Nuclear News on the Newswire

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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A fateful day for nuclear waste policy: January 31, 1998

Next week will mark 25 years since January 31, 1998, a familiar date to most in the nuclear community, and revisited in today’s #ThrowbackThursday post with an article from the March 1998 issue of Nuclear News. “Those in the nuclear power industry are aware of the significance of the date January 31, 1998. ln the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982, that date was set as the deadline for the U.S. government—more specifically, the Department of Energy—to begin taking possession of and responsibility for spent nuclear fuel from nuclear power plants nationwide” (NN, March 1998, p. 59).

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NRC announces setback to Diablo Canyon license renewal

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced January 24 that it will not resume its review of Pacific Gas & Electric’s withdrawn Diablo Canyon license renewal application. This decision is a new setback in the long-running effort to extend the life of the plant.

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Reflections on a year in D.C.

Matt Marzano
2022 ANS Congressional Fellow

Each year, the American Nuclear Society Congressional Fellow enters the halls of the Congress bringing with him or her a unique background and perspective, but also a common interest in shaping policy by drawing on his or her expertise to inform decision makers. For me, crossing that threshold had to wait, as I started my fellowship term amidst a surge in the pandemic. Awaiting the return to in-­person work and drinking from the proverbial firehose in this new role, I quickly realized that effective congressional staffers are those who are able to communicate accurately and concisely, adeptly navigate complex policy issues, and exhibit selflessness and dedication in service of their members’ priorities. As part of the clean air, climate, and energy team for the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works, chaired by Sen. Tom Carper (D., Del.), I was fortunate to be surrounded by staffers who demonstrated these qualities and helped smooth a steep learning curve.

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