One man’s trash: Extracting valuable isotopes from waste material

March 17, 2022, 9:31AMRadwaste Solutions
A vial containing Th-299 extracted from uranyl nitrate.

This past October, the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM) and its contractor Isotek successfully completed processing and disposing the low-dose inventory of uranium-233 stored at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), ending a two-year effort that has eliminated a portion of the site’s legacy nuclear material and provided rare nuclear isotopes for next-generation cancer treatment research.

U.S. to help rid Norway of HEU

September 2, 2021, 3:02PMNuclear News

Energy secretary Jennifer Granholm (top photo) and Norwegian minister of Trade and Industry Iselin Nybø (bottom photo, right) hold up signed versions of an MOU on the conversion of Norway’s HEU to LEU. (Photos: NNSA)

The U.S. Department of Energy and Norway’s Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Fisheries have signed a memorandum of understanding to advance a project aimed at eliminating Norway’s high-enriched uranium by downblending it to low-enriched uranium. If the project is successfully completed, Norway will become the 34th country (plus Taiwan) to be considered HEU-free.

In the downblending process, HEU is mixed with depleted or natural uranium to reduce the U-235 concentration to below 20 percent, resulting in LEU, which cannot be used to make an improvised nuclear device (aka “dirty bomb”). According to the DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration, the challenge with Norway’s HEU has been that much of it is mixed with thorium, making the use of other disposition techniques more problematic.

A closer look: Signed on September 1 by U.S. energy secretary Jennifer Granholm and her Norwegian counterpart, Iselin Nybø, minister of trade and industry, the MOU calls for small-scale downblending activities to begin in 2022 using Norway’s existing infrastructure. It also paves the way for the eventual deployment of the DOE’s Mobile Melt-Consolidate system to complete the work.

China moves closer to completion of world’s first thorium reactor

July 22, 2021, 6:58AMANS Nuclear Cafe
China’s molten salt loop experiment. (Photo: Thorium Energy World)

China is moving ahead with the development of an experimental reactor that would be the first of its kind in the world and “could prove key to the pursuit of clean and safe nuclear power,” according to an article in New Atlas.

Nuclear Energy Development and Slowing Climate Change

August 21, 2013, 1:55PMANS Nuclear CafeJerry Nolan

We don't really know how much trouble we are in with global warming, but if it continues, experts tell us to expect flooding in coastal areas, intense storms, droughts, regional food and water shortages, mass migrations, and social upheaval. There is probably a tipping point, the point at which anthropogenic global warming becomes irreversible, so there is an urgency to developing safe, clean, cheap energy. Scientists and engineers are in a race to find a solution.