Nuclear News on the Newswire

The enduring legacy of ACRS: Reviewing safety-licensing to protect the public

The 1957 amendment to the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 established the Advisory Committee On Reactor Safeguards as a statutory committee with an independent advisory role and the responsibility to “review safety studies and facility license applications” and advise the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission “with regard to the hazards of proposed or existing reactor facilities and the adequacy of reactor safety standards.” With the enactment of the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974, the ACRS was assigned to the newly established Nuclear Regulatory Commission with its statutory requirements intact.

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A review of workforce trends in the nuclear community

The nuclear community is undergoing a moment of unprecedented interest and growth not seen in decades. The passage of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act are providing a multitude of new funding opportunities for the nuclear community, and not just the current fleet. A mix of technologies and reactor types are being evaluated and deployed, with Vogtle Units 3 and 4 coming on line later this year, the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Projects of X-energy and TerraPower, and NuScale’s work with Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems to build a first-of-a-kind small modular reactor, making this is an exciting time to join the nuclear workforce.

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The need for sustainable nuclear/alpha skills in the U.K.: A Sellafield perspective

The United Kingdom’s nuclear renaissance

The United Kingdom’s nuclear industry is expanding, with the U.K. government committed to supporting the build of more civil nuclear power plants (deployments up to 24 GW by 2050)1 while also undertaking large-scale decommissioning work in parallel.2 The defense sector is experiencing growth with the decommissioning, operation, and new build of submarines, plus managing the U.K.’s deterrent.3 Although the civil and defense programs are separate, they draw on the same group of skills and people.

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How can SMRs fit energy and climate priorities for industry?

Edward Stones

At my company, Dow, we understand and embrace our responsibility to reduce global carbon emissions. With that said, the challenge to decarbonize is significant but achievable. To give you a sense of the scale required for us to decarbonize in order to make our products, we produce more than 7 GW of power and steam that fire more than 50 gas and steam turbines and boilers. Moreover, we have more than 100 furnaces at 30 major manufacturing sites worldwide.

Dow has already reduced our greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent since 2005, and we are on track to reduce emissions another 15 percent by the end of the decade on our path to carbon neutrality by 2050. Our use of clean energy has contributed significantly to our current progress, as we are one of the top 20 users of renewable energy among global corporations, having secured more than 900 MW of renewable power. While we will continue to pursue renewable energy, there’s a limitation in the ability for renewables to support our decarbonization efforts.

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The legacy of Experimental Breeder Reactor-I

At 1:23 p.m. load dissipaters from the generator were connected—electricity flows from atomic energy.” These were the words Walter Zinn wrote in the log after the first four light bulbs were illuminated by nuclear energy. The year was 1951, and the EBR-­I was about to show the world what nuclear energy had to offer.

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Framatome, Ultra Safe partner to manufacture TRISO and FCM fuel

Framatome and Ultra Safe Nuclear announced on January 26 that they intend to form a joint venture to manufacture commercial quantities of tristructural isotropic (TRISO) particles and Ultra Safe’s proprietary fully ceramic microencapsulated (FCM) fuel.

The companies have signed a nonbinding agreement to integrate their resources to bring commercially viable, fourth-generation nuclear fuel to market for Ultra Safe’s micro-modular reactor (MMR) and other advanced reactor designs.

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Nuclear energy: enabling production of food, fiber, hydrocarbon biofuels, and negative carbon emissions

In the 1960s, Alvin Weinberg at Oak Ridge National Laboratory initiated a series of studies on nuclear agro-­industrial complexes1 to address the needs of the world’s growing population. Agriculture was a central component of these studies, as it must be. Much of the emphasis was on desalination of seawater to provide fresh water for irrigation of crops. Remarkable advances have lowered the cost of desalination to make that option viable in countries like Israel. Later studies2 asked the question, are there sufficient minerals (potassium, phosphorous, copper, nickel, etc.) to enable a prosperous global society assuming sufficient nuclear energy? The answer was a qualified “yes,” with the caveat that mineral resources will limit some technological options. These studies were defined by the characteristic of looking across agricultural and industrial sectors to address multiple challenges using nuclear energy.

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Contract for Darlington SMR project signed

Wilmington, N.C.–based GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy and Canadian firms Ontario Power Generation, SNC-Lavalin, and Aecon announced this morning the signing of a contract for the deployment of a BWRX-300 small modular reactor at OPG’s Darlington nuclear site in Canada. According to the announcement, it is the first commercial contract for a grid-scale SMR in North America.

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First Light Fusion wants to operate a net gain inertial fusion machine in 2027

Ignition and net gain at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s National Ignition Facility (NIF) in December 2022 focused global attention on the prospects of inertial fusion energy (IFE). First Light Fusion and the U.K. Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) acknowledged the achievement as they announced plans on January 25 to design and build a demonstration facility known as Machine 4 at UKAEA’s Culham Campus in Oxford, U.K., using First Light’s “projectile approach” to IFE. Construction is expected to begin in 2024, and operations are “likely to commence” in 2027.

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