMRs for Kozloduy, located in northwest Bulgaria. The analysis will include the development of a project time line “with milestone deliverables for a feasibility study” and a project-specific cost estimate, as well as engineering, planning, licensing, and other activities, according to a February 17 NuScale press release.

Big Sky Country mulls small modular reactors

February 18, 2021, 6:58AMNuclear News

A Montana Senate committee last week passed a joint resolution calling for the creation of a legislative panel to study the feasibility of replacing the coal-fired units at the state’s Colstrip power plant with advanced small modular reactors.

Two of Colstrip’s four coal boilers were permanently closed in January 2020, and most energy-sector observers expect the remaining two units to be retired within the next few years, given coal’s declining prospects in states such as Washington, which has passed legislation banning utilities from using coal power after 2025.

The resolution, known as SJ3, also calls on the panel to evaluate current Montana regulations that need revision in order to enable the construction and operation of advanced nuclear reactors. The study would need to be concluded before September 15, 2022.

New Brunswick awards additional funding for SMR development

February 17, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear News

New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs announces C$20 million in funding for the ARC-100 small modular reactor. Photo: ARC Canada

The Canadian province of New Brunswick has awarded C$20 million (about $15.7 million) to ARC Clean Energy Canada (ARC Canada) to support the development of the proposed ARC-100 advanced small modular reactor. The premier of New Brunswick, Blaine Higgs, announced the award during his state of the province address on February 10.

ARC Canada, headquartered in Saint John, New Brunswick, is a subsidiary of U.S.-based ARC Clean Energy, formerly known as Advanced Reactor Concepts. The company’s ARC-100 is a 100-MWe integrated sodium-cooled fast reactor that uses a metallic uranium alloy fuel. Based on Argonne National Laboratory’s Experimental Breeder Reactor-II, the reactor is designed to operate for 20-plus years without refueling.

In October 2019, ARC Canada announced that it had completed the first phase of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s (CNSC) vendor design review. (While the phase-one assessment provides detailed feedback regarding a vendor’s understanding of the CNSC’s requirements for a nuclear power plant in Canada, it does not certify the design or license the reactor.)

TVA invites input on Clinch River plans

February 3, 2021, 3:19PMNuclear News

An advanced nuclear reactor technology park is hoped for the 935-acre Clinch River site. Image: TVA

The Tennessee Valley Authority is seeking public comment on its notice of intent to prepare a programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS) on proposed actions for an advanced nuclear reactor technology park at the 935-acre Clinch River site near Oak Ridge, Tenn. The notice, published yesterday, is also expected to appear in this Friday’s Federal Register.

The consideration of a new nuclear facility at the Clinch River site “supports TVA’s mission statement and is another way to assess how to serve the people of the Tennessee Valley,” according to TVA.

Your turn: TVA is requesting comments on the scope of the PEIS, alternatives being considered (including a no-action alternative), and environmental issues. Comments are due by March 19 and can be submitted online, via email, or by mail to J. Taylor Cates, NEPA Specialist, 1101 Market Street, BR 2C-C, Chattanooga, TN 37402.

TVA recommends giving feedback electronically, due to COVID-19 teleworking restrictions.

Study finds Estonia’s geology suitable for borehole repository

February 3, 2021, 9:29AMRadwaste Solutions

A preliminary study conducted by the nuclear waste storage and disposal startup company Deep Isolation found that Estonia’s geology is capable of safely hosting a deep horizontal borehole repository for radioactive waste from advanced nuclear reactors.

The study, commissioned by advanced reactor deployment company Fermi Energia, found no fundamental geologic limitations to disposing of nuclear waste in deep horizontal boreholes, according to Deep Isolation. In addition, the study noted that a wide range of locations could be demonstrated to comply with International Atomic Energy Agency regulations for geologic disposal.

The findings: Results of the study, which was conducted in collaboration with Estonian geologic and drilling company Engineering Bureau STEIGER, will be presented as part of Fermi Energia’s one-day conference on small modular reactors, "New Generation Nuclear Energy in Estonia," on February 9. Registration for the event is available online.

NuScale SMR chosen for U.K. wind-nuclear hybrid

January 18, 2021, 12:01PMANS Nuclear Cafe

British hybrid clean energy company Shearwater Energy announced on January 15 that it is joining with U.S.-based NuScale Power to develop a hybrid project using wind energy and small modular reactor technology to produce power and green hydrogen.

According to news reports, the two companies signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on an initial project, which could be sited at the now-decommissioned Wylfa nuclear power station on the island of Anglesey, off the northwestern coast of Wales. No land agreements have been reached, however.

U.S. boosts SMR development in Romania

January 18, 2021, 7:04AMNuclear News

U.S. ambassador to Romania Adrian Zuckerman (right) and SNN chief executive officer Cosmin Ghita at the January signing. Photo: U.S. Embassy in Romania

The U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) has awarded a grant worth an undisclosed amount to Romania’s nuclear energy authority, Societatea Nationala Nuclearelectrica (SNN), for technical assistance to support the development of small modular reactors in that country, the agency announced on January 14.

The grant will be used to identify a short list of SMR-suitable sites, assess SMR technology options, and develop site-specific licensing roadmaps. SNN has selected Chicago-based Sargent & Lundy to carry out the assistance.

Holtec SMR could be built at Oyster Creek site

January 11, 2021, 3:00PMANS News

The site of the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station in Lacey Township, N.J., could be the location for Holtec International’s SMR-160 small modular reactor, according to an AP News story published last week.

ARDP investment: Holtec received $147.5 million in Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program funding to demonstrate its SMR design. Company spokesperson Joe Delmar said, “As part of our application to the Department of Energy for its advanced reactor demonstration program, we expressed interest in possibly locating an SMR-160 small modular reactor at the Oyster Creek decommissioning site in the future. This concept is only preliminary and something we would likely discuss with Lacey Township and the community if plans to locate (the reactor) at Oyster Creek evolve.”