Nuclear News on the Newswire

Brookhaven lab names new nuclear and particle physics directorate lead

Gao

Haiyan Gao, currently the Henry W. Newson Distinguished Professor of Physics at Duke University, will join the Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory as associate laboratory director for Nuclear & Particle Physics starting on or about June 1, 2021.

Details: Gao, who has a long history in nuclear physics, will help develop BNL’s collective long-term vision for the next 10 years. She’ll also work across the laboratory and beyond to craft its emerging expertise at the future Electron-Ion Collider, a one-of-kind nuclear physics research facility that will be built at the lab over the next decade.

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Making emergency planning zones smarter: a risk-informed approach for new reactors

The health and safety of the public and protecting people from the consequences of a significant release of radioactive material has been a top priority since the early days of the civilian nuclear energy program. After World War II, it was realized that the core inventory of radionuclides is a potential hazard. From this knowledge, emergency planning zones (EPZs) for nuclear power plants were established.

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DOE touts a MARVEL of a microreactor project

The Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy is spreading the word about plans to build a tiny microreactor called the Microreactor Applications Research Validation & EvaLuation (MARVEL) project inside Idaho National Laboratory’s Transient Reactor Test (TREAT) Facility and have it in operation within the next three years. INL recently released a video that describes how MARVEL could help researchers and industry partners test, develop, and demonstrate the integration of a microreactor’s heat and electricity output with other technologies.

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Isotopes hold clue to travel plans of migrating butterflies

While scientists can tag migrating birds, mammals, and other animals to track their movements, the precise migration patterns of butterflies and other insects too small for tagging evaded scientists’ scrutiny for decades. That changed in 1996, when Leonard Wassenaar and Keith Hobson, working at the time as isotope scientists for Environment Canada, demonstrated that isotopic techniques could be used to determine the origin of individual monarch butterflies and deduce the species’ annual migration routes. Now, the same technique is being used to study other butterfly species.

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GAIN’s leadership begins with the end in mind

Christine King is director of the DOE’s GAIN

The possibilities of new advanced nuclear for the future are undeniably exciting. For me, nuclear energy has provided a career filled with lifelong learning and a global community interested in collaboration. Not every industry is fortunate in this regard. As I look to this exciting future of nuclear, I keep coming back to this advice: “Begin with the end in mind.”

In November 2015, the Department of Energy established the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) for just that purpose. At GAIN, we get up every day to imagine what nuclear could be and identify concrete actions we can take to turn vision into reality. No doubt we have a long way to go, but a lot has changed in the short period of time since GAIN’s inception. Today, we are designing demonstration units to build within this decade. Soon, we will be commercializing and deploying these technologies.

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TAE records plasma temperature milestone

TAE Technologies has announced that it has produced a stable plasma of over 50 million degrees celsius inside a fusion device using a beam-driven, field-reversed configuration. “By generating such stable high-temperature plasmas, TAE has now validated that the company’s unique approach can scale to the conditions necessary for an economically viable commercial fusion power plant by the end of the decade,” the company declared in its April 8 press release. The company added that the results indicate the design’s linear configuration improves plasma confinement as temperatures rise.

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Bill to spur clean energy investment brought back in Senate

Moran

Coons

Sens. Chris Coons (D., Del.) and Jerry Moran (R., Kan.) late last month reintroduced legislation to give investors in clean energy projects, including advanced nuclear, access to a tax advantage currently available only to fossil fuel investors. The bipartisan bill, the Financing Our Energy Future Act (H.B. 1034), was initially introduced in June 2019.

The measure would enable clean energy companies to form master limited partnerships (MLPs)—business ventures that combine the tax benefits of private partnerships (where profits are taxed only when investors receive distributions) with the liquidity of publicly traded companies. By statute, MLPs are currently available only to investors in energy portfolios for oil, natural gas, coal extraction, and pipeline projects.

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