ORNL to examine irradiated accident tolerant fuel assemblies

December 7, 2020, 12:02PMNuclear News

An accident tolerant fuel experiment developed by Global Nuclear Fuel arrives at Oak Ridge National Laboratory for testing. Photo: ORNL

Global Nuclear Fuel (GNF) has announced that irradiated lead test assemblies of its IronClad and ARMOR accident tolerant fuel (ATF) have been delivered to Oak Ridge National Laboratory for examination. The unfueled IronClad rods and fueled ARMOR rods, the first ATF samples to be installed in a commercial reactor, completed a 24-month fuel cycle at the Hatch nuclear plant near Baxley, Ga., in February and were shipped to ORNL in early November.

The test samples, manufactured at GNF’s facility in Wilmington, N.C., are part of an industry-led effort with the Department of Energy to commercialize new fuels that could help boost the performance and economics of U.S. reactors within the decade. Framatome and Westinghouse are also involved in the DOE’s ATF program.

According to GNF’s December 3 announcement, ORNL’s examination of the samples will include visual inspections, microscopy, and measurements of the thickness, corrosion, and other mechanical and material properties of the cladding. These data, GNF said, will be used to determine the performance benefits of the materials and support the licensing of new fuel technologies with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy noted in a December 4 press release that initial visual inspections of the test samples showed no visible signs of flaws or degradation on either of the assemblies.

Second license renewal sought for Wisconsin plant

November 23, 2020, 12:00PMNuclear News

Point Beach nuclear plant. Photo: NRC

NextEra Energy submitted a license renewal (SLR) application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission seeking to add 20 years to the licenses of the two units at the Point Beach plant. The plant is located on the shore of Lake Michigan, in Two Rivers, Wis.

The application, submitted November 16, is the first SLR application for a Midwestern nuclear plant, according to NRC spokeswoman Viktoria Mitlyng.

Point Beach’s initial license renewal was issued in 2005.

For more on the story, see this Wisconsin State Journal report.

U.S. companies said to be in talks with U.K. on Welsh nuclear project

November 11, 2020, 3:00PMNuclear News

Artist's concept of the Wylfa Newydd project. Image: Horizon Nuclear Power

The London-based newspaper Financial Times is reporting that a consortium of U.S. firms is holding discussions with the U.K. government to revive Wylfa Newydd, the nuclear new-build project in Wales from which Tokyo-based Hitachi Ltd. withdrew in September. According to the November 10 FT story—which is based on an anonymous source—the consortium is led by Bechtel and includes Southern Company and Westinghouse.

Complaint filed with FERC to save Diablo Canyon from early closure

November 2, 2020, 3:01PMNuclear News

A nuclear advocacy group is asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to review the approval by California regulators of the decision by Pacific Gas and Electric in 2016 to prematurely retire its Diablo Canyon plant—the Golden State’s only remaining operating nuclear power facility—in 2025.

On October 26, the nonprofit organization Californians for Green Nuclear Power Inc. (CGNP) filed a 32-page complaint with FERC in the matter, listing as respondents the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC), California Independent System Operator (CAISO), California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), California State Water Resources Control Board (CSWRCB), and California State Lands Commission (CSLC).

Nuclear part of conversation at U.S.-India “2+2” talk

October 30, 2020, 11:59AMNuclear News

From left: Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo participate in the U.S.-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue plenary session with Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh and Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar in New Delhi, India, on October 27, 2020. Photo: State Department/Ron Przysucha

In New Delhi earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper joined their Indian counterparts, Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and Minister of Defense Rajnath Singh, for the third U.S.-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue—a yearly confab focused on strengthening the strategic relationship between the two nations. (In February of this year, the White House elevated that relationship to Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership status.)

The first 2+2 dialogue took place in New Delhi in September 2018, with a second held in Washington, D.C., in 2019. Washington is scheduled to host the fourth such meeting next year.

NRC gives nod to Watts Bar-2 power uprate

October 30, 2020, 9:27AMNuclear News

Watts Bar Unit 2. Photo: TVA

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved a request from the Tennessee Valley Authority to increase the generating capacity of Unit 2 at the Watts Bar nuclear power plant by 1.4 percent, according to an October 27 press release from the agency. TVA submitted its application for the power uprate on October 10, 2019, and the NRC issued the required license amendment on October 21.

The power uprate, which TVA intends to implement by mid-December, will increase Unit 2’s generating capacity from approximately 1,223 MWe to 1,240 MWe.

“The NRC staff determined that TVA could safely increase the reactor’s output, primarily through more accurate means of measuring feedwater flow,” the press release stated, adding, “NRC staff also reviewed the TVA evaluations demonstrating that the plant’s design can safely handle the increased power level.”

SLR application for North Anna units docketed

October 16, 2020, 12:00PMNuclear News

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has accepted for review an application from Dominion Energy to renew for 20 years the previously renewed operating licenses for North Anna-1 and -2, according to a notice published in yesterday’s Federal Register. Dominion submitted the application on August 24.

A version of the 1,899-page subsequent license renewal application without proprietary details is available to the public on the NRC’s website.

Settlement reached over Summer equipment ownership

September 3, 2020, 2:59PMNuclear News

South Carolina’s state-owned utility Santee Cooper and Westinghouse Electric Company have finalized the terms of a settlement for determining ownership of equipment associated with the Summer plant’s abandoned nuclear new-build project. The settlement agreement gives Santee Cooper full ownership of, and the ability to immediately begin marketing, all nonnuclear equipment, the utility announced on August 31.

Input sought on environmental review of Westinghouse fuel plant

August 3, 2020, 9:36AMNuclear News

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is requesting public comment on the scope of the environmental impact statement (EIS) it intends to prepare for Westinghouse Electric Company’s application to renew the operating license for its Columbia Fuel Fabrication Facility (CFFF), according to a notice published in the July 31 Federal Register. Comments must be filed by August 31 and can be submitted by email to WEC_CFFF_EIS.resource@nrc.gov; by regular mail to Office of Administration, Mail Stop: TWFN–7– A60M, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555– 0001; or by visiting the federal rulemaking website and searching for Docket ID NRC-2015-0039.

The CFFF, located in Columbia, S.C., produces fuel assemblies for use in commercial nuclear power reactors.

NRC to prepare EIS for Westinghouse fuel plant

June 8, 2020, 5:27PMNuclear News

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) for Westinghouse Electric Company’s application to renew the operating license of its Columbia Fuel Fabrication Facility (CFFF) in South Carolina, the agency announced in a June 5 press release. The plant produces fuel assemblies for use in commercial nuclear power reactors.

Defense Department invests in three microreactor designs

March 16, 2020, 11:16AMNuclear News

Three reactor developers got a boost on March 9 when they were each awarded a contract from the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to design a reactor that can fit inside a standard shipping container for military deployment. The DOD’s Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO), in partnership with the Department of Energy, proposes to build and demonstrate a 1–10 MWe reactor within four years that, if successful, could be widely deployed to support the DOD’s domestic and operational energy demands.

Fighting for the Next Inch

September 5, 2013, 1:57PMANS Nuclear CafePeter Shaw

I had an interesting conversation with some colleagues last night. We were talking about our jobs, and it turned out that some of them were considering moving on to new prospects outside of the nuclear industry. After digging in to the reasons why, the sentiment seemed to come down to "It feels like we're running as hard as we can only to gain inches every day."

Update and Perspective on Small Modular Reactor Development

March 21, 2013, 6:00AMANS Nuclear CafeJim Hopf

The US Department of Energy has a $452 million program to share development and licensing costs for selected small modular reactor (SMR) designs. The DOE's goal is to have an operating SMR by ~2022. Last November, the DOE awarded the first grant to the B&W mPowerTM reactor. In more recent news, the DOE has decided to issue a follow-on solicitation to enter a similar cost-sharing agreement with one or more other SMR vendors (and their SMR designs). The status of development and licensing for several SMR designs are summarized below.

The Atlantic Generating Station

January 3, 2013, 7:00AMANS Nuclear CafeWill Davis

Recent announcements and news stories about a Russian project to build a floating and essentially portable nuclear power plant have been variously tabbed with the heading "new." The idea of a floating, mobile nuclear plant (which is not self-propelled and not a ship) is indeed not new-the nuclear barge STURGIS, itself a converted Liberty Ship, served as a power source for the Panama Canal for many years, beginning back in 1967. The new Russian plants bring extra excitement because they are classed, properly, in the now-popular small modular reactor plant category, having been based on true seagoing designs. This, of course, hints at the fact that their output will not approach that of any of the large, conventional nuclear plants familiar today.