NeutronBytes Podcast at Energy Central

podcast imageEnergy Central has kicked off their new podcast series. I have the privilege of being the first one guest on the show, coming out of the starting blocks, to do one with them on all things nuclear energy.

It’s about 20 min long. Give a listen and let me know what you think. (SoundCloud here, lots of other links are listed below)

Energy Central (EC) is thrilled to announce that they’re finally getting into the podcast arena with its inaugural podcast series Energy Central Insights™ Podcast

ec logo

For any of you who have spent time around the Energy Central platform, you’re likely already familiar with my work in that community.  Diving into the first episode, EC welcomes your blogger/publisher and EC community member  EC profile .

In this podcast I share insights on nuclear power and the wider energy sector through this blog NeutronBytes, and related Twitter feed @djysrv.

scoville scale

The inside joke is that the Union Pacific railhead that comes up to the Idaho lab from Blackfoot is called the “Scoville” spur.

While any number of my posts could be worth discussing, Energy Central pulled me into this episode thanks to my annual posting of “Dan’s Idaho Nuclear Chili Recipe.”

Who could have known after all these blog posts over 12 years about nuclear energy, that it would be foodies that would tag the blog for its value to the world of Internet publishing.

Born on the Idaho Arco desert, the Idaho nuclear chili recipe has been posted annually at Thanksgiving  for the past 12 years with this tag line.

By Sunday night you will be stuffed, fed up, literally, and figuratively, with turkey. Instead of food fit for pilgrims, try food invented to be eaten in the wide open west — chili.

Cook this dish on Saturday. Eat it on Sunday over a hot potato with shredded cheddar cheese as a garnish. Take it to work for lunch on Monday. 

Listen at any of the links below hear the full story, which is all about nuclear energy and a lot less about chili, and hear a perspective on the role nuclear plays today in different areas across the globe and how that role will change moving forward.

Where to Listen to the Podcast

All new episodes of the Energy Central Insights™ Podcast will be posted to the relevant Energy Central community group, but you can also subscribe to the podcast at all the major podcast outlets, including:

About Energy Central’s Podcast

With this first podcast series, EC is hoping to take some of the best and most engaging content already submitted to the Energy Central community.

The goal is to bring it to life with lively conversations that allow its modertors to dig in deeper and really get to the heart of the issues that matter to utilities, energy debates, and the topics that will shape the sector moving forward.

The Energy Central Insights™ Podcast is hosted by Jason PriceCommunity Ambassador of Energy Central. Jason is a recent NYSERDA scholar and NYU Clean Tech diploma recipient, having worked extensively in a multi-owner, utility-scale microgrid business model.

Jason is joined in the podcast booth by the producer of the podcast, Matt Chester, who is also the Community Manager of Energy Central and energy analyst/independent consultant in energy policy, markets, and technology.

About Your Blogger / Publisher

Why do I write about nuclear energy?  What some of you may not know is that my career spans a course of 40 years, with stops at EPA, the Idaho National Laboratory, and NASA, among others.

I’ve also been a consulting project manager for social media.  For example, I helped launch the ANS Nuclear Cafe at the American Nuclear Society and moderated a webinar with the Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulaory Commission.

As I enter the 13th year of blogging, I think in the current era nuclear energy assumes even greater importance as a means to reduce CO2 emissions on a global scale.  I intend to keep writing.

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Posted in Nuclear | 1 Comment

TerraPower CEO Interview: How the Firm has Transformed Itself into a Nuclear Science Innovation Hub

In just a few years TerraPower has transformed itself from developing a single advanced reactor design to become a dynamic hub of innovation in multiple areas of nuclear science. It’s part of a drive to be a thought leader for the industry and to demonstrate that the technologies it is working on will have a commercial future.

chris-levesque

Chris Levesque, CEO TerraPower

CEO Chris Levesque told NeutronBytes in a telephone interview on 12/4/19 that when the company started to develop a clean energy source 12 years ago its goal was to bring electrical power to the world.

Since then in addition to continuing to work on the Traveling Wave Reactor (TWR), the firm also has a more recent and robust effort, in cooperation with multiple U.S. partners, to develop a molten chloride salt reactor (MCFR).

More recently it has added to its portfolio projects to manufacture medical isotopes, develop process heat applications to make carbon fiber, and deploy modeling software for use in designing advanced nuclear reactors.

Two main focus areas for TerraPower center on decarbonization of the electrical generation indusry and on methods to generate and use process heat. TerraPower plans to produce commercial results in both areas.

“We are working on a concept of an energy architecture for the U.S. which which includes both focus areas. TerraPower wants to be a thought leader working with U.S. national labs,” Levesque said.

Levesque harnesses a powerful metaphor to explain the transformational approach developed by the firm.

He said that nuclear reactors can be the successors to our current industrial fire breathing systems. Levesque said that we need to use nuclear heat to replace the energy we get from fossil fuels, such as coal and natural gas, which is used in the processes that make steel and concrete.

“We need to reframe our view of what we do with reactors from being merely nuclear steam supply systems to becoming nuclear heat supply systems.”

Process Heat Is a Product

High on the list of things TerraPower is now doing to bring that concept to life is that it is developing methods of using process heat to produce high tech carbon materials from ordinary coal. (Press Release)

Carbon fiber produced by this method have unique properties making the material ideal for applications ranging from aerospace to automobiles to sporting goods. Carbon fiber parts are lighter and stronger than their metal counterparts. For instance, carbon fiber is used in aircraft components where its superior strength to weight ratio far exceeds that of metals like steel and aluminum used to fabricate similar parts.

In related work testing is taking place in the TerraPower lab working on alloys and materials that can withstand the intense heat and radiation that occur inside an advanced nuclear reactor.

The challenges are daunting. The temperature inside a light water reactor reach about 300C, but in the TWR the heat will go up to 500C, and in the MCFR could be as high as 700C.

Spinoffs from the R&D work in this area include building materials and manufacturing methods. TerraPower is also exploring using molten salt as a thermal storage mechanism.

The Future of the Traveling Wave Reactor

In 2018 the U.S. government shut down TerraPower’s working relationships in China driven by a mix of concerns over trade politics and nonproliferation issues.

Levesque says that some people had thought that the federal government’s decision to end TerraPower’s working relationships in China would also be the end of the TWR project. Not so says Levesque despite the considerable loss of project momentum caused by the government’s action.

“In China we had a partnership with our counterparts developing the technology and with the regulatory agencies. We were on a schedule that would produce a demonstration reactor within an eight year timeframe.”

The firm is bouncing back Levesaque says.

“We are now in intensive discussions to re-create the demonstration effort for the TWR here in the U.S.”

Although Levesque did not provide a timeframe or roadmap with specific milestones to achieve that outcome, he does have a vision of where the company wants to go.

“Our first unit will be a 300 MWe demonstration unit built with the support of public/private partnerships. Our intent is to demonstrate that the technology works. To that end we are working on securing a commitment to build it at a DOE national laboratory so that it is licensed by the agency as a research reactor.”

Leveaque makes the point that a GEN IV safety analysis is fundamentally different than one for light water reactors. His expectation is that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission will learn from the experience of observing how DOE licenses the demonstration projects and use that knowledge to speed up the safety design reviews of all types of GEN IV reactor designs.

Legislation is Helpful, but More Effort Is Needed

Another confidence builder for the firm is that Levesque likes what he sees coming out of Congress.

“Our big message to Congress is that we like the legislation which has been enacted so far and the new initiatives that are coming forward. We urge Congress to continue to support advanced nuclear energy technology development with a strong sense of urgency.”

Global Competition Shows U.S. has Work to Do

But there are also challenges ahead coming from nations that have invested more robustly than the U.S. in advanced nuclear energy technologies. Where as Congress has appropriated funding for projects in the range of millions of dollars, other nations have pushed forward in key nuclear technology areas with funding levels in the billions.

For instance, in 2018, China announced a two decade long program to spend the equivalent of $3 billion on various designs of molten salt reactors. Just this week it was announced that Siberian Chemical Combine (SCC) has awarded a RUB26.3 billion (USD$412 million) contract to Titan-2 for the construction and installation works for the BREST-OD-300 lead-cooled fast neutron reactor facility at its site in Seversk, Russia.

Levesque doesn’t mince words when he looks at the global competition.

“If we don’t do it, others will. Nations like the Canada, the U.K., and Japan are already making these kinds of investments. Russian and China are way ahead and we have a lot of work to do to catch up.”

Congress and Federal Government Need to Provide Policy and Financial Support

In response to the fact that TerraPower lost its partnership with China, in part due to nonproliferation concerns by the U.S. government, Levesque says that TWR is “proliferation resistant” and he hopes for a “rational policy” from the government so that the firm can seek export sales.

Also, he notes that even as the firm develops a U.S. based demonstration project, it is looking globally because the project to build the first of a kind unit, and commercial versions to follow, will have an international supply chain. He adds that Congress and the federal government need to open domestic and international commercialization pathways for developers of advanced nuclear reactor designs.

MCFR Project is Moving Along Quickly

With regard to the MCFR, Levesque says that the firm knows that molten salt reactors can be built. Oak Ridge did so in the 50s and 60s. TerraPower is working with a number of partners on it. They include the Southern Company, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Electric Power Research Institute and Vanderbilt University. The project is funded by a 2016 $60M grant from DOE.

One of the firm’s focus areas right now is to build test loops for the MCFR. The Integrated Effects Test Loop for Molten Salt will have a 2nd quarter 2020 start with completion by the end that year.

A big surprise is that Levesque says the firm’s engineers believe that the MCFR could be designed and built as a micro-reactor and are looking at finding a way to build one quite fast.

The size of micro reactors is generally regarded as being between 2-10 MWe. However, Levesque says it is too soon to say what the power level would be for a micro size MCFR.

He says the firm wants to reduce the time to build a commercial unit from breaking ground to entering revenue service in as little as two-to-three years. Micro-reactors may be appropriate for places that don’t have nuclear energy today like nations in Africa.

New Medical isotopes Contain Potential for Cancer Cures

The firm has branched out to work on production of medical isotopes. TerraPower is working on methods to extract Actinium 225 from surplus U233 stored at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The isotope may be effectively used in targeted alpha therapy for cancer patients.

Levesque says, “the development of new nuclear medicine isotopes shows the value of nuclear science and demonstrates U.S. leadership in this crucial area.”

“If we lose this leadership role, because of under investment in nuclear science, it will degrade the work force and diminish the robustness of the supply chain. The point is that nuclear science has many collateral benefits. It’s not just about power reactors to make electricity. There is a huge interest by pharmaceutical firms in cost effective production of ACT225.”

To support this work TerraPower recently opened up lab space to work on the requirements associated with the FDA’s standards for manufacturing medical isotopes.

Advanced Modeling Software to Aid in Reactor Design

Composite modeling is being used to evolve and optimize reactor designs. The firm is “really proud of our open source software and the fact that we are able to share it with nuclear engineering schools,” Levesque said.

He adds that the firm has a lot of outreach to these university programs to encourage the next generation of nuclear engineers and scientists. And there is something new going on with this group.

“This generation wants more than just a paycheck from a career. They want to have their work mean something, and with the climate change crisis upon us, they are bent on saving the world.”

Levesque hopes some of them will come to work at TerraPower to help the firm do just that.

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Posted in Nuclear | 1 Comment

Battelle Energy Alliance / INL Seeks Partners for Versatile Test Reactor

inl-logo.jpgBattelle Energy Alliance, LLC announced this week a a request for expressions of interest in a partnership opportunity for the development and deployment at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) of a new U.S. Department of Energy facility for fast neutron testing: the Versatile Test Reactor.

The announcement is the first step in the government procurement process to identify potential partners, assess the capabilities of offers, and select one or more partners to participate in the program.

DOE’s Assistant Secretary of Nuclear Energy, Rita Baranwal, made the announcement on 11/18/19 at an American Nuclear Society winter meeting  in Washington, D.C.

“This morning, I have the pleasure to announce that Battelle Energy Alliance, the day-to-day contractor for Idaho National Laboratory, is seeking industry partnerships to develop and deploy the Versatile Test Reactor,” Baranwal said.  [See links below]

BEA is seeking an Expression of Interest (EOI) from industry stakeholders interested in forming a partnership for a cost sharing arrangement to design and construct the VTR.

The scope could include development and deployment of the VTR, other uses of VTR capabilities beyond just advanced reactor design and licensing, reducing the cost and schedule risk of new nuclear plant design and construction, and other compatible uses of VTR capabilities.

A key element of the value proposition to be brought to the table by a potential partner is to spell out the benefits of the partnership to the interested party and benefits of the partnership to the Department of Energy.

What is the Versatile Test Reactor?

The VTR is a state-of-the-art research and development facility that creates the conditions necessary to test how well fuels, materials and sensors endure when subjected to radiation in the form of fast neutrons.

The Versatile Test Reactor will have dedicated “fast-neutron-spectrum” testing capability, creating the conditions necessary to see how fuels, materials and sensors endure when subjected to radiation in the form of fast neutrons. 

VTR would perform radiation tests in a controlled environment that could be representative of any number of current or future reactor designs. Just a few months of high intensity neutron bombardment in a test reactor can mimic years in a power reactor core.

vtr core conceptual diagram

Conceptual desing for VTR core. Image: INL

In addition to helping with development of next-generation fast neutron reactors, the accelerated experimental results achieved with a fast neutron test reactor can benefit materials development for today’s water reactors, as well as other advanced thermal reactors that operate with slow neutrons at higher temperatures.

Time Frame for Deployment

DOE will decide, perhaps as soon as 2021, whether to proceed with building the VTR, at which point Congress would need to appropriate funding for the project to proceed, Battelle said.

While DOE has not decided where to located the physical facility, with choices among Argonne, Oak Ridge, and Idaho, the partnerhip program, if successful, is expected to enhance the Idaho site’s chances of landing the plant.

vtr timeline
Congress has already budgeted $100 million over the past couple of years to fund the project’s development. Construction could begin as soon as 2022 with operations commencing in 2026. The test reactor would be authorized by the DOE.  

Construction cost estimates vary from a low of $3 billion to $3.5 billion to a higher estimate of $3.9 billion to $6 billion. However, until a detailed design is completed, a verification of the real cost is still in the future.

 If interested in exploring a partnership relationship with the VTR effort, click here for more information regarding the Expression of Interest.   See also this PDF fileExpressions of Interest – Preliminary Design Information

Battelle Energy Alliance (BEA) is the managing and operating contractor for the Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory (INL) in Idaho Falls, Idaho.

International Nuclear Energy Organization
Names DOE Official to Key Role in Setting Strategy

The International Framework for Nuclear Energy Cooperation (IFNEC) named U.S. Department of Energy official Suzanne Jaworowski on 11/16/19 as its new Steering Group chairperson. IFNEC made the announcement during its global conference in Washington, D.C. Jaworowski is a  a senior adviser with the Department’s Office of Nuclear Energy,

Jaworowski has served as vice chair of the Steering Group since December 2018, where she provided strategic counsel and communications support to IFNEC in addition to spearheading this week’s ministerial meetings and global conference on small modular reactors and advanced nuclear technologies.

The IFNEC forum brings together key stakeholders from 65 countries to explore different ways countries can work together to ensure the peaceful use of nuclear energy. The IFNEC Steering Group is the permanent body that oversees this work. The IFNEC consists of 34 Participant countries, 31 Observer countries and 4 international observers organizations.

Argentina’s Facundo Deluchi and Japan’s Kenji Totoki were also newly appointed as vice chairs.

The World Nuclear Association has an indepth summary of the topics covering in this important meeting.

Canadian National Laboratory to Fund Three SMRs 

  • CNL to Fund Collaborations With SMR Vendors to Accelerate Clean Energy Deployment
  • Negotiations underway with Terrestrial, USNC, Kairos and Moltex

cnl logoCanadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL announced this week that it has selected the first recipients of the Canadian Nuclear Research Initiative (CNRI). This initiative seeks to accelerate the deployment of small modular reactors (SMR) in Canada by enabling research and development and connecting global vendors of SMR technology with the facilities and expertise within Canada’s national nuclear laboratories. 

CNRI recipients will be able to share technical expertise to advance the commercialization and deployment of SMR technologies.

“CNL has made significant progress over the past three years to position Canada as the hub for small modular reactor research, we have built up considerable expertise and knowledge in key technical areas that are common across SMR technologies,” commented Dr. Kathryn McCarthy, Vice-President of Science and Technology at CNL.

“CNRI allows CNL to respond directly and efficiently to the needs of industry by co-funding important R&D that accelerates deployment in an increasingly competitive commercial marketplace,” added Dr. Corey McDaniel, Chief Commercial Officer.

CNL received a strong response to the announcement of the initial intake, receiving applications from key players in the SMR industry in Canada and abroad. Submissions were accepted based on a list of designated focus areas, including market analysis, fuel development, reactor physics modelling, transportation, and others.

These CNRI projects, and others, were highlighted during the 7th SMR Vendor Roundtable held on November 19, 2019, at the ANS Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C. It featured interactions from more than 30 reactor vendors included policymakers, regulators, customers, and national laboratories from around the world.

CNRI Applicants are required to match funds and in-kind contributions that will be made by CNL. The following projects have been selected for negotiations on the terms of cost sharing arrangements:

MOLTEX CANADA – Reactor developer Moltex Canada, along with the University of New Brunswick, seek to build and optimize a test apparatus to explore the potential of converting used CANDU power reactor fuel into a fuel form capable of powering their Stable Salt Reactor design. 

KAIROS-POWER – KAIROS-Power is proposing the development of a Tritium Management Strategy for its high-temperature fluoride salt-cooled reactor (KP-FHR) design. This CNRI project also includes early work to identify technologies to implement this strategy.   

ULTRASAFE NUCLEAR (USNC) – UltraSafe Nuclear Corporation is proposing work that seeks to resolve a broad array of technical questions in support of its Micro Modular Reactor (MMR). These include fuel processing, reactor safety, and fuel and graphite irradiation, among others.

TERRESTRIAL ENERGY – Terrestrial Energy Inc. will be evaluating the applicability of nuclear safety, security and non-proliferation technologies to the IMSR400 reactor and other SMR designs.  This work will look at opportunities to utilize CNL’s existing facilities, most notably the ZED-2 reactor, as well as develop new experimental capabilities related to molten salt reactors.

CNL clarified in a statement on its website, “CNL is not building, designing or selling an SMR. Yes, we would love to host such a project but we are not in the business of designing and building reactors.”

CNL said its goal is to  “enable an SMR vendor or developer to use a CNL-managed site. We would work closely with them, with a high likelihood of providing support on a commercial basis every step of the way.”

The next call for CNRI proposals is expected in early 2020.  For submission details, or to learn more about CNRI, please visit the CRNI home page . For more information on CNL’s small modular reactor program, please visit CNL’s home page for all of its SMR efforts.

A video accompanying this announcement is available: CNL’s 6th SMR Vendor Roundtable was held concurrent with Canada’s hosting of the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) in Vancouver in May 2019. The video highlights the first time that small and advanced carbon-free nuclear energy was included in the CEM program.

France / Six New EPR Reactors Will Cost €46 Billion

NucNet   French state-controlled utility and nuclear operator EDF estimates it would cost at least €46bn to build six of its Generation III 1650 MWe EPR nuclear power reactors if the government decides to build them, French newspaper Le Monde reported last week.

Le Monde said the estimate was in a confidential document presented to the board of state-controlled EDF at the end of July.

Each 1,600-MW reactor would cost €7.5bn to €7.8bn, (€4700/Kw) ($5,170/kw) based on building the units in pairs with financing over about 20 years, Le Monde reported.

This would include additional line items such as “dismantling provisions” of €400m and provisions for “uncertainties” of €500m for each reactor, Le Monde said.  These numbers are unusually low. Either the newspaper got them wrong or someone at EDF is dreaming. 

The cost estimate is highly competitive relative to global trends and given EDF’s track record in Finland and France for the first two EPRs, would need significant verification to be credible.

At €7.5bn to €7.8bn the new units would still  cost more than four South Korean APR1400 units under construction at Barakah in the United Arab Emirates.  Estimates of the four units, of which three are still under construction, range from $20-24 billion or $5,000-$6,000/Kw or €4,550-€5460.

A May 2018 report by the UK-based Energy Technology Institute put the total capital cost of each Barakah unit at an average of $5bn, but noted that this was due partly to “a highly focused, deliberate and intentional program to drive down costs and drive up performance.”

This is  still much smaller amount than the estimated €12.4bn cost of the Flamanville-3 EPR under construction in northern France

The same report suggested that the total capital cost of Flamanville-3 will be €13.6bn. Flamanville-3 has been plagued by cost overruns and a series of technical problems resulting in years of delays.

Last month EDF chairman Jean-Bernard Lévy said it is clear that France is preparing to build new nuclear power plants and the best way to deliver them while bringing down costs is to build them in pairs.

France is aiming for carbon neutrality by 2050 and “nobody thinks we can ensure this with an energy system only with renewables and storage. ”

According to Le Monde, Mr Lévy said plans to build new nuclear plants were “part of the mission” he was given when he was appointed five years ago.

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Posted in Nuclear | 2 Comments

X-Energy Signs on with Jordan for Four 75 MWe HTGR

xenergy logoJordan and X-energy Agree to Accelerate Work to Deploy a 300 MWe Nuclear Power Plant

According to a statement released by X-Energy on November 15, 2019,  Jordan and X-Energy have moved to the second stage of their relationships by signing off on a letter of intent (LOI) to build four 75 MWe high temperature gas cooled reactors that burn Triso fuel.

The objective of the LOI is to accelerate the process to build a nuclear power plant project in Jordan by 2030. The LOI contemplates the power plant will be four of X-energy’s 75 MWe Xe-100 reactor plant which are helium cooled reactors and supplied by X-energy’s patented TRISO fuel.

Dr. Khaled Toukan, Chairman of the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC), and Dr. Kam Ghaffarian, Executive Chairman of X-energy, LLC, signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) on Monday, November 11, 2019

The agreement was witnessed by Dr. Kamal Araj, Vice Chairman, JAEC and Mr. Clay Sell, CEO, X-energy, in a ceremony hosted by Ambassador Dina Kawar at the Jordanian Embassy in Washington, DC. Attendees included representatives from both organizations as well as representatives from the U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Commerce and other industry representatives.

JAEC is seeking to encourage the development of a civilian nuclear power program in Jordan to meet its energy security objectives. As part of that effort, the JAEC is in the process of evaluating the most attractive nuclear design technology vendor to select the best that would meet the country’s requirements.

X-energy has been engaged in discussions with JAEC since 2017 and had previously signed a Memorandum of Understanding, November 5, 2017, that provides for a technology feasibility and deployment readiness evaluation of the Xe-100 in Jordan.

Prior coverage on this blogJordan Downsizes its Nuclear Energy Ambitions to SMRs

In July 2018 Jordan decided as a matter of policy to replace a prior deal with Rosatom for two 1000 MW VVER commercial nuclear reactors with a plan for small modular reactors including consideration of designs from the U.S. U.K., and South Korea. Jordan cited the financial burden of funding $10 billion for the two 1000 MW Rosatom VVERs as he reason for the decision.

Rosatom offered Jordan 50% financing with Jordan having the requirement to raise the other 50% with a combination of government funding and outside investors. The financial plan never came together for Jordan and the deal became a non-starter as a result.

Other SMR Deals?

Jordan has been in talks since 2017 with at least three different vendors of LWR and advanced small modular reactors. The talks include UK Rolls Royce for a to be named LWR type SMR, US based X-Energy which has a new generation of South Africa’s PBMR “pebble bed” high temperature gas cooled reactor (HTGR), and China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) which also has an HTGR design.

According to the World Nuclear Association, in March 2017 an agreement between JAEC and Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KA-CARE) was signed for a feasibility study on construction of two SMRs in Jordan for the production of electricity and desalinated water. KA-CARE has an agreement with Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) to build its 330 MWt (100 MWe) SMART pressurized water reactor.

In November 2017 JAEC signed a memorandum of understanding with Rolls-Royce to conduct a feasibility study for the construction of an SMR, and another with X-energy to consider building that company’s 75 MWe Xe-100 high temperature gas-cooled reactor.

In April 2018 JAEC said it was in advanced negotiations with China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) to build a 220 MWe HTR-PM high temperature gas-cooled reactor for operation in 2025.

In November 2017, Rolls-Royce signed a memorandum of understanding with JAEC to carry out a technical feasibility study for the construction of a Rolls-Royce SMR in Jordan. A similar agreement was also signed in November 2017 with X-Energy for electricity, water desalination and other thermal applications.

The Jordan Times reported separately that work on selecting a site for an SMR was proceeding in the Qusayer region near Azraq about 60km east of Amman. The paper reports that studies were conducted on the site by Belgium’s Tractebel, Korea Electric Power Corporation and Worley Parsons, with findings showing the suitability of the location for the facilities.

Jordan HTGR candidate site

Azraq, Jordan, location reported to be candidate site for X-Energy HTGR

Jordan has had a safeguards agreement in force with the IAEA since 1978, and an Additional Protocol in force since 1998.

About X-Energy’s Reactor Technology

Each Xe-100 reactor will generate 200MWt and approximately 75MWe. The standard X-energy Reactor “four-pack” plant generates approximately 300MWe and will fit on as few as 13 acres. All of the components for the Xe-100 are intended to be road-transportable, and will be installed, rather than constructed, at the project site to streamline construction.

X-Energy-Reactor-Steam-Generator_thumb.png

The Generation IV X-energy reactor is helium cooled with a heat source based on pebble bed technology which has a proven meltdown proof core. Heat transfer is via a proven helical coil steam generator. Small size and modular construction result in relatively low cost. On-line fueling allows for continuous operations.

X-energy has not posted information on its website about the estimated cost of the units. However, using a hypothetical cost of $5,000/kw, the 300 MW of power would cost $1.5 billion which interestingly is same rough order of magnitude as the cost of the 300 MW PWR design that GE Hitachi recently announced in a deal with Estonia.

Note also that for a desert region like Jordan, a helium cooled reactor would not need the supplies of water required by a PWR, but would need the water for the steam cycle. This could be a source of competitive advantage for X-energy in he Middle East.

What is TRISO Fuel?

The X-Energy design is intended to run on TRISO fuel. TRistructural ISOtropic (TRISO) coated fuels start with a uranium kernel, which is coated with three layers of pyrolytic carbon and one layer of silicon carbide. These coatings encapsulate all product radionuclei under all operating conditions. TRISO particles can be formed into numerous fuel element geometries thus supporting multiple advanced reactor designs and concepts.

TRISO Development Center

X-energy is currently manufacturing uranium oxide/carbide (UCO) based kernels, tristructural isotropic (TRISO) particles, and fuel pebbles at a 5,000-sq. ft. pilot fuel facility located at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) as part of the DOE Advanced Reactor Concept 2015 Cooperative Agreement.

This DOE Project allows X-energy to move from Pilot toward a FOAK fuel facility that serves advanced reactors with HALEU requirements, TRISO-based fuel forms, and Accident Tolerant Fuel.

See prior coverage on this blogDOE Takes Divergent Paths to Fabrication of High Assay Fuels

X-energy is working to design, finance, and license their TRISO-X Commercial Fuel Fabrication Facility, scheduled to begin commercial-scale fuel production in the 2023-2024 timeframe.

Global Nuclear Fuel and X-energy Announce TRISO Fuel Collaboration

Global Nuclear Fuel (GNF) and X-energy announced November 6th a collaboration to produce low-cost, high-quality TRi-structural ISOtropic (TRISO) particle nuclear fuel.

The companies have signed a teaming agreement for the purpose of developing High-Assay Low-Enriched Uranium (HALEU) TRISO fuel to potentially supply the U.S. Department of Defense for micro-reactors and NASA for its nuclear thermal propulsion requirements.

See prior coverage on this blog – TRISO Fuel Drives Global Development of Advanced Reactors

“TRISO is a robust fuel form well suited for military and space applications,” said Clay Sell, X-energy’s CEO.

“The extremely high and unnecessary cost of working with HALEU in a Category I NRC facility has, in the past, limited TRISO’s economic viability in the marketplace. Utilizing X-energy’s already operational state-of-the-art equipment in GNF’s licensed facility changes the dynamic for TRISO-fueled reactor deployment.”

By leveraging X-energy’s currently operating commercial-scale TRISO production equipment and GNF’s NRC-licensed fuel fabrication facility in Wilmington, North Carolina, the teaming arrangement is expected to produce TRISO fuel of significantly higher quality and at costs that are substantially lower than other potential manufacturers.

TRISO coated fuels start with a uranium kernel, which is coated with three layers of pyrolytic carbon and one layer of silicon carbide. These coatings encapsulate all product radionuclei under all operating conditions. The enrichment level of TRIO fuel varies according to the reactor design with levels ranging from 9% U235 to not more than 19% U235.

rriso fuel 2
About X-energy

X-energy is an advanced nuclear reactor design and TRISO-based fuel fabrication company headquartered in Rockville, Maryland. X-energy’s reactor designs

  • utilize high temperature gas-cooled pebble bed reactors which cannot melt down,
  • are “walk-away” safe without operator intervention and;
  • reduce costs by utilizing factory-produced components that significantly reduce construction time.

X-energy is also manufacturing uranium oxide/carbide (UCO) based kernels, TRISO particles, and fuel pebbles at a 5,000-sq. ft. fuel facility located at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) as a prototype for its commercial fuel manufacturing facility.

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Posted in Nuclear | 1 Comment

Dan’s Idaho Nuclear Chili Recipe

This is a Thanksgiving tradition now published for the 12th year in a row here and  previously at my former blog Idaho Samizdat (2007-2012)

PotChili1In the spirit of Thanksgiving, and wanting to take a break from reading, thinking, and writing about nuclear energy, I’m offering my tried and true cooking instructions for something completely different.

By Sunday night you will be stuffed, fed up, literally, and figuratively, with turkey. Instead of food fit for pilgrims, try food invented to be eaten in the wide open west — chili. Cook this dish on Saturday. Eat it on Sunday. Take it to work for lunch on Monday. 

colored-hot-peppers-300x199These instructions take about an hour to complete. This chili has a few more vegetables and beans than some people might like, but we’re all trying to eat healthy these days. Although the name of this dish has the word “nuclear” in it, it isn’t all that hot on the Scoville scale. If you want some other choices for nuclear chili there are lots of recipes on Google

six pack of beerThe beer adds sweetness to the vegetables, as does the brandy, and is a good broth for cooking generally. In terms of the beer, which is an essential ingredient, you’ll still have five cans or bottles left to share with friends so there’s always that.

However, I recommend dark beers or amber ales such as Negra Modelo or Anchor Steam for drinking with this dish and Budweiser or any American pilsner for cooking it. Remember, good chili requires good beer.

Alternatives for drinking include local western favorites such as Moose Drool or Black Butte Porter, and regional amber ales like Alaskan Amber or Fat Tire. Do not cook with “light” beer. It’s a very bad idea! Your dinner guests will not forgive you. 😦

The men and women running the reactors couldn’t drink beer, but they did have coffee. It’s still that way today.

History of the cooking instructions

Scoville, Idaho, is the destination for Union Pacific rail freight for the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) way out on the Arco desert. The line comes up from Blackfoot, ID, using the UP spur that connects Pocatello with Idaho Falls, and, eventually, to Butte, MT.

There is no town by the name of “Scoville,” but legend has it that way back in the 1950s & 60s, when the Idaho National Laboratory was called the National Reactor Testing Station, back shift workers on cold winter nights relished the lure of hot chili hence the use of the use of the name ‘Scoville” for shipping information.

The Arco desert west of Idaho Falls is both desolate and beautiful. In winter overnight temperatures on the Arco desert can plunge to -20F or more.  Bus riders on their way to work in the early morning hours have sometimes been astonished to see the aurora borealis full of streaming electrons in the skies overhead of the sagebrush landscape.  Some workers have a shorter trip than bouncing over Highway 20 from Idaho Falls. Their “commute” is from the small town of Arco which has a fabled history in the development of atomic energy.

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The Arco Desert is home to several two million year old volcanic calderas that trace the travels of the hot spot now under Yellowstone National Park

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The Idaho National Laboratory is located about 45 miles west of Idaho Falls, ID 43.3N;112.1W more or less.  Note to readers:  I worked at the Idaho National Laboratory for 20 years on the Arco desert, aka “the site,” and in town. I developed this recipe there and am pleased to share it with readers.

Why ‘2nd day’ in the Name?

This is “2nd day chili.” That means after you make it, put it in the unheated garage or a refrigerator to cool, and then reheat it on the stove top the next day.  Do not microwave it.  That will turn the beans to mush.

By waiting a day the flavors will have had time to mix with the ingredients, and on a cold Idaho night what you need that warms the body and the soul is a bowl of this hot chili with fresh, hot from the oven cornbread on the side.

Dan’s 2nd day Idaho Nuclear Chili

If you make a double portion, you can serve it for dinner over a hot Idaho baked potato with salad. Enjoy.

Ingredients  ( for spices kick it up a notch or tone it down to taste )

1 lb chopped or ground beef (15-20% fat)
1 large onion
1 sweet red, orange or yellow pepper
1 sweet green pepper
10-12 medium size mushrooms
1 can pinto beans (plain, no “chili sauce”)
1 can black beans
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 can small, white ‘shoepeg” corn
1 12 oz can beer
1 cup hot beef broth
1 tablespoon cooking sherry, brandy; or, bourbon is ok too
2 tablespoons finely chopped medium heat jalapeno peppers
2-4 tablespoons red chili powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon coarse powdered garlic
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cilantro

Directions

1. Chop the vegetables into small pieces and brown them at medium heat in canola cooking oil. Add 1 tablespoon of cooking sherry, brandy, etc., to the vegetables near the end. Drain thoroughly. Sprinkle chili powder, salt, pepper, spices, etc., to taste on vegetables while they are cooking. The onions should be more or less translucent to be fully cooked. Don’t let them burn. Put the mushrooms in last as they cook fast.  Drain the vegetables and put them into the pot with beer and beef broth.
2. Brown the meat separately and drain the fat. Also sprinkle chili power and the cumin on the meat while cooking.
3. Combine all the ingredients in a large pot. Reminder – be sure to drain the beans, and tomatoes before adding. Simmer slowly on low heat for at least one-to-two hours Stir occasionally.
4. Set aside and refrigerate when cool. If the pot doesn’t fit in the frig, and the garage is unheated, put it out here to cool off.
5. Reheat the next day. Garnish with shredded sharp cheddar cheese. Serve with cornbread and beer.
Feeds 2-4 adults.

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Idaho bus drivers say “eat more chili.”  Enjoy.

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Posted in Nuclear | 1 Comment

Rolls Royce Reveals 440 MW Commercial Reactor Design

Rolls Royce Consortium Plans SMR Units For Existing UK Sites

The firm says that once it has orders for at least five of them, it can deliver each unit for about $2.2 billion. It has plans to build a fleet of them at existing nuclear power stations in the UK starting in the early 2030s.

(NucNet) A consortium headed by British engineering giant Rolls Royce announced this week it expects to develop its first-of-a-kind small modular nuclear reactors in Cumbria, northwest England. The firm has made nuclear reactors for decades that fit inside the UK nuclear submarines and is now adapting that expertise to commercial applications.

Alan Woods, director of strategy and business development at Rolls Royce, told delegates at the Global Reach 2019 event in Manchester, UK, that the company is focusing its efforts on developing small modular reactors (SMRs) at existing licensed nuclear sites – with Cumbria and Wales its top targets.

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Illustration of the Rolls Royce Plant. Image: Rlls Royce.

In July the government said it will invest up to £18m to support the design of the UK-made SMRs. And this week UK Research and Innovation pledged to provide a further £18M, U$D23M, which will be matched by members of the consortium, to progress the project.

The government said in July that the Rolls-Royce consortium had proposed a significant joint investment of more than £500M, U$D640M, focused on designing a first-of-a-kind SMR.  In fact the consortium could easily add a third zero to the investor led funding goal given the costs of completing the design, testing and qualifying the fuel, getting the design through the UK GDR, a minimum four year process, and building the First of a kind (FOAK) assuming a customer comes onboard on a timely manner.

The consortium is led by Rolls-Royce, which is responsible for the design, construction and support of the small nuclear power plants that power Britain’s atomic submarines The consortium comprises firms Assystem, Atkins, BAM Nuttall, Laing O’Rourke, National Nuclear Laboratory, Nuclear AMRC, Rolls-Royce, Wood and The Welding Institute.

“The consortium expects to more than match any government funding both by direct investment and by raising funds from third-party organisations,” a statement said. However, the firm did not announce a customer for the units. The Rolls Royce consortium aims to have the first working model up-and-running in the early 2030s.

Mr Woods told the conference that despite being at the design stage, Rolls Royce is already considering sites for SMRs.

“They will be built on existing nuclear licensed sites,” he said. “We expect to build them on sites in Wales and particularly in Cumbria. That’s where we’re focusing, that’s where we’ll put our effort.”

“All our focus has been on reducing the capital, absolutely reducing the construction period, and removing risks where we can. It opens the market to much greater potential investors. We have to make them cost competitive.”

Technical Specifications

The Rolls Royce design is actually larger than what is considered by the IAEA as an SMR. The upper limit by the agency is 300 MW. The Rolls Royce design comes in at 400-450 MW. This makes it more of a mid-size reactor.

rr coolIt is a three loop, close-coupled, Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR) provides a power output at circa 400-450 MWe from 1200- 1350 MWth using industry standard UO2 fuel.

Coolant is circulated via three centrifugal Reactor Coolant Pumps (RCPs) to three corresponding vertical u-tube Steam Generators (SGs). The design includes multiple active and passive safety systems, each with substantial internal redundancy. (See image right)

Target Costs

The target cost for each station is GBP1.8 billion, U$D 2.3 billion, by the time five have been built, with further savings possible, Rolls-Royce said. Each power station will be able to operate for 60 years and provide 440 Mwe of electricity.

Estimates of the cost of smaller SMRs, that is with power ratings of less than 300 MWe, are currently in the range of $4,000 to $5,000 / Kw. A 440 MW plant would therefore cost, using these numbers, between $1.76B and $2.20B which puts the Rolls Roye number in the neighborhood of $5,000/kw.

Next steps for Rolls Royce, once the design is complete, is to enter it in the UK nuclear safety regulatory Generic Design Assessment Process. At the same time, Rolls Royce said, it will begin to develop the supply chain for what it hopes will be a fleet of these types of units.

The GDR can take four years and construction for the FOAK could easily be a three year journey. Best estimate for the first commercial unit being in revenue service would be by the early 2030s.  While the firm said it would target existing nuclear sites for the plants, it did not specify any commitments from electric utilities to buy one of the units. Such a commitment would be crucial for gaining investor confidence.

According to World Nuclear News, the concept is that the components for the SMRs would be manufactured in sections in factories across the UK. They would then be taken to their construction sites where they would be quickly assembled within weatherproof canopies.

This approach would allow incremental efficiency savings through the use of standardized and streamlined manufacturing methods for the components. It would also reduce costs by preventing weather disrupting the assembly process. The SMRs would be assembled at existing nuclear sites.

Key UK Business Group Pushes for SMRs and Innovative Financing

The Confederation of Business & Industry (CBI) has weighed in on the need for small modular reactors as a way to replace the UK aging power stations of full size units. The CBI has also demanded progress on using a new way for financing large-scale developments.

At the launch of “The low-carbon 2020s: A decade of delivery” report, CBI director general Carolyn Fairbairn, said in a statement that the business organization believed a Regulated Asset Base (RAB) model “could be the answer” to replacing the UK’s ageing nuclear fleet. And she also called on the Government to identify sites for Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) and put in place regulatory processes to ensure the technology to be deployed by the 2030.

Ms Fairbairn said “We believe a RAB approach could be the answer — given its potential to reduce risks and costs for investors as well deliver better value to consumers and taxpayers.”

Meanwhile, the CBI report also calls for greater momentum behind SMRs, which it says have the “potential to be cost-effective, innovative contributors to the UK’s energy mix”.

A consultation by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on adapting the RAB model to fund new nuclear came to a close last month. The UK government has been considering it as more conventional financing methods haven’t produced agreements with global vendors to deliver multiple nuclear reactors for a fixed price.

Industry leaders in Cumbria think using the RAB method will resurrect the potential for a large-scale development to take place at the Moorside site adjacent to Sellafield, after NuGen’s plans for three reactors collapsed in November 2018. Since then plans for nuclear power stations at Wylfa Newydd, Anglesey and Oldbury, Gloucestershire, have also been shelved due to issues over financing them.

In fact, with the exception of Hinkley Point C, which will provide 3,200 Mwe, when complete in the mid-2020s, no other new nuclear project has broken ground in the UK this decade despite a need to build out at least 19 Gwe of nuclear power to replace declining yields from North Sea Oil & Gas and, of equal importance, to to meet decarbonization / climate change goals.

BWX Technologies Developing Microreactors
With Military Customers In Mind

(USNI) BWX Technologies is developing tractor trailer-sized micro nuclear reactors that could illuminate a small U.S. city, run a forward operating military base, power directed energy weapons or fuel deep-space missions.

BWX Technologies – the prime contractor building the reactors on the U.S. Navy’s nuclear-powered submarines and aircraft carriers – has for years devoted a portion of its earnings to fund microreactor research and development funding, Rex Geveden, chief executive of BWX, said during a conference call with analysts. Fiscal Year 2020 could be the year micro nuclear reactors move from proposal to reality.

The types of microreactors the military is interested in would generate 5-10 MWe of electricity and a similar amount of thermal power.

BWX Technologies is banking on the military and NASA seeing multiple uses for reactors that can be towed by a truck, loaded on a ship or launched into space. The company is also developing a fuel source that can power these microreactors.

The U.S. Army released a report a year ago detailing the possible uses of mobile nuclear power. The ideal is a power plant system that can fit inside a standard 40-foot shipping container, can be loaded onto a military transport plane or Navy ship, and can generate up to 20 megawatts of power for 10 years or longer without resupply, according to the report.

See prior coverage on this blogArmy RFI for SMRs Could be Boon for Commercial Developers

The Army report also suggests the use of tristructural-isotropic (TRISO) fuel, which is a series of tiny pellets packed into larger fuel assemblies for a reactor. Each TRISO fuel kernel is coated with layers of three isotropic materials that retain the fission products at high temperature while giving the TRISO particle significant structural integrity.

BWX Technologies announced on Oct. 2 it was restarting its existing TRISO nuclear fuel production line to “position the company to meet emergent client interests in Department of Defense microreactors, space reactors and civil advanced reactors.”

“The way we think about these new projects, the space and defense reactors and the fuel and the related work around that, we will as a company will spend some money on R&D to develop a new capability, new technology for these kinds of markets,” Geveden said.

Global Nuclear Fuel and X-energy Announce TRISO Fuel Collaboration

Global Nuclear Fuel (GNF) and X-energy announced a collaboration to produce low-cost, high-quality TRi-structural ISOtropic (TRISO) particle nuclear fuel.

The companies have signed a teaming agreement for the purpose of developing High-Assay Low-Enriched Uranium (HALEU) TRISO fuel to potentially supply the U.S. Department of Defense for micro-reactors and NASA for its nuclear thermal propulsion requirements.

See prior coverage on this blogTRISO Fuel Drives Global Development of Advanced Reactors

“TRISO is a robust fuel form well suited for military and space applications,” said Clay Sell, X-energy’s CEO.

“The extremely high and unnecessary cost of working with HALEU in a Category I NRC facility has, in the past, limited TRISO’s economic viability in the marketplace. Utilizing X-energy’s already operational state-of-the-art equipment in GNF’s licensed facility changes the dynamic for TRISO-fueled reactor deployment.”

By leveraging X-energy’s currently operating commercial-scale TRISO production equipment and GNF’s NRC-licensed fuel fabrication facility in Wilmington, North Carolina, the teaming arrangement is expected to produce TRISO fuel of significantly higher quality and at costs that are substantially lower than other potential manufacturers.

TRISO coated fuels start with a uranium kernel, which is coated with three layers of pyrolytic carbon and one layer of silicon carbide. These coatings encapsulate all product radionuclei under all operating conditions.

rriso fuel 2
X-energy is currently manufacturing TRISO particles at a pilot fuel facility located at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Centrus Finalizes Three Year Contract to Demonstrate HALEU Production

Centrus Energy Corp. (NYSE American: LEU) today announced the company has signed a three-year contract with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to deploy a cascade of centrifuges to demonstrate production of high-assay, low-enriched uranium (HALEU) fuel for advanced reactors.

The program has been underway since Centrus and DOE signed a preliminary letter agreement on May 31, 2019, which allowed work to begin while the full contract was still being signed off by all parties.

“Our partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy to develop and demonstrate a U.S. source of high-assay, low-enriched uranium will help America lead the transition to the next generation of advanced reactors,” said Daniel B. Poneman, president and CEO of Centrus.

Work under the contract will include licensing, constructing, assembling and operating AC100M centrifuge machines and related infrastructure in a cascade formation to produce HALEU at the American Centrifuge Plant in Piketon, Ohio, for the demonstration program.

HALEU is a component for advanced nuclear reactor fuel that is not commercially available today and may be required for a number of advanced reactor designs currently under development in both the commercial and government sectors.

Existing reactors typically operate on low-enriched uranium (LEU), with the uranium-235 isotope concentration just below 5 percent. HALEU has a uranium-235 isotope concentration of up to 20 percent, giving it several potential technical and economic advantages.

For example, the higher concentration of uranium means that fuel assemblies and reactors can be smaller and reactors will require less frequent refueling. Reactors can also achieve higher “burnup” rates, meaning a smaller volume of fuel will be required overall and less waste will be produced.

HALEU may also be used in the future to fabricate next-generation fuel forms for the existing fleet of reactors in the United States and around the world; these new HALEU-based fuels could bring improved economics and inherent safety features while increasing the amount of electricity that can be generated at existing reactors.

The lack of a U.S. source of HALEU is widely seen as an obstacle to U.S. leadership in the global market for advanced reactors. For example, in a 2017 survey of leading U.S. advanced reactor companies, 67 percent of companies responded that an assured supply of HALEU was either “urgent” or “important” to their company. The survey also showed that “the development of a U.S. supplier” was the most frequently cited concern with respect to HALEU.

INL Gets Green Lights for Spent Fuel R&D from State of Idaho
if Progress is Made with Long Delayed Cleanup of Nuclear Waste at the Site

greenlight_thumb.jpgIdaho Governor Brad Little and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden announced that the state of Idaho and the U.S. Department of Energy have reached an agreement establishing a pathway for small quantities of commercial spent nuclear fuel to come to Idaho National Laboratory for research.

This is a significant change since the State of Idaho had previously refused to allow the spent fuel in any quantity to come to the Idaho lab even for R&D purposes.

Under the framework, INL is granted a one-time waiver to receive 25 commercial power spent nuclear fuel rods – approximately 100 pounds of heavy metal – from the Byron Nuclear Generating Station in Illinois. Before this can occur, however, the Department of Energy must begin successfully treating sodium bearing liquid high level waste at INL by turning it into a safer dry, solid state.

Currently, the liquid waste sits in tanks directly above the Snake River Aquifer, while the Department of Energy works to resolve operational problems at the Integrated Waste Treatment Unit.

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The Department of Energy has also pledged to allocate at least 55 percent of all future transuranic waste shipments to New Mexico’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant facility to shipments originating at INL, and to give Idaho priority when additional shipments become available.

This allocation will remain in place until all transuranic waste has been shipped out of Idaho. To date, the Department of Energy has shipped more than 31,500 cubic meters of transuranic waste out of Idaho to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

In exchange for the one-time shipment, the Department of Energy also agreed to remove at least 300 pounds of special nuclear material from Idaho by the end of 2021, and agreed to treat at least 165 pounds of Sodium Bonded EBR II Driver Fuel Pins each year until all pins have been treated – no later than the end of 2028.

A second part of the agreement provides that once the Department of Energy has produced 100 canisters of the dry, treated sodium-bearing high level waste, INL may receive additional research quantities of spent nuclear fuel, per a 2011 Memorandum of Agreement between the Department of Energy and the State of Idaho. This can only occur, though, if the high-level waste treatment process is ongoing and the Department of Energy is not in breach of any terms of the 1995 Settlement Agreement.

The agreement only allows commercial spent nuclear fuel to be sent to INL in research quantities and does not allow for the Department of Energy to bring any other type of fuel to Idaho for storage purposes. Any commercial research fuel brought to INL is subject to language in the original 1995 agreement that requires all Department of Energy spent nuclear fuel to be shipped out of Idaho by 2035. The cap on all Department of Energy nuclear waste in Idaho established in the 1995 Settlement Agreement also remains in place.

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Posted in Nuclear | 4 Comments

Be an Advocate for Nuclear Energy ~ Here’s Where to Start

Don’t just sit there – do something!

green_earth_nuclear_atom-1.jpgThe pressing issues of climate change and the need to decarbonize our highly technological societies have led to many people toward thinking that the CO2 emission free nature of nuclear power is one of the answers, along with renewable energy technologies like solar and wind.

People who are just starting to realize that the planet might be in peril, in fact it is, next ask, “well who is telling the story about nuclear energy and doing something about it?”

As it turns out there are a lot of people who are doing just that. To that end here is a short list, not meant to be all inclusive, that is provided for your use so that you have a place to start. This list is intended to be a starting point of organizations which have a demonstrated track record of doing useful work and are accessible via their websites.

The brief list here is divided into four general groups which are more or less arbitrary and there is no small amount of overlap among them in terms of what each one of them does. The names of the groups are more or less self-explanatory.

So what do these groups do?

  • Some provide information to elected officials, lobby legislative bodies, and seek commitments from governments and business to develop new nuclear power plants and technologies and to extend the lives of the ones we already have.  
  • Some groups are thought and opinion leaders, but don’t lobby, but their influence is widely felt.
  • At the grass roots level some groups knock on doors, hand out information packets, and urge people to get involved in the issue. 

Depending on your preferred method of getting involved in the issue, here is a list of places to begin. This isn’t a complete list but you don’t need a “complete” list. You just need a jumping off point. All of them have value. The important thing is to get started.

Included below is the name of each organization, a link to its home page, and a brief statement of purpose from the group’s web site. Note that some of the “about” statements are edited for space.

Large Non-governmental Organizations

Amerian Nuclear Society – The American Nuclear Society is a professional organization of engineers and scientists devoted to peaceful and beneficial applications of nuclear science and technology. Its members come from diverse technical backgrounds covering the full range of engineering disciplines as well as the physical and biological sciences within the nuclear field.

Nuclear Energy Institute – The Nuclear Energy Institute is the policy organization of the nuclear technologies industry based in Washington, D.C. NEI has hundreds of members and, with their involvement, develops policy on key legislative and regulatory issues affecting the industry.

U.S. Nuclear Infrastructure Council – The United States Nuclear Industry Council (USNIC) is a U.S. business consortium advocate for nuclear energy and promotion of the American supply chain globally. Composed of over 80 firms, USNIC represents the “Who’s Who” of the nuclear supply chain community, including key utility movers, technology developers, construction engineers, manufacturers and service providers.

FORATOM – (the European Atomic Forum) is the Brussels-based trade association for the nuclear energy industry in Europe. Its main purpose is to promote the use of nuclear power in Europe. The membership of FORATOM is made up of 15 national nuclear associations representing nearly 3,000 firms.

U.S. Think Tanks and Thought / Opinion Leaders

Breakthrough Institute – Since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan and Fukushima nuclear accident, Breakthrough’s energy work has focused heavily on the future of nuclear energy. Along with a growing cohort of scientists, journalists, philanthropists, and environmentalists, we have made the case that addressing climate change will require abundant, cheap, safe, and reliable nuclear energy. Toward that end, Breakthrough has been a leading advocate for innovation in advanced nuclear designs and business models.

Clean Air Task Force – CATF aims to make nuclear energy a viable option for decarbonizing the world energy system at needed scale and speed. We catalyze private sector and government activity to lower the cost and deployment speed of current nuclear technology.

Energy For Humanity – Energy for Humanity is a UK-and Switzerland-based non-profit organisation with a global outlook focused on solving climate change and enabling universal access to modern energy services. Energy for Humanity strongly advocates for evidence-based, whole-system, and technology-inclusive solutions in pursuit of the best (fastest, most cost-effective, most feasible) outcomes for people and nature. Our goal is to address these themes and to inspire meaningful action.

Partnership for Global Security – The Partnership for Global Security (PGS) is a recognized international leader and innovator in the nuclear and transnational security policy area. It provides actionable responses to 21st century security challenges by engaging international, private sector, and multidisciplinary expert partners to assess policy needs, identify effective strategies, and drive demonstrable results.

Third Way – Advanced Nuclear Energy Programs – Our team designs and advocates for policies that will drive innovation and deployment of clean energy technologies, and deliver the emissions cuts we need to win the fight against climate change. The more low-carbon options we have to work with, the better our chances of success.

Fastest Path to Zero Initiative – We are an interdisciplinary team of experts, including University of Michigan staff and students, working to support communities as they plan and pursue ambitious climate goals. We offer a variety of tools to help communities transform their energy systems while adapting to a changing climate. Our tool belt includes big data analytics combined with a passion for human-centered design and engagement. We specialize in working at the intersection of NGOs and academia.

U.S. Grass Roots Activism

Californians for Green Nuclear Power – Californians for Green Nuclear Power, Inc. is dedicated to promoting the peaceful use of safe, carbon-free nuclear power, and to keeping Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant open, so it can continue in its important role of generating clean energy for the benefit of California’s economy.

Environmental Progress – Environmental Progress (EP) is a research and policy organization fighting for clean power and energy justice to achieve nature and prosperity for all.

Generation Atomic – Our Mission: To energize and empower today’s generations to advocate for a nuclear future. Gen A works to cultivate relationships with business leaders, pro-nuclear donors, and grassroots advocates. By engaging stakeholders at all levels, Gen A is working together with many partners to create a loud, effective, and sustainable pro-nuclear constituency.

Mothers for Nuclear – We are mothers who used to be skeptical about nuclear energy, but now believe it is essential to protect our children from pollution, our landscapes from sprawl, and future generations from global warming.

Thorium Energy Alliance – We are a nonprofit group composed of engineers, scientists, and concerned citizens interested  in creating a working Thorium powered reactor. It is one of T.E.A.s goals to restart a Homogeneous Fuels Research Reactor program and commercialize the Molten Salt Reactor and the supply chain infrastructure behind it.

U.S. Special Interest Groups

Millennial Nuclear Caucus – The Millennial Nuclear Caucuses bring together the next generation of innovative leaders through a series of events that feature discussions on the path forward for the nuclear industry and the role innovative technology will play. Participants at the events represent the full spectrum of the nuclear field, including young leaders supporting the existing fleet, those designing small modular and advanced reactors, and those advocating for a thriving nuclear future.

North American Young Generation in Nuclear – Our Vision – Developing leaders to energize the future of nuclear. Our Mission – NAYGN provides opportunities for a young generation of nuclear enthusiasts to develop leadership and professional skills, create life-long connections, engage and inform the public, and inspire today’s nuclear technology professionals to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

Women in Nuclear – Positioning the United States for the future of nuclear energy and technology through the advancement of women. Create professional development and networking opportunities for career advancement. Enhance understanding and awareness of the value of nuclear energy and technology.

For really complete lists of organizations and people involved in advocacy for nuclear energy, this wide ranging page on Wikipedia is helpful and perhaps overwhelming hence this “getting started” blog post.

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Posted in Nuclear | 1 Comment