The earliest DT nuclear fusion discoveries

April 13, 2023, 3:01PMNuclear NewsM. B. Chadwick, M. W. Paris, G. M. Hale, J. P. Lestone, C. Bates, and S. A. Andrews

Fusion energy research has seen exciting recent breakthroughs. The National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has achieved ignition,1,2 and in the United Kingdom, the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy’s Joint European Torus (JET) has produced a record 59 megajoules of fusion energy.3 Against this backdrop of advances, we provide an account of the earliest fusion discoveries from the 1930s to the 1950s.* Some of this technical history has not been previously appreciated—most notably the first 1938 reporting of deuterium-tritium (DT) 14-MeV neutrons at the University of Michigan by Arthur Ruhlig.4 This experiment had a critical role in inspiring early thermonuclear fusion research directions. This article presents some unique insights from the extensive holdings within Los Alamos National Laboratory’s archives—including sources typically unavailable to a broad audience.

ARPA-E picks eight teams to prove—or debunk—low-energy nuclear reactions

February 23, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News

The Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E) announced $10 million in funding on February 17 for eight projects designed to determine whether low-energy nuclear reactions (LENR)—historically and sometimes disparagingly known as “cold fusion”—could someday be a carbon-free energy source. ARPA-E intends the funding to “break the stalemate” and determine if LENR holds any merit for future energy research.

UM's Fastest Path to Zero Initiative evaluates progress in supporting “Carla”

January 26, 2023, 9:31AMANS Nuclear Cafe

In a follow-up to A Step-by-Step Guide to Nuclear Innovation Policy, which was released by think tank Third Way in 2016, the Fastest Path to Zero Initiative of the University of Michigan has now published “Young Carla,” an eponymous “prequel” about a fictional nuclear engineering student. Carla was introduced in the 2016 report as a graduate nuclear engineering student with an idea for a new type of nuclear energy technology. The report explained how wise policy decisions in the United States could improve government-private partnerships so that Carla’s idea could be commercially demonstrated.

Study favors SMRs for use at future electric truck charging stations

January 23, 2023, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The use of small modular reactors would be an excellent, cost-effective way to recharge electric heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs), such as trucks, according to a recent study published in Applied Energy. The Idaho National Laboratory–funded study was conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan.

ORNL names new associate director of fusion, fission energy and science

January 4, 2023, 7:02AMNuclear News


American Nuclear Society member Jeremy Busby has been named associate laboratory director for the Fusion and Fission Energy and Science Directorate at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, effective January 1.

Busby will oversee the directorate’s facilities, capabilities, and scientists and engineers who are tackling such challenges as extending operations of the current U.S. nuclear reactor fleet, investigating economical and flexible advanced reactor systems, and making fusion energy a viable part of the nation’s energy portfolio.

“ORNL has a proud history of addressing compelling challenges in both fusion and fission energy systems, and I’m honored to contribute to our success moving forward,” Busby said. “ORNL’s Fusion and Fission Energy and Science Directorate has the world-leading expertise to advance the development and deployment of both fusion and fission. Combined with the additional strengths across ORNL’s research and support organizations and ORNL’s unique capabilities, we will fortify our nation’s energy transition.”

Michigan EMERGE event to focus on diversity in engineering

October 5, 2022, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The 2022 Michigan Engineering Research and Graduate Education (EMERGE) event will be held from Sunday, October 30 to Tuesday, November 1, at the University of Michigan College of Engineering in Ann Arbor. The expenses-paid, three-day event is designed to introduce a diverse cohort of prospective students to Michigan engineering doctoral programs.

Universities study liquid-fueled nuclear thermal propulsion concept for NASA

March 11, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News
Ben Campbell, a graduate research assistant and master’s degree student in aerospace systems engineering, works on the Bubbling Liquid Experiment Navigating Driven Extreme Rotation, or BLENDER, device at UAH’s Johnson Research Center. (Photo: UAH/Michael Mercier)

With three commercial teams under contract to produce reactor designs for nuclear thermal propulsion rockets that would use solid high-assay low-enriched uranium fuel to heat hydrogen propellant, NASA’s investment in nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) has increased in recent years. But just as there is more than one way to fuel a terrestrial reactor, other fuels are under consideration for future NTP rocket engines.

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.

Biden picks ANS Fellow to lead NNSA defense programs

December 16, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News


President Biden yesterday announced his intent to nominate Marvin Adams, an ANS Fellow, for the position of deputy administrator for defense programs at the National Nuclear Security Administration.

The announcement drew the following response from energy secretary Jennifer Granholm: “Marvin is a unique success story, having started his career at a DOE lab and now regarded as the nation’s foremost academic expert on safeguarding our nuclear stockpile. If confirmed, Marvin will work to keep our nation—and our world—safe from nuclear threats. I am deeply grateful for Marvin’s willingness to serve and look forward to his speedy confirmation.”

Former NRC chairman joins Southern Company board

October 21, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News


Kristine Svinicki, former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, has joined the board of directors of Southern Company. Southern announced her election as an independent director on Monday. She joins the board’s Business Security and Resiliency Committee, as well as its Operations, Environmental, and Safety Committee.

“As the longest-serving member in the history of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Kristine brings to Southern Company a wealth of experience advising energy policy at the federal and state levels,” said Southern chairman, president, and chief executive officer Tom Fanning. “Kristine’s knowledge of and expertise in nuclear technologies will be invaluable as we pursue the full range of energy resources. Moreover, Kristine’s insight into the energy challenges of tomorrow places Southern Company in a prime position to serve customers, communities, employees, and stockholders well into the future.”

University infrastructure bill calls for investments in advanced nuclear, workforce

August 4, 2021, 7:07AMNuclear News
A rendering of Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation’s micro modular reactor as proposed for construction on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus. (Graphic: USNC)

A bipartisan group of legislators has introduced a bill to invest in 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. The National Nuclear University Research Infrastructure Reinvestment Act of 2021 (H.R. 4819) was introduced in the House of Representatives by Reps. Anthony Gonzalez (R., Ohio), Sean Casten (D., Ill.), Peter Meijer (R., Mich.), and Bill Foster (D., Ill).

NEDHO: A nuclear education alliance

December 11, 2020, 12:04PMNuclear NewsKostadin Ivanov, Todd Allen

The Nuclear Engineering Department Heads Organization (NEDHO) is an alliance of the heads (chairs) of about 30 nuclear engineering schools, departments, and programs in the United States. NEDHO is managed by an executive committee consisting of the chair, the chair-elect, and the three most immediate past-chairs. NEDHO meetings are normally held in conjunction with the American Nuclear Society’s national meetings. The NEDHO meetings are open to anyone, but on matters that require a vote, each institution is limited to a single official representative (i.e., one vote).