University of Florida–led consortium to research nuclear forensics

February 2, 2023, 3:00PMNuclear News
Members of the Consortium for Nuclear Forensics. (Image: University of Florida)

A 16-university team of 31 scientists and engineers, under the title Consortium for Nuclear Forensics and led by the University of Florida, has been selected by the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to develop the next generation of new technologies and insights in nuclear forensics.

Bringing 2022 ANS Standards Committee successes into the new year

January 31, 2023, 12:01PMANS NewsPat Schroder

By all accounts, 2022 brought many successes for the American Nuclear Society’s Standards Committee, including the initiation of five projects, reaffirmation of 11 current standards, and publication of seven new or revised standards. The entire collection of ANS current standards has been approved or reaffirmed (reapproved without change) by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) within the past five years, keeping ANS in 100 percent compliance with ANSI’s requirement on maintaining current American National Standards. Also, the ANS standards program was reaccredited by ANSI on August 19, 2022, with the approval of a revised set of rules and procedures. ANS’s new rules and procedures take advantage of the opportunity to develop standards-related technical reports that may be registered with ANSI.

University of Tennessee offers inspiration with inaugural NEDHO Diversity Panel

January 18, 2023, 7:01AMNuclear News
Wes Hines (right), of the University of Tennessee’s Department of Nuclear Engineering, introduces the speakers for a session on nuclear engineering opportunities. (Photos: University of Tennessee)

The University of Tennessee–Knoxville Department of Nuclear Engineering hosted the inaugural Nuclear Engineering Department Heads Organization (NEDHO) Diversity Panel on October 27. Wes Hines, head of the university’s Department of Nuclear Engineering, was the moderator for the event. Invited to the speak were engineering professional Harold T. Conner, environmental scientist Dari Gabriel, and engineering student Jasmine Toy. These three panelists discussed overcoming challenges in their engineering education and/or careers to find success. A common theme that emerged from the conversation was that—in addition to their own determination to succeed—all three panelists benefited from caring adult guidance during their youth, as well as strong support from friends, family, and colleagues as they pursued their goals.

NEDHO's academic program fact sheets

January 9, 2023, 3:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

The Nuclear Engineering Department Heads Organization has made its members' academic fact sheets available for 2022.

Each year, NEDHO's academic institutions share information about their programs through the use of concise summaries that provide a brief overview of each program and include important statistics such as faculty and student numbers, research expenditures, and more.

DOE’s NEUP advances research into the sociotechnical realm

December 21, 2022, 12:01PMNuclear News

For the first time ever, the Department of Energy’s Nuclear Energy University Program (NEUP) is funding research that looks at sociotechnical issues regarding the siting of nuclear power plants and spent nuclear fuel storage facilities. A number of questions at the intersection of social and nuclear concerns are being examined. How does the siting of nuclear power plants affect traditionally disadvantaged communities? How can communities have a greater voice in nuclear facility siting and development decisions? What are the livability needs for small communities experiencing an influx of engineers during the development process? At what points throughout the design and development process should decision makers incorporate social and environmental justice considerations?

DOE awards $800K to ANS, ECA to engage on nuclear energy

December 9, 2022, 7:00AMANS News

The Department of Energy yesterday awarded the American Nuclear Society and Energy Communities Alliance Inc. (ECA) a combined $800,000 to connect with communities across the country and establish education and outreach opportunities in nuclear energy. (A Washington, D.C.–based nonprofit, ECA “brings together local government officials to share information, establish policy positions, and promote community interests to address an increasingly complex set of constituent, environmental, regulatory, and economic development needs,” according to its website.)

NRC awards R&D grants as part of University Nuclear Leadership Program

December 7, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Office of Regulatory Research recently awarded 20 new research and development grants in the University Nuclear Leadership Program (UNLP). The grants, totaling $9,998,188, are derived from the $16 million that Congress appropriated for the program for fiscal year 2022. The 20 selected proposals were among the 89 that were submitted to the NRC and peer-reviewed by the commission staff and experts from academia.

Nuclear Innovation Bootcamp will be in Tokyo in 2023

December 5, 2022, 9:33AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The 2023 Nuclear Innovation Bootcamp (NIB2023) will take place at the Tokyo Institute of Technology from July 29 to August 12, 2023. The event, cohosted by Tokyo Tech’s Nuclear Innovator Cultivation Program and the Washington, D.C.-based Nuclear Innovation Alliance, will offer training for students and early- career professionals in skills essential to innovation in nuclear energy via expert-led sessions, team-building exercises, and a group project design and competition.

Art exhibit visits IIT

November 28, 2022, 3:00PMANS News
A room full of displays at the Art of the Reactor exhibit. (Photo: IIT)

Nuclear power plant cooling towers are easily recognizable for their familiar hyperboloid shape. But an art exhibit running at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago aims to give visitors a different perspective.

The Art of the Reactor, an exhibit by the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History and hosted by IIT’s Lewis College of Science and Letters, opened on November 4 and runs until Sunday, December 4 at Hermann Hall on the IIT campus.

NEXT Lab’s molten salt research reactor inches closer to NRC approval

November 22, 2022, 9:31AMANS Nuclear Cafe
The molten salt test loop at ACU’s NEXT Lab. (Photo: Jeremy Enlow/SteelShutter)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has announced that it will review a construction permit submitted by the Nuclear Energy eXperimental Testing (NEXT) Laboratory at Abilene Christian University for the lab’s planned molten salt research reactor (MSRR). The NRC informed Rusty Towell, director of the NEXT Lab and professor in ACU’s Department of Engineering and Physics, about its acceptance of the construction permit review in a November 18 letter. The NEXT Lab had submitted the construction permit application on August 15; it was the first-ever university application for an advanced research reactor. On October 14, they provided the NRC with additional information about instrumentation and controls. (Nuclear News featured an article about the NEXT Lab and the MSRR in the November issue.)

ANS Nuclear Grand Challenge: Using social media to engage the public

November 16, 2022, 12:01PMNuclear NewsAmelia Tiemann

For decades, the nuclear community has fought to win public trust without a whole lot of success. That’s why, back in 2017, public engagement was announced as one of the nine ANS Nuclear Grand Challenges. The challenge focused on the need to transition from a “deficit model” to an “engagement model” approach with the public. Now a new cohort of advocates is taking nuclear communication in an entirely different direction—to the world of social media—and they are having fun doing it.

Abilene Christian’s NEXT Lab reaches milestone in molten salt reactor research

November 14, 2022, 7:02AMNuclear News
Research engineers take a sample of molten salt for the NEXT Lab. (Photo: Jeremy Enlow/Steelshutter)

The Nuclear Energy eXperimental Testing (NEXT) Laboratory at Abilene Christian University in Texas created quite a bit of buzz within the nuclear community in August when it submitted the first application for a new U.S. research reactor in more than 30 years. The construction permit application submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is for a molten salt research reactor (MSRR)—the first-ever university application for an advanced research reactor. Assuming NRC acceptance of the application, which could happen this year, a formal technical review of the lab’s MSRR plan will then begin, and construction of the MSRR could be completed by 2025. The Abilene campus’s new Science and Engineering Research Center—a 28,000-square-foot multiuse facility for chemistry, physics, and engineering research and education—is expected to be completed by July 2023 and will house the advanced reactor. The final step is to obtain the NRC operating license for the MSRR and commence operation.

USS Rickover crew visits Chicago’s Naval Academy

November 9, 2022, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe
The USS Rickover (SSN 795). (Photo: USS Hyman G. Rickover Commissioning Committee)

NBC Chicago featured a story last week about a visit to the Windy City by the commander and crew of the USS Hyman G. Rickover (SSN-795), the navy’s newest nuclear submarine. The submarine was christened in July 2021 and is currently undergoing trials out of Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Conn., before its expected commissioning in 2023. Reporter Charlie Wojciechowski described the sailors’ meetings with students from Chicago’s Rickover Naval Academy, along with the sailors’ visits to the Museum of Science and Industry and other city landmarks. He also interviewed Commander Matthew H. Beach.

NRC is now on Instagram

November 1, 2022, 9:31AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is increasing its social media presence with its new Instagram page, the agency announced. The "nrcgov” account on the popular site will post photos, short videos, and graphics to add “a more creative approach to information regarding the NRC’s mission, with a focus on the skilled and diverse employees who carry it out.”

American Nuclear Society publishes special issue of Nuclear Science and Engineering on Versatile Test Reactor

October 14, 2022, 2:37PMPress Releases
A rendering of the Versatile Test Reactor site. Image: INL

LA GRANGE PARK, Illinois – Idaho National Laboratory’s crucial Versatile Test Reactor (VTR) project is the focus of a newly released special issue of Nuclear Science and Engineering, the first and oldest peer-reviewed journal in its field. This special issue of the American Nuclear Society’s flagship journal presents a current snapshot of the nuclear innovation project at INL, which is being developed in partnership among six national labs and a host of industry and university partners.

NC State’s PULSTAR reactor wins DOE award to coincide with 50th anniversary

October 14, 2022, 6:55AMNuclear News

NSCU's PULSTAR research reactor. (Photo: NCSU)

The Department of Nuclear Engineering at North Carolina State University marked the 50th anniversary in September of its PULSTAR research reactor, a milestone that was featured in the department’s fall newsletter. The nuclear reactor, located in the Burlington Laboratory on university’s north campus, has been in use since 1972 by research faculty and staff in the University of North Carolina system and other academic institutions, as well as by government agencies and companies in North Carolina and throughout the United States.

One further reason the university is celebrating this year is the infrastructure award that the PULSTAR reactor just received from the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy (NE). This financial award will help “facilitate an upgrade and enhancement to safety, operations, and utilization infrastructure.”

Nuclear Reactor Program: The PULSTAR reactor and its associated instrumentation are administered by NCSU’s Nuclear Reactor Program (NRP), which is a partner of the Nuclear Science User Facilities of Idaho National Laboratory. The NRP’s mission is “to enhance, promote, and utilize the PULSTAR research reactor and associated facilities in an exemplary manner, leading to national recognition as a premier 1-MW Nuclear Reactor Program dedicated to research, teaching, and extension.” The NRP began in 1950 with the construction of the R-1 reactor, the first academic research nuclear reactor in the world. The current director of the program is Ayman Hawari, distinguished professor of nuclear engineering.

“Nuclear bros” take to social media to spread the word

October 10, 2022, 12:01PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Shannon Osaka
(Photo: Neel Dhanesha)

A recent Washington Post article profiles an “increasingly loud Internet subculture”: “nuclear bros.” A network of online pronuclear activists whose nickname is often used derisively, the group consists mostly of men who are primarily driven by their confidence that nuclear energy is the best way to combat the dangers of climate change. This is according to the writer, Shannon Osaka, who calls herself a “climate zeitgeist reporter.”

Left and formerly antinuclear: Osaka writes that the nuclear bros usually exchange ideas and information on shared WhatsApp groups, Reddit (r/nuclear), or Twitter. She provides profiles of a few of these bros and suggests that most are on the political Left and used to be antinuclear, until their fears of climate change pushed them to the pronuclear side.

One such bro, 40-year-old Toronto physician Chris Keefer, says he was formerly “tribally antinuclear” just because “everyone else he knew was opposed to it.” Then, after his son was born in 2018, he became “horrified” by the idea of a “much hotter world” in the future. So, he read up on nuclear energy and concluded that “hydro and nuclear are basically the only two tools that have helped achieve deep decarbonization.” By 2019, Keefer was organizing pronuclear rallies with Canadians for Nuclear Power, a group he cofounded. He also hosts a podcast in which he voices his support for nuclear power.

Freakonomics podcast focuses on nuclear energy and climate change

October 10, 2022, 7:01AMANS Nuclear Cafe

On a recent Freakonomics Radio podcast, host Stephen J. Dubner and his guests explored the topic of nuclear power. The episode, “Nuclear Power Isn’t Perfect. Is It Good Enough?” was teased on the podcast website with this thought: “Liberals endorse harm reduction when it comes to the opioid epidemic. Are they ready to take the same approach to climate change?”

DOE renews Portsmouth grant to Ohio University

October 7, 2022, 7:03AMANS Nuclear Cafe
The Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management has renewed a $2.5 million grant to Ohio University to support community redevelopment around the DOE’s Portsmouth Site. Since 2016, the DOE has provided a total of $8.2 million to the university for work with the communities.

The DOE grant, which began on October 1, will be administered over five years through September 30, 2027. A previous grant expired on September 30.

Nuclear Science Week events to be held in October

October 5, 2022, 3:01PMANS News

Nuclear Science Week (NSW) is just around the corner, to be held October 17-21. First recognized in 2009, it has been celebrated during the third week of October every year since 2012. Organized by the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History, NSW is an annual opportunity to celebrate nuclear science; recognize the professionals who apply it to solving the world’s most pressing problems; encourage nuclear professional development and networking; and share information with students, educators, and community members about the vital role of nuclear science in the lives of all people.