Nuclear News on the Newswire

CP-1 at 80: The events of December 2, 1942

On the eve of the 80th anniversary of the first controlled nuclear chain reaction, Nuclear Newswire is back with the second of three prepared #ThrowbackThursday posts of CP-1 coverage from past issues of Nuclear News.

On November 17, we surveyed the events of 1942 leading up to the construction of Chicago Pile-1, an assemblage of graphite bricks and uranium “pseudospheres” used to achieve and control a self-sustaining fission reaction on December 2, 1942, inside a squash court at the University of Chicago’s Stagg Field.

Today we’ll pick up where we left off, as construction of CP-1 began on November 16, 1942.

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Aecon-Wachs to help repurpose Savannah River’s MOX fuel facility

Aecon-Wachs, the U.S. division of Aecon Nuclear, has been tapped to support the Department of Energy’s goal of repurposing the unfinished Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility at the Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina. Known as Building 226-F, the facility is being transitioned into the Savannah River Plutonium Processing Facility (SRPPF) to produce plutonium pits for the nation’s stockpile of nuclear weapons.

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Fortum, Helen Oy to investigate SMR potential

Finnish energy companies Fortum and Helen Oy are initiating a study to explore collaboration on nuclear power projects, with particular emphasis on small modular reactors, the firms jointly announced last week, adding the caveat that “any future decisions on cooperation and investments will be made at a later stage.”

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U.S. to assist Thailand, Philippines with nuclear energy plans

During a recent weeklong trip to Southeast Asia aimed at bolstering U.S. economic and security ties in the region, Vice President Kamala Harris announced the launch of nuclear energy partnerships with Thailand and the Philippines.

Currently, neither country enjoys the benefits of nuclear power. Both rely primarily on some mix of petroleum, natural gas, and coal for their energy needs.

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How has digital technology changed environmental remediation?

Jesus Zamora

Regardless of the specific field you work in or how your daily tasks are performed, digital technology does not go unnoticed, and the environmental remediation field is no exception. Digital technology can be defined as electronic tools, services, or devices that create, store, transmit, and manage data. As technology evolves, so do the ways in which it can be incorporated into remediation activities.

Adequate incorporation of these technologies can greatly improve both workflow and productivity while enhancing the quality and maintaining the integrity of data. My team and I have been able to connect radiological instruments to computers wirelessly, collect millions of radiological measurements, track the approximate location of these measurements, save measurements automatically in a database, and access them at will.

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The Aircraft Reactor Experiment at Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Experimentation on the world’s first molten salt reactor to potentially power aircraft was already underway in November 1954, being carried out by the U.S. Air Force. Oak Ridge National Laboratory was the scene for the power-dense, high-temperature reactor experiment known as the Aircraft Reactor Experiment (ARE).

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U.K. government reaffirms backing of Sizewell C project

Hunt

U.K. chancellor of the exchequer Jeremy Hunt last week assuaged any concerns that Britain’s nuclear energy advocates might have been harboring regarding the new government’s support for the proposed Sizewell C plant. (The United Kingdom is on its third prime minister since July, when Boris Johnson’s government granted EDF Energy its long-awaited development consent order for the new nuclear build project.)

What he said: In his November 17 Autumn Statement, while noting the United Kingdom’s status as “a global leader in renewable energy,” Hunt added, “We need to go further, with a major acceleration of home-grown technologies like offshore wind, carbon capture, and storage, and, above all, nuclear. This will deliver new jobs, industries, and export opportunities and secure the clean, affordable energy we need to power our future economy and reach net zero."

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Two reports agree: Diverse advanced reactor fuel cycles can succeed

Advanced reactors and small modular reactors with strikingly different coolants and sizes offer an array of different benefits, but when it comes to fuel cycle issues, including spent fuel and waste, they have a lot in common with conventional light water reactors. Two reports released within the last week—a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Mathematics (NASEM) consensus committee report two years in the making and a Department of Energy study released by Argonne National Laboratory—address the timely topic of advanced reactor fuel cycle issues. While the NASEM committee ventured to define research and infrastructure needs to support the entire nuclear power fuel cycle, inclusive of new technologies, for decades to come, the DOE report compares the front- and back-end fuel cycle metrics of three reactor designs (from NuScale Power, TerraPower, and X-energy) that have been selected for DOE cost-share–funded demonstrations within this decade. Together, these reports provide assurance that the fuel cycle needs of a fleet of new reactors can be met and point to near-term research and planning needs.

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