Nuclear News on the Newswire

NEA issues call to action in report on nuclear cost reductions

A new report from the Paris-based OECD Nuclear Energy Agency declares that nuclear power is needed for countries to meet their Paris Agreement decarbonization and energy security policy goals, but that governmental support for a rapid reduction in the cost of new nuclear capacity through the creation of certain policy frameworks is likely necessary.

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The CORTEX project: Improving nuclear fleet operational availability

We often define noise as an unwanted disturbance, especially acoustic in nature. Neutron noise, by contrast, is a direct measure of the dynamics of a nuclear core. It can be used for core monitoring without disturbing plant operation and by using the existing core instrumentation. The European CORTEX project aims to develop an innovative core monitoring technique using neutron noise, while capitalizing on the latest developments in neutronic modeling, signal processing, and artificial intelligence.

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Digital engineering: Controlling costs for megaprojects

With a new generation of nuclear reactors in the works, Idaho National Laboratory has embraced digital engineering (DE) as a means of achieving the same efficiencies that companies in the private sector have been able to realize in everything from concert halls to aircraft engines.

DE—using advanced technologies to capture data and craft design in a digitized environment—has been evolving since the 1990s. For Mortenson Construction, a worldwide construction firm, using virtual design and construction resulted in a cumulative 600 days saved over 416 projects and a 25 percent increase in productivity. By building digital twins for assets, systems, and processes, DE has avoided more than $1.05 billion in customer, production, and mechanical losses.

Leaders at INL recognized in 2018 that DE could be useful in the design and construction of new commercial and test reactors. Managing construction costs, timing, and performance will be essential to maintain U.S. competitiveness.

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Dems’ climate action plan makes room for nuclear

House Democrats on June 30 rolled out a vision of what U.S. climate change policy might look like in the event the Democratic party holds its current House majority, retakes the Senate, and wins the White House in November. The vision was presented in the form of a sweeping 547-page majority staff report entitled Solving the Climate Crisis: The Congressional Action Plan for a Clean Energy Economy and a Healthy, Resilient, and Just America.

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France’s Fessenheim-2 closes permanently

Fessenheim nuclear power plant. Photo: EDF

After producing electricity generation for more than 40 years, Fessenheim-2 was disconnected from the grid on June 29, some four months after the retirement of its companion reactor, Fessenheim-1 (NN, Mar. 2020, p. 83). The action completes the closure of what had been France’s oldest operating nuclear power facility.

Both Fessenheim units are 880-MWe pressurized water reactors; Unit 1 began commercial operation in December 1977, with Unit 2 going on line in March 1978.

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IAEA teams with Japanese university on boron neutron capture therapy R&D

The accelerator-based BNCT system under construction at Nagoya University, shows the electrostatic proton accelerator (on the left) and beam transport line toward the neutron production target (on the right). Photo: Nagoya University

The International Atomic Energy Agency has signed an agreement with Japan’s Okayama University that provides a three-year framework for enhanced cooperation in boron neutron capture therapy (BNCT), the IAEA announced on June 24. BNCT is a noninvasive therapeutic technique for treating invasive malignant tumors.

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Nuclear power stats for 2019 now available

The International Atomic Energy Agency has released nuclear power status data for 2019 collected by the Power Reactor Information System (PRIS), the IAEA’s comprehensive nuclear power database. Developed and maintained by the IAEA for more than five decades, PRIS contains historical and current quantitative information on reactors in operation and under construction, as well as on units undergoing decommissioning.

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Summary of 19th WNA fuel report released

Now available from the World Nuclear Association is an expanded summary of its latest Nuclear Fuel Report, published last September. According to the WNA, “This expanded summary will provide readers with explanations of what factors are affecting the growth of nuclear power, what new concepts were introduced in the 19th edition, and what developments the industry may require between now and 2040.”

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