Nuclear News on the Newswire

DOE moves to strengthen domestic supply chain of critical minerals

The Department of Energy has issued new guidance for applicants to its Loan Programs Office (LPO), stating a preference for projects related to critical minerals.

The guidance, a notice for which was published in the December 1 Federal Register, aims to boost the domestic supply chain of critical minerals in support of two of President Trump’s executive orders: the September 2020 order regarding the nation’s reliance on foreign sources for critical minerals, and the December 2017 order regarding the implementation of a federal strategy to ensure a domestic supply of those minerals.

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DOE funding available for research on high-energy-density plasmas

Photo: Energy.gov

A plan to provide up to $9 million for work related to high-energy-density laboratory plasmas (HEDLP) was announced jointly on December 2 by the Department of Energy’s Office of Science and the DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).

A funding opportunity announcement, “High-Energy-Density Laboratory Plasma Science,” is available on the federal grants website.

Applications are open to domestic universities, industry, and nonprofit research institutions and are due by February 18, 2021. Funding will be awarded based on a competitive peer review.

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GE Hitachi SMR reaches U.S. licensing milestone

A cutaway view of the BWRX-300. Image: GE Hitachi Nuclear

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued a final safety evaluation report for the first of several licensing topical reports (LTR) submitted by GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) for the BWRX-300 small modular reactor, the company announced on December 1.

The initial LTR, titled “BWRX-300 Reactor Pressure Vessel Isolation and Overpressure Protection,” was submitted to the NRC in December 2019, officially beginning the U.S. licensing process. This LTR forms the basis for the “dramatic simplification” of the BWRX-300, according to GEH.

In its announcement, GEH noted that two additional LTRs were submitted in early 2020 and that it anticipates reviews of those reports to be completed in the coming months. A fourth LTR was submitted in September 2020, the company added.

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First Hualong One reactor connected to grid

China’s Fuqing nuclear plant. Photo: CNNC

Unit 5 at China National Nuclear Corporation’s (CNNC) Fuqing nuclear plant in southeastern China’s Fujian Province has become the world’s first Hualong One reactor to be connected to the power grid, the company announced on November 27. “It was confirmed on-site that all technical indicators of the unit met the design requirements and that the unit was in good condition,” CNNC said.

Fuel loading at Fuqing-5 began on September 4, following the issuance of the reactor’s operating license by China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment. The loading of 177 sets of fuel assemblies was completed on September 10, and initial criticality was achieved on October 21. The unit is scheduled to enter commercial operation before the end of the year.

Also known as the HPR1000, the Hualong One is a Chinese-designed and -developed 1,000-MWe Generation III pressurized water reactor, incorporating design elements of CNNC’s ACP1000 and China General Nuclear’s ACPR1000+ reactors. Fuqing-5’s twin HPR1000, Fuqing-6, is scheduled to start contributing power to the grid next year.

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Nuclear scores point in U.K. green plan

The United Kingdom, the first of the world’s major economies to adopt a legally binding commitment to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, has released a blueprint to help realize that goal—one that includes a substantial role for nuclear energy

The Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution will mobilize a total of £12 billion (about $16 billion) of government investment to create and support up to 250,000 highly skilled green jobs in the United Kingdom and spur over three times as much private sector investment by 2030, according to the UK government on November 18.

In addition to nuclear, offshore wind, hydrogen production, carbon capture, and vehicle electrification are also earmarked for significant investment in the 38-page document.

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EPA issues permits for Dewey Burdock project

The Dewey Burdock project area, near Edgemont, S.D., in 2014. Photo: Azarga Uranium

The Environmental Protection Agency has issued its final permits for Canada-based Azarga Uranium’s underground injection control (UIC) activities at the Dewey Burdock in situ recovery (ISR) uranium project in South Dakota, the company announced recently.

The EPA’s action includes two permits: a UIC Class III Area Permit for the ISR of uranium and a UIC Class V Area Permit for deep injection wells that will be used to dispose of ISR-process waste fluids after they have been treated to meet radioactive waste and hazardous waste standards.

The EPA is also finalizing an aquifer exemption approval in connection with the Class III permit to allow for resource recovery in the uranium-bearing portions of the Inyan Kara group of aquifers.

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Hinkley Point B to be retired earlier than planned

Hinkley Point B, in Somerset, England. Photo: EDF Energy

EDF Energy has made a “proactive decision” to move Britain’s Hinkley Point B power station into its defueling phase no later than July 15, 2022—some eight months earlier than previously scheduled—the company announced on November 19.

The two-unit plant, located in Somerset, England, began generating electricity in 1976 and has since produced more than 300 TWh of power, enough to meet the electricity requirements of every home in the United Kingdom for three years, according to EDF.

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NuScale unveils Energy Exploration Center at Oregon State

NuScale Energy Exploration Center at Oregon State University. Photo: Business Wire

Small modular reactor developer NuScale Power has announced the opening of the NuScale Energy Exploration (E2) Center at Oregon State University (OSU).

The E2 Center is designed to offer users a hands-on learning opportunity to apply nuclear science and engineering principles through simulated, real-world nuclear power plant operation scenarios, according to NuScale on November 17. The center employs state-of-the-art computer modeling within a simulator of the NuScale SMR power plant control room, allowing users to take on the role of control room operator at a 12-unit NuScale SMR plant to learn about the features and functionality unique to the company’s SMR technology.

More to come: The E2 Center at OSU is the first of three planned installations of a NuScale power plant control room simulator at U.S. universities. Support for the centers was provided by a grant in 2019 from the Department of Energy. Additional information on the E2 Center is available here.

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A day in the life of the nuclear community

The November issue of Nuclear News is focused on the individuals who make up our nuclear community.

We invited a small group of those individuals to tell us about their day-to-day work in some of the many occupations and applications of nuclear science and technology, and they responded generously. They were ready to tell us about the part they play, together with colleagues and team members, in supplying clean energy, advancing technology, protecting safety and health, and exploring fundamental science.

In these pages, we see a community that can celebrate both those workdays that record progress moving at a steady pace and the exceptional days when a goal is reached, a briefing is delivered, a contract goes through, a discovery is made, or an unforeseen challenge is overcome.

The Nuclear News staff hopes that you enjoy meeting these members of our community—or maybe get reacquainted with friends—through their words and photos.

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