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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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White paper shines light on significance of irradiation

With input from the American Nuclear Society and other organizations, the International Irradiation Association has published a white paper summarizing all of the significant uses of radiation processing and the global economic, social, and environmental benefits that arise from the technologies. The nontechnical document, Uses and Applications of Radiation Processing, is aimed at people and organizations that are not familiar with radiation processing, highlighting how irradiation is routinely used in an array of diverse and beneficial applications.

“Though largely unknown by the public, radiation processing, or ‘irradiation,’ touches everyone’s life,” states the paper, which was released on November 24.

The 11-page white paper goes on to summarize the applications of radiation processing, including medical sterilization, food irradiation, wastewater treatment, and other uses. An overview of the different technologies used to irradiate materials, including gamma, electron beam, and X-ray sources, is also provided.

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NUREG published on high-burnup spent fuel storage and transportation

A final report on the dry storage and transportation of high-burnup spent nuclear fuel (NUREG-2224) has been issued by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. NUREG-2224 provides a technical basis in support of the NRC’s guidance on adequate fuel conditions as it pertains to hydride reorientation in the cladding of high-burnup spent fuel (over 45 gigawatt-day per metric ton uranium).

NUREG-2224, “Dry Storage and Transportation of High Burnup Spent Nuclear Fuel,” was made publicly available on November 23 on the NRC’s ADAMS website with Accession No. ML20191A321.

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OPG resumes planning for new nuclear at Darlington

Darlington nuclear power plant. Photo: OPG

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) recently announced the resumption of planning activities for future nuclear power generation at its Darlington site, with a goal of hosting a grid-size small modular reactor as soon as 2028. Originally, plans for the Darlington new nuclear project were focused on the construction of traditional large reactors.

Located in Clarington, Ontario, Darlington is the only site in Canada currently licensed for new nuclear. OPG was granted a license from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) in 2012 to allow site preparation activities for the project. The company has applied to renew the license, which is set to expire in August 2022. The CNSC will hold a public hearing on June 9–10, 2021, to consider the license renewal.

Early last month, OPG announced that it was working with three grid-scale SMR technology developers—GE Hitachi, Terrestrial Energy, and X-energy—to advance engineering and design work, with the goal of identifying options for future deployment.

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Senate bill introduced to reestablish U.S. leadership in nuclear energy

Barrasso

Whitehouse

The American Nuclear Infrastructure Act (ANIA), S. 4897, released as draft legislation in July and supported by a panel of energy experts at a Senate hearing in August, has been introduced in the Senate.

The bipartisan bill—sponsored by Sen. John Barrasso (R., Wyo.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), and cosponsored by Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.), Mike Crapo (R., Idaho), and Cory Booker (D., N.J.)—was introduced on November 16.

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Second license renewal sought for Wisconsin plant

Point Beach nuclear plant. Photo: NRC

NextEra Energy submitted a license renewal (SLR) application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission seeking to add 20 years to the licenses of the two units at the Point Beach plant. The plant is located on the shore of Lake Michigan, in Two Rivers, Wis.

The application, submitted November 16, is the first SLR application for a Midwestern nuclear plant, according to NRC spokeswoman Viktoria Mitlyng.

Point Beach’s initial license renewal was issued in 2005.

For more on the story, see this Wisconsin State Journal report.

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New research planned for high-energy physics

The DOE is expected to fund high-energy physics research at its Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, shown in this rendering. Image: Fermilab

The Department of Energy plans to provide $100 million over the next four years for new research in high-energy physics. The research is expected to focus on topics such as the Higgs boson, neutrinos, dark matter, and dark energy in an effort to advance understanding of the universe at the most fundamental level. The Office of High Energy Physics (HEP) within the DOE’s Office of Science is sponsoring the research funding opportunity.

The DOE’s funding opportunity announcement, “FY 2021 Research Opportunities in High Energy Physics,” can be found on the HEP funding opportunities page.

High-energy physics serves as a cornerstone of America’s science efforts, the DOE said on November 17, adding that it plays a major role in nurturing top scientific talent and building and sustaining the nation’s scientific workforce. Applications will be open to universities, industry, and nonprofit institutions, with awards selected by competitive peer review and contingent on congressional appropriations.

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2020 ANS Virtual Winter Meeting: More on advanced nuclear reactors and power systems

The third part of the“Advanced Nuclear Reactors and Power Systems” sessions during the 2020 ANS Virtual Winter Meeting featured an examination of the status of various advanced reactors. The sessions were sponsored by the Operations and Power Division and chaired by Piyush Sabharwall of Idaho National Laboratory.

Here is an article on the first "Advanced Nuclear Reactors and Power Systems” session.

Presentation topics in the third and final session included using Modelica for system-level modeling and simulation of advanced reactors; the testing of fast-spectrum reactors’ gears and bearings in liquid sodium; and the creation of a simple core analysis tool called the Thermal hydrAulic COre Calculations using the single heAted channel meThod (TACOCAT) code.

Here are some of the highlights:

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Robotics for Plant Maintenance: Now and in the Future

Diakont technicians prepare an NDE inspection robot for deployment into a diesel tank. Photos: Diakont

Robotics and remote systems have been used for supporting nuclear facilities since the dawn of the atomic age. Early commercial nuclear plants implemented varying levels of automation and remote operation, such as maintenance activities performed on the reactor pressure vessel and steam generators. Over the past several decades, there has been a steady progression toward incorporating more advanced remote operations into nuclear plants to improve their efficiency and safety. One of the primary forces driving the adoption of robotic tooling in U.S. nuclear power plants is money.

The economic model for the U.S. operating fleet has changed considerably over the past 10 to 12 years. Regulations in the nuclear industry have rarely decreased and, more often than not, have increased. This has led to nuclear plants in certain energy markets being hindered financially and thus needing to find ways to optimize their operations to do more with the resources they have. At the same time, the reliability and flexibility of robotics and automated systems have been increasing while their costs have been decreasing, making robotic systems much safer and more available to use. This has helped drive utilities to explore new ways of using robotics to overcome the obstacles they are facing. One of the obstacles that power plants have been tackling has been shortening the duration of their refueling outages to decrease their costs and increase their revenue.

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2020 ANS Virtual Winter Meeting: Advanced nuclear reactors and power systems

“Advanced Nuclear Reactors and Power Systems-I” on November 18 during the 2020 ANS Virtual Winter Meeting was the first of a three-session set examining the status of various advanced reactors. The sessions were sponsored by the Operations and Power Division and chaired by Piyush Sabharwall of Idaho National Laboratory.

Presentation topics in the first session included the core design and helium Brayton cycle design of the Holos-Quad microreactor, a microreactor design for a truck charging station, and a levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) estimation on HALEU (high-assay low-enriched uranium) fuels for small modular reactors.

Here are some highlights:

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