- Molten Salt Reactor to Be Built at the Idaho Lab
- Czech Gov’t to Release Tender for a PWR at Dukovany
- NuScale Inks MOU with Wisconsin Coop
- Oklo Inks $4.5M Deal with Argonne lab
- Blue Wave AI Labs and Constellation Invest in AI Software
- Ghana / Site For First Commercial Nuclear Reactor Will Be Chosen Soon
- Kenya Seeks Public Views on 4000MWe Nuclear Power Project
Note to Readers: All updates on nuclear energy matters in Ukraine are on Twitter via @djysrv
Molten Salt Reactor to Be Built at the Idaho Lab
TerraPower and Southern Company announced they have agreed to demonstrate the world’s first fast-spectrum salt reactor at Idaho National Laboratory. The Molten Chloride Reactor Experiment will provide crucial operational data for fast-spectrum salt reactors and unlock this uniquely flexible advanced reactor technology for use in a net-zero future.
The Molten Chloride Reactor Experiment will be the world’s first fast-spectrum, salt-fueled nuclear fission reactor to go critical.
Selected for funding under the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP), the MCRE project will advance TerraPower’s Molten Chloride Fast Reactor (MCFR).
Southern Company research and development will lead the effort in a collaboration that includes TerraPower, INL, CORE POWER, Orano Federal Services, the Electric Power Research Institute and 3M Company.
The team’s ongoing alliance with DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy through the ARDP is essential for delivering this key technology and will be supported by a five-year, $170 million cost-shared funding agreement.
According to the press statement, the MCRE project “represents a significant inflection point in the technology demonstration roadmap for TerraPower’s MCFR,” as the project will inform the design, licensing and operation of an MCFR demonstration reactor. MCRE is targeted for operation at INL.
The MCRE project will not generate electricity, but it will operate at a power of up to 500 kilowatts and demonstrate key physics performance important to the broader MCFR program. As a research reactor it will have a different licensing profile than a reactor intended to be deployed for electrical power generation.
An environmental review will be completed for the MCRE project in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act before final design and construction begins. MCRE’s first criticality is scheduled for late 2025.
“TerraPower is eager to continue its partnership with Southern Company – an established energy company that offers a crucial perspective and expertise to further position our Molten Chloride Fast Reactor technology for success,” said Chris Levesque, TerraPower’s president and CEO.
“Southern Company is honored to work with DOE, TerraPower, INL and our other team members to advance next-generation nuclear as part of a comprehensive strategy to deliver clean, safe, reliable, affordable energy to the customers and communities we serve,” said Dr. Mark S. Berry, Southern Company vice president of R&D.
TerraPower’s MCFR technology offers many performance and economic benefits including flexible, highly efficient clean power generation as a complement to the increased use of intermittent renewables on the grid. The MCFR technology also has the potential to provide carbon-free, high-grade process heat and thermal storage for difficult-to-decarbonize industrial markets and ocean transportation sectors.
Through a public-private partnership that was initiated in 2015, Southern Company and TerraPower joined DOE and others in the nearly $80 million project building integrated infrastructure necessary to support early development of the MCFR technology.
Prior Coverage on this blog
Czech Gov’t to Release Tender for a PWR at Dukovany
Prime Minister Petr Fiala said in an interview with Czech Television the government will publish a planned tender to build a multi billion-dollar nuclear power unit at CEZ’s Dukovany plant in the coming weeks.
The Czech government will call a planned tender to build a multi billion-dollar nuclear power unit, slated to be in the range of 1200 MWe, at CEZ’s Dukovany plant. Prime Minister Petr Fiala said in an interview with Czech Television on Sunday.
United States, France’s EDF and South Korea’s KHNP are expected bidders. Russia and China have been excluded from bidding on security grounds.
Czech authorities dropped Russia from the tender, estimated to be worth at least 6 billion euros ($6.79 billion), in April last year amid a heated diplomatic dispute with Moscow over a deadly blast at an arms depot in 2014. Russia denied involvement but the arms were intended to be shipped to Ukraine and the Czech government charged Russia with accountability for the blast.
Fiala said under tender plans, a supplier for the new Dukovany unit could be picked in 2024 and construction permits obtained by 2029. He said it was necessary to commission the unit by 2036. Nuclear power is an important energy source in the Czech Republic, accounting for 40% of its energy mix. The new unit is meant to replace facilities set to retire in the coming decades.
The project is to be backed by state zero-interest loans, as well as state-guaranteed power purchases at profit for CEZ, which is 70% owned by the state. The country won some tweaks to the inclusion of nuclear power projects in the European Union’s hotly debated green investment plans this month as it waited to go ahead with the Dukovany project.
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NuScale Inks MOU with Wisconsin Coop
NuScale and Dairyland Power Cooperative announced collaboration to explore the deployment of NuScale’s SMR. Headquartered in La Crosse, Wisconsin, Dairyland is a generation and transmission cooperative providing the wholesale electrical requirements for distribution cooperatives and 17 municipal utilities, supplying the energy for more than a half-million people in four states (Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois).
Under this MOU, the two parties will work together to explore NuScale’s small modular reactor technology and support Dairyland’s due diligence process in evaluating affordable, reliable and carbon-free energy solutions.
In support of Dairyland’s existing portfolio, NuScale’s SMRs are positioned as being flexible and able to perform load following maneuvers to meet grid capacity needs due to the intermittency of wind, solar, and hydro generation, facilitating the growth of renewables.
Additionally, NuScale’s technology is particularly well-suited for placement at retiring coal plant sites, preserving critical jobs in the energy industry and helping host communities facilitate the transition to a decarbonized energy system.
“NuScale is thrilled to partner with an environmentally-focused, forward-thinking organization like Dairyland,” said John Hopkins, NuScale Power President and Chief Executive Officer.
“Dairyland is examining carbon-free power supply technologies including NuScale’s small modular reactor nuclear plants,” said Brent Ridge, Dairyland President and CEO.
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Oklo Inks $4.5M Deal with Argonne lab
Oklo and Argonne were awarded a $4.5 million project from the U.S. Department of Energy Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) to develop advanced safeguards and security monitoring technology to support the commercialization of fuel recycling.
Oklo will partner with Argonne to develop advanced sensor technologies that will enable high-fidelity material accounting. The sensors will be paired with machine learning to enhance facility-wide anomaly detection.
These advanced technologies will enhance safeguards and security while also improving process efficiency, which will support the commercialization and licensing of safe and secure fuel recycling facilities.
“Oklo is excited to have been selected for this competitive award that incentivizes innovation and early-movers,” said Jacob DeWitte, co-founder and CEO of Oklo.
“Oklo is proud to be partnering with experts at Argonne, who have successfully demonstrated fuel recycling technologies,” said John Hanson, Director of Special Projects at Oklo.
“By developing advanced sensor technology and integrating sensor measurements throughout the fuel recycling facility, the entire electrorefining process will be made more secure and efficient. Ultimately, this will significantly reduce the cost of fuel,” added Hanson.
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Blue Wave AI Labs and Constellation Invest in AI Software
Blue Wave will help Constellation reduce nuclear operating and fuel costs far into the future. Blue Wave AI Labs has signed an agreement with Constellation to supply its products in support of Constellation’s nuclear fuel reload design and cycle management processes for the company’s entire fleet of boiling water reactors. The long-term agreement covers Blue Wave’s cloud-based Nuclear-AI Platform components: Eigenvalue and MCO.ai forecasting products.
These services will enable Constellation to design and operate more energy-efficient and cost-effective nuclear fuel cycles with potential savings of millions of dollars in fuel costs annually. Additional benefits such as asset protection (e.g., turbine blades) and improved efficiency of electric output can be realized.
The agreement between Blue Wave and Constellation marks the start of a new era of AI integration in nuclear fuel design and management.
At the recent NEI 2021 Annual Meeting, the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) jointly recognized Constellation and Blue Wave AI Labs with a Top Innovation Practice (TIP) award for “Moisture Carryover (MCO) Predictions through Neural Networks.” The prestigious award in the nuclear fuel category recognizes creative ideas that have substantial impact on improving the safety and reliability of nuclear energy.
“Constellation has worked with Blue Wave over the last four years to unlock powerful new capabilities with Machine Learning which allows us to reach new levels in nuclear fuel cycle planning and efficiency,” said Jason Murphy, Vice President for Nuclear Fuels at Constellation.
“This can lead to reduced fuel costs and insights into core design and cycle management as new fuel strategies are introduced. This AI-based solution allows new levels of design and operational control, enabling increased clean energy availability for our customers and the communities where we operate.”
Previously known as Exelon Generation, Constellation is the nation’s largest producer of carbon-free energy and leading supplier of sustainable solutions to millions of residential, public sector and business customers, including three fourths of Fortune 100 companies. Its generation fleet powers more than 20 million homes and businesses and is helping to accelerate the nation’s transition to clean energy with more than 32,400 megawatts of capacity and annual output that is nearly 90 percent carbon-free.
Blue Wave AI Labs
Founded in 2016 and located in West Lafayette, Indiana, Blue Wave AI Labs is an AI-centric but industry-focused technology company that employs innovative AI-based techniques to identify, analyze, and solve problems within the energy, aerospace, and defense industries.
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Ghana / Site For First Commercial Nuclear Reactor Will Be Chosen ‘By End Of Year’
(NucNet) Nuclear Power Ghana (NPG) said it will choose a preferred site for the country’s first commercial nuclear power station by the end of this year. The African country hopes plant will begin operation by 2030,
NPG, a limited liability company with a mandate to lead the construction and operation of the proposed nuclear station, has identified four candidate sites for the project, according to press reports in the west African country.
NPG executive director Stephen Yamoah said the body is analyzing historical data on the four identified sites. He said NPG would produce a site approval report which would be submitted to the regulator for review.
“We have received a host of historical data from over 12 institutions on issues such as seismology and issues of flooding,” he said. “We have received information from the Ghana Statistical Service in terms of population and projected population growth.
“All these are criteria that we factor into the site selection because the nuclear power plant will not be built in a populated area, so we need to know the present population and the projected,” Mr Yamoah said.
In October 2019, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Ghana had made progress implementing recommendations of a 2017 IAEA integrated nuclear infrastructure review (INIR) mission. That review had provided 12 recommendations and eight suggestions to help Ghana in making progress in its nuclear infrastructure development.
However, the IAEA said more recently that further work was needed in areas such as government funding, stakeholder involvement planning, fuel cycle options for the first nuclear power plant and goals for local participation.
In October 2021, press reports said five nuclear reactor vendors had responded to a request for interest issued by Ghana to collaborate with the African country in its planned nuclear power program. The reports, quoting an environment ministry official, did not name any companies, but said the vendors were from the US, Russia, Canada and South Korea.
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Kenya Seeks Public Views on 4000MWe Nuclear Power Project
Kenya’s Nuclear Power and Energy Agency (NuPEA) is seeking public views on a nuclear power project that will be set up in Kwale or Kilifi. The move follows a decision last year, now apparently reversed, to zero out any government spending on new nuclear power plants.
According to NuPEA Head of Legal Services Justus Wabuyabo, the government has identified Kwale and Kilifi as the most preferred sites for the nuclear power station due to their less likelihood of suffering earthquakes.
An environmental impact assessment (EIA) will also be conducted in the proposed location to determine the viability of the $5 billion (Sh575 billion) nuclear plant.
NuPEA expects four reactors of 4,000MWe to be on site by 2035. The aggressive schedule and enormous cost of the project are well beyond Kenya’s means which raises the question of why it is setting these milestones.
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