Research & Applications

Bruce Power announces milestone in medical Lu-177 production

June 24, 2022, 12:01PMNuclear News
The new IPS installed in Bruce Power’s Unit 7 will produce Lu-177 for treating cancer. (Photo: Bruce Power)

An international collaboration between Bruce Power, Isogen (a joint venture of Kinectrics and Framatome), and ITM Isotope Technologies Munich SE, announced a milestone marking the first time that lutetium-177, a short-lived medical radioisotope, has been produced in a commercial nuclear power reactor.

Orano, TerraPower get vouchers to study LEU+ transport and chlorine chemistry

June 23, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News
A rendering of the MCRE. (Image: Southern Company)

The Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) awarded vouchers to Orano Federal Services and TerraPower on June 22, giving them access to specialized facilities and expertise at Department of Energy national laboratories. Orano is partnering with Oak Ridge National Laboratory on a new technical study that updates the physical chemistry limits for the safe transport of uranium hexafluoride (UF6) gas enriched up to 10 percent in existing shipping containers, and TerraPower is turning to Los Alamos National Laboratory’s neutron testing capabilities to measure the properties of chlorine isotopes and determine how they will behave in the Molten Chloride Reactor Experiment (MCRE).

U.K. fusion energy projects get regulatory clarity to speed deployment

June 23, 2022, 7:01AMNuclear News
The Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP), shown here, is a government-backed prototype fusion energy plant planned for operation in the U.K. in the early 2040s. (Image: UKAEA)

Future fusion energy facilities will continue to be regulated by the Environment Agency (EA) and Health & Safety Executive (HSE), the U.K. government announced June 20, and existing law on nuclear regulations will be amended to exclude fusion energy facilities from nuclear fission regulatory and licensing requirements. The move was announced by the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) with the expectation it would provide “clarity to developers of prototype/demonstration fusion facilities currently being planned to support rapid commercialization.”

Nuclear power’s moonshot: Three teams have one year to design a lunar power reactor

June 22, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
A conceptual illustration of a fission surface power system. (Image: NASA)

Three teams have been picked to design a fission surface power system that NASA could deploy on the moon by the end of the decade, NASA and Idaho National Laboratory announced today. A fission surface power project sponsored by NASA in collaboration with the Department of Energy and INL is targeting the demonstration of a 40-kWe reactor built to operate for at least 10 years on the moon, enabling lunar exploration under NASA’s Artemis program. Twelve-month contracts valued at $5 million each are going to Lockheed Martin (partnered with BWX Technologies and Creare), Westinghouse (partnered with Aerojet Rocketdyne), and IX (a joint venture of Intuitive Machines and X-energy, partnered with Maxar and Boeing).

The ATR will test thorium-HALEU fuel pellets: What’s involved?

June 21, 2022, 7:00AMNuclear News
(Photo: Clean Core Thorium Energy)

The Advanced Test Reactor (ATR) at Idaho National Laboratory will soon be irradiating fuel pellets containing thorium and high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) developed by Clean Core Thorium Energy for use in pressurized heavy water reactors (PHWRs). Clean Core announced on June 14 that it will proceed with irradiation testing and qualification under an agreement with the Department of Energy; the plans have been in the works since at least 2020, when the DOE filed a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) disclosure for the work.

China’s prototype technology described as step toward energy independence

June 20, 2022, 9:27AMANS Nuclear Cafe
Roadmap for the China Initiative Accelerator-Driven System project development. (Image: Zhijun Wang/CAS)

Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Modern Physics are making strides with their China Initiative Accelerator-Driven System (CiADS) technology, which is being developed to get more life out of used nuclear fuel. Defense One, an online news source that focuses on “the future of U.S. defense and national security,” describes the prototype system as a step in moving China toward energy independence and advancing that nation’s “global leadership in climate-friendly technology.”

French ambassador visits General Atomics to talk ITER and more

June 20, 2022, 7:03AMNuclear News
Ambassador Philippe Étienne (sixth from left) and staff from the Consulate General of France with senior leaders from General Atomics at the GA Magnet Technologies Center in Los Angeles. In the background are two partially completed ITER central solenoid modules. (Photo: GA)

General Atomics’ Magnet Technologies Center in Poway, Calif., played host last week to French ambassador Philippe Étienne, the company announced June 16. During the visit, which was hosted by Vivek Lall, chief executive of the General Atomics Global Corporation, Étienne viewed ITER central solenoid modules—all destined for shipment to France—in several stages of the fabrication process.

“General Atomics and French organizations have a strong relationship in both the defense and energy sectors, as well as in the unmanned field, that meet both France’s and the United States’ important interests,” Étienne remarked during his visit.

Terrestrial Energy thinks its molten salt reactor may have a future in ammonia

June 13, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News
A cutaway of the Integral Molten Salt Reactor and balance of plant. (Image: Terrestrial Energy)

Ammonia is a carbon-free energy carrier that could be produced using thermal energy from nuclear power plants. Terrestrial Energy announced June 9 that it has signed an agreement with engineering firm KBR to explore the use of its Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) for both hydrogen and ammonia production.

Zoonotic disease experts agree to use nuclear science against monkeypox, Lassa fever

June 13, 2022, 7:01AMNuclear News
IAEA director general Rafael Mariano Grossi addresses workshop attendees. (Photo: IAEA)

The International Atomic Energy Agency convened a workshop last week to explore how nuclear techniques backed by the IAEA’s Zoonotic Disease Integrated Action (ZODIAC) initiative could be used to avoid outbreaks of monkeypox and Lassa fever. The meeting, held in Vienna, Austria, on the sidelines of the IAEA Board of Governors meeting, was organized to assist countries in using nuclear and related techniques to detect, mitigate, and understand the behavior of the viruses.

“It is important that we are reacting quickly, as things happen. I am happy that concrete work is being carried out on something before it becomes a very difficult problem,” said IAEA director general Rafael Mariano Grossi as he opened the one-day summit.

Using the “New math”: Artificial intelligence and machine learning applications for the nuclear power industry

June 10, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear NewsCurtis Smith, Ahmad Al Rashdan, and Vivek Agarwal

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are helping scientists, engineers, regulators, and plant decision makers in their research and development of clean energy production to achieve a net-zero carbon footprint. While this science is new in terms of actual applications, it is fostering innovation in a variety of domains, from material discovery and qualification to advanced reactor design to supporting efficiencies in current power plants and transforming the usability of nuclear power plant control rooms.

Clean hydrogen energy from nuclear power is having a good week

June 8, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News
A depiction of an electrolyzer from Bloom Energy. (Photo: Bloom Energy)

Using nuclear power technology to produce clean hydrogen is getting a visibility boost as the Department of Energy hosts a virtual three-day (June 6–8) Annual Merit Review and Peer Evaluation Meeting on the agency’s efforts to accelerate clean hydrogen production. On June 6, the DOE announced a notice of intent (NOI) to fund the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s $8 billion program to develop regional clean hydrogen hubs (H2Hubs) and the launch of a new Hydrogen Shot Incubator Prize that seeks “disruptive technologies” to reduce the cost of clean hydrogen production. That same day, Westinghouse Electric Company and Bloom Energy Corp. (a maker of solid oxide electrolyzer technology) announced a letter of intent to develop electrolyzers for use in the commercial nuclear power market and said they are “well positioned to support the U.S. Department of Energy’s developing hydrogen hubs.”

EPFL researchers update fusion’s “Greenwald limit”

June 7, 2022, 3:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

A newly released study led by physicist Paolo Ricci has revised a fundamental, foundational law of plasma generation and nuclear fusion by showing that more hydrogen fuel can safely be used in fusion reactors, thereby generating more energy than previously thought possible. Ricci, of the Swiss Plasma Center at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), explains that his team’s results indicate that tokamaks, such as the international collaborative project ITER, could use almost twice the amount of hydrogen fuel in their plasmas without the danger of disruption, or loss of confinement of the plasma.

The research team’s findings amend one of the long-time limitations (the so-called Greenwald limit) in generating and sustaining the high-temperature plasma needed to produce fusion energy.

Webinar: International isotope supply chain needs coordination, not complacency

June 1, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

Accelerators and other new facilities are producing an increasing share of the radioisotopes that were once sourced solely from a handful of research reactors around the globe; demand for alpha-emitters is increasing; and the need for an ensured supply of both radioactive and stable isotopes is now heightened as many countries seek an alternative to Russian isotopes. Those are just a few of the key points that emerged from a recent webinar, “Demand and Supply of Isotopes Around the World: From Diverse Perspectives,” organized by the World Council of Isotopes, along with the Sylvia Fedoruk Canadian Centre for Nuclear Innovation and the University of Saskatchewan, the hosts of the upcoming 11th International Conference on Isotopes (11ICI).

INL reactor deployments could be replicated under Net Zero Labs initiative

May 31, 2022, 7:14AMNuclear News

Four national laboratories have been chosen by the Department of Energy to receive a combined $38 million to launch the Net Zero Labs Pilot Initiative: Idaho National Laboratory, National Energy Technology Laboratory, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The pilot program is planned as “a foundation of net-zero solutions that can be replicated at facilities across DOE, the federal government, and state and local governments” in support of the administration’s goal of reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions no later than 2050, according to the DOE. Additional funding is expected to be available to all 17 national laboratories on a competitive basis next year.

Finding fusion’s place

May 27, 2022, 4:38PMNuclear NewsBart Gordon, Tim Peckinpaugh, Mike O’Neill, and Molly Barker
Artist’s rendering of the U.K.'s STEP fusion reactor. (Image: U.K. Atomic Energy Authority)

Fusion energy is attracting significant interest from governments and private capital markets. The deployment of fusion energy on a timeline that will affect climate change and offer another tool for energy security will require support from stakeholders, regulators, and policymakers around the world. Without broad support, fusion may fail to reach its potential as a “game-­changing” technology to make a meaningful difference in addressing the twin challenges of climate change and geopolitical energy security.

The process of developing the necessary policy and regulatory support is already underway around the world. Leaders in the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, China, and elsewhere are engaging with the key issues and will lead the way in setting the foundation for a global fusion industry.

McMaster University may host the second USNC microreactor in Canada

May 24, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
McMaster University, in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. (Photo: McMaster University)

McMaster University, Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC), and Global First Power (GFP) have embarked on a new partnership to study the feasibility of deploying a USNC Micro Modular Reactor (MMR) at McMaster University or an affiliated site. The three partners last week announced a memorandum of understanding that will support research on advanced reactor and small modular reactor technologies in support of Canada’s Net-Zero Emissions by 2050 goal.

Penn State wants a Westinghouse eVinci microreactor on campus

May 19, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News
Representatives from Westinghouse and Penn State met at Westinghouse headquarters to sign a memorandum of understanding and enter a partnership focused on researching and developing microreactors. From left: Jason Beebe, director of the global transformation office at Westinghouse; Michael Valore, senior director of advance reactor commercialization, Westinghouse; Mike Shaqqo, senior vice president of advanced reactors, Westinghouse; Lora Weiss, senior vice president for research at Penn State; Jean Paul Allain, head of the Ken and Mary Alice Lindquist Department of Nuclear Engineering at Penn State; Geanie Umberger, associate vice president for research and director of industry research collaborations at Penn State; Saya Lee, assistant professor of nuclear engineering; Elia Merzari (back), associate professor of nuclear engineering; and Hilary Ruby, director of transformation for the Americas Operating Plant Services Business Unit at Westinghouse. (Photo: Westinghouse)

Penn State University has announced plans to explore siting a Westinghouse Electric Company eVinci microreactor on its State College campus in central Pennsylvania. Under a memorandum of understanding to perform research and development work that could advance the future commercial deployment of eVinci, a team of researchers in Penn State’s Ken and Mary Alice Lindquist Department of Nuclear Engineering also plans to explore how eVinci could displace some fossil-fueled energy sources on campus.

Defense agency invests in fusion- and radioisotope-powered space propulsion

May 19, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
Artist’s rendering of USNC spacecraft using EmberCore. (Image: DIU)

The Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), a Department of Defense organization focused on swiftly putting commercial technology to use in the U.S. military, has awarded contracts for two nuclear technologies—compact fusion and radioisotope heat—for spacecraft that could carry a high-power payload and freely maneuver in cislunar space. The objective is to accelerate ground and flight testing and launch a successful orbital prototype demonstration of each approach in 2027.

DOE releases Final EIS for one-of-a-kind Versatile Test Reactor

May 17, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News
Conceptual site layout for the VTR, as shown in the Final EIS. (Image: DOE-NE)

The Versatile Test Reactor, a custom-designed sodium-cooled fast neutron spectrum test reactor, is one step closer to its goal of providing data to accelerate research, development, and demonstration of diverse advanced reactor designs. The Department of Energy released the Final Versatile Test Reactor Environmental Impact Statement (Final VTR EIS) on May 13, and 30 days after its anticipated May 20 publication in the Federal Register, the DOE will issue a Record of Decision on the project.

MIT and Commonwealth Fusion Systems agree to five-year SPARC collaboration

May 16, 2022, 7:01AMNuclear News
PSFC director Dennis Whyte (left) and CFS chief executive officer Bob Mumgaard in the test hall at MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center. (Photo: Gretchen Ertl, CFS/MIT-PSFC)

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC) recently announced it will expand its involvement in fusion energy research and education under a new five-year agreement with Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS), a fusion energy company that got its start at MIT and is now building what it says will be the world’s first net-energy fusion machine—the demo-scale SPARC.

“CFS will build SPARC and develop a commercial fusion product, while MIT PSFC will focus on its core mission of cutting-edge research and education,” said PSFC director Dennis Whyte in describing the collaboration.