Nuclear News on the Newswire

Bids for SMR deployment in Estonia requested

Moving forward with its plan for small modular reactor deployment in Estonia, Fermi Energia has issued tenders to three SMR firms—GE Hitachi (GEH), NuScale Power, and Rolls-Royce, developers of the BWRX-300, NuScale Power Module, and Rolls-Royce SMR, respectively.

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Saskatchewan IDs potential SMR sites

As part of its planning and regulatory activities to potentially build small modular reactors (SMRs) in currently nuclear-powerless Saskatchewan, Canadian utility SaskPower has selected the province’s Estevan and Elbow regions for further study. (In 2018, SaskPower joined the Canadian government, three other provinces, and four other Canadian utilities to participate in the development of A Call to Action: A Canadian Roadmap for Small Modular Reactors.)

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UNECE: Road to net zero needs many lanes, including one for nuclear

Released this week in the lead-up to November’s COP27 event in Egypt is a report from the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, Carbon Neutrality in the UNECE Region: Technology Interplay under the Carbon Neutrality Concept, which calls for maximizing the use of all low- and zero-carbon technologies—including nuclear technology—to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Termed by the UNECE a “roadmap to carbon neutrality for Europe, North America, and Central Asia,” the 60-page report finds that to attain the net-zero goal, investment in energy as a percentage of gross domestic product needs to grow from 1.24 percent in 2020 to 2.05 percent every year from 2025 until 2050—translating to between $44.8 trillion and $47.3 trillion by 2050, with any additional delay in taking action adding to that price tag.

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Oklo reapproaches NRC with microreactor licensing plan

Some eight months after the Nuclear Regulatory Commission denied Oklo Inc.’s license application to build and operate its Aurora microreactor in Idaho, the company has returned to the regulatory fray. On Wednesday, Oklo announced that it has submitted to the NRC a licensing project plan (LPP) outlining its proposed engagement to support future Aurora licensing activities.

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No cold feet: ARPA-E wants to explore low-energy nuclear reactions

The Department of Energy announced September 13 that it would spend up to $10 million in a bid to settle the question of whether low-energy nuclear reactions (LENR)—historically known as “cold fusion”—could ever become a carbon-free energy source. The funding is part of an Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E) LENR Exploratory Topic designed to “encourage the submission of the most innovative and unconventional ideas in energy technology.”

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ANS Grand Challenge: Expedite licensing

As the largest ultra-low-carbon electricity source in the United States, nuclear energy is a vital pillar of the effort to mitigate climate change. Deployment of advanced nuclear reactor and fuel technologies has been identified as a unique challenge in the production of new nuclear power plants to help maintain and grow our nuclear generating capacity. The licensing of novel nuclear reactor technologies also continues to be a facet of the broader challenge of advanced reactor deployment. When it comes to non–light water reactors and Generation III+ light water reactors, such as the AP-1000 or EPR, deployment is “2X over budget and behind schedule.”1 However, in the case of recent large Generation III+ light water reactors, licensing has not been the rate-limiting step in the reactor deployment timeline, nor has it had a first-order impact on cost. With that said, several significant advances have been made in the expedition of licensing. This article focuses on three areas where progress has been made since this grand challenge was formulated in 2017, with highlights of some examples where the American Nuclear Society has guided or supported this progress.

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Hydrogen production coming to Prairie Island

Clean energy technology firm Bloom Energy has announced plans to install a 240-kW electrolyzer at Xcel Energy’s Prairie Island plant in Red Wing, Minn., to demonstrate the benefits of producing hydrogen with nuclear power. (One of Xcel’s two nuclear plants, Prairie Island houses twin 550-MWe pressurized water reactors.)

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New method produces curium crystals for research in a radiochemistry first

Scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Oregon State University (OSU) have developed a promising new method to isolate and study some of the rarest elements on Earth. Focused first on curium, they have identified three new complexes containing curium ions and revealed the molecules’ 3D structures, as well as previously unknown features.

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Advanced reactor licensing and the path to cost certainty

Laufer

Developing a first-­of-­a-­kind reactor is a daunting endeavor. To be successful, advanced reactor designers need to achieve cost certainty by delivering a safe and affordable product at the promised cost. To meet this goal, Kairos Power structured its approach around four key strategies: 1) achieving technology certainty through a rapid iterative approach; 2) achieving construction certainty by demonstrating the ability to build it; 3) achieving licensing certainty by proving Kairos can license it; and 4) achieving supply chain certainty by vertically integrating critical capabilities. By mitigating risk in these four key areas, Kairos Power is confident that it will get true cost certainty for our future products.

The third prong in Kairos’s strategy—achieving licensing certainty—was a key driver in the decision to build the Hermes low-­power demonstration reactor, and it remains a major workstream as the company’s construction permit application (CPA) undergoes review by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Licensing a new nuclear technology is no small challenge, and there are multiple approaches companies can take. Here’s a look at how we at Kairos are approaching it.

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