UAMPS Inks Term Sheet for Xcel Energy to Run Idaho SMR

  • UAMPS Inks Term Sheet for Xcel Energy to Run Idaho SMR
  • Ultra Safe Nuclear Launches TRISO Fuel Plant at Oak Ridge
  • Bulgaria Starts Talks with Greece for New Nuclear Plant
  • Philippines Energy Minister Seeks SMR MOU with US
  • X-Energy Prototype SMR Safety System Ready for Field Testing
  • Paragon Energy Solutions Inks Join Effort with Reuter-Stokes
  • ANS Warns Against Sharing Nuclear Misinformation on Ukraine

UAMPS Inks Term Sheet for Xcel Energy to Run Idaho SMR

clip_image002Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) and Xcel Energy Nuclear Services Holdings have entered into a Term Sheet agreement outlining a process, roles and next steps that would be taken if Xcel Energy were to become a potential operator of the Carbon Free Power Project (CFPP) being developed by UAMPS.

The UAMPS/Xcel Energy term sheet commits both parties to work toward a potential Maintenance and Operating (M&O) contract in mid-2022, with Xcel Energy providing a variety of operating services that could include direct operations.

The Term Sheet outlines tasks and items that will be further negotiated, developed, refined and agreed upon to be included in the final scope of work and services that would be performed by Xcel Energy in the long-term M&O contract, provided the contract is finalized.

Under the Term Sheet, Xcel Energy would support UAMPS and other parties with Nuclear Regulatory Commission review and approval of the Combined License Application, and provide numerous pre-operation services, including serving as a key consultant on the design and construction of the plant.

Xcel Energy would be responsible for refining operating cost estimates as well as developing an operational and governance model, quality assurance, training, emergency planning, human resources and security programs.

“We are pleased to take this step forward with Xcel Energy to explore a significant partnership,” said UAMPS CEO & General Manager Doug Hunter. “Xcel Energy has impressive experience with all elements of nuclear plant development and management. We look forward to additional due diligence as outlined in the Term Sheet.”

The CFPP will be an electric generating plant utilizing small modular nuclear reactor modules manufactured by NuScale Power of Portland, Oregon. It is proposed to be located at the Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory near Idaho Falls. The CFPP development and construction schedule anticipates the full plant being commercially operational in 2030.

Xcel Energy is an experienced nuclear plant operator and has signed a memorandum of understanding outlining a Teaming Agreement with NuScale Power to explore becoming a preferred plant operator for future NuScale VOYGR small modular reactor plants. CFPP would be the first such plant.

“As the first major energy provider to announce a vision to provide customers with 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050, we understand the need for new technologies to achieve this vision,” said Tim O’Connor, executive vice president and chief operations officer, Xcel Energy.

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Ultra Safe Nuclear Launches TRISO Fuel Plant at Oak Ridge

Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation will build a new Pilot Fuel Manufacturing (PFM) operation in Oak Ridge, Tenn. The facility is located on the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP), site of Manhattan Project’s K-25 gaseous diffusion plant.

USNC purchased the 8.7-acre site with a pre-existing industrial building from Heritage Center LLC in 2021. The new facility is in proximity to the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and the DOE National Nuclear Security Administration’s Y-12 National Security Complex, and will leverage the region’s specialized workforce and its unique collection of organizations working on advanced nuclear-fuel solutions.

USNC plans to commission and operate the production-scale modules involved in manufacturing of TRISO coated fuel particles and its proprietary Fully Ceramic Micro-encapsulated (FCM) fuel.

The PFM facility is targeted to initiate operations in the summer of 2022, upon receipt of state and local permits. The PFM facility will be able to process feedstock uranium powder into TRISO fuel particles and subsequently produce FCM fuel in multiple kilogram quantities.

This PFM facility will codify and demonstrate its manufacturing modules, enabling USNC’s advanced fuel factory licensing and scalable deployment of its fuel-production capability. The individual manufacturing modules, once fully codified and demonstrated, will be deployed into new production facilities to meet the demand for fueling USNC’s Micro Modular Reactor (MMRTM) and other advanced terrestrial and space energy systems.

The manufacturing modules and technologies that USNC is deploying at the PFM facility are based on smaller scale systems and processes originally developed under various DOE programs, especially at ORNL. One of these technologies, a 3D-printing process for manufacturing refractory ceramic carbides, was recently licensed by USNC from ORNL.

The proximity to and strong cooperation with ORNL continue to be instrumental in USNC’s efforts to commercialize these technologies and establish a cost-effective advanced nuclear fuel supply chain. Adjacent to the pilot facility is the Y-12 National Security Complex, offering key resources and expertise that will be essential in facilitating uranium processing operations at USNC.

Privately funded, American-owned and controlled USNC has invested more than $12M to date into the PFM facility with more to follow. USNC’s growing presence in Oak Ridge will create more than 30 highly skilled jobs within the first two years of operation.

“The investment of USNC in the PFM facility and other advanced manufacture facilities in the U.S. indicates that the commercialization of our micro modular reactor is imminent,” stated USNC’s CEO, Francesco Venneri.

“We’re reaching a key point in the evolution of the MMR, with a well-developed technology, the responsive engagement with regulators, and the demand from customers in multiple regions, where a firm commitment to establish a strong manufacturing base is warranted. The PFM facility is one extremely important step we are taking in this direction.”

Siting USNC’s pilot fuel manufacturing facility at the ETTP site highlights the success of the re-industrialization program that was launched in the 1990s by the DOE and the Oak Ridge community. These efforts to clean-up and reuse former Manhattan Project sites and facilities have made available ideal brownfield industrial sites that USNC is now able to productively utilize as it works to deliver and fuel its advanced nuclear energy modules.

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Bulgaria Starts Talks with Greece for New Nuclear Plant

(Euractv) (NucNet) Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Asen Vassilev announced this week that Bulgaria has begun talks with Athens on building a new nuclear power plant on Bulgarian territory to be used by Greece under a long-term 20-year contract. According to Mr Vasilev, Greece is to buy electricity from the proposed plant under a 20-year fixed contract.

Bulgaria has two Russian nuclear reactors, which were ordered and partially built but remain unfinished. The new Bulgarian government has signalled it is ready to build a new nuclear reactor at the existing Kozloduy power plant. The news, announced by the deputy prime minister, means that with the help of Greece, the prospect exists to revive plans for a second nuclear power plant near Belene.

Vassilev also said that Bulgaria will become a shareholder in the port of Alexandroupoli and will have access to the Aegean Sea. The country currently has a stake in the liquefied gas terminal in Alexandroupolis.

“Bulgaria has plans and preparations to prevent an energy crisis,” Vassilev said. He said that two weeks ago the government knew that there would be a war in Ukraine.

Bulgaria has two Russia-made VVER-1000 pressurised water reactor units in commercial operation at Kozloduy on the Danube River. The two plants, inherited from the socialist era, provide about a third of the country’s electricity.

The bulk of Greece’s electricity is generated from natural gas, followed by renewables, but the country also traditionally imports electricity from Bulgaria.

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Philippines Energy Minister Seeks SMR MOU with US

Philippines Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi told the local press he has confirmed his plans to travel to the United States to set a Nuclear Power MOU in place. He added that American companies can funnel their capital primarily into the renewable energy (RE) sector and help jumpstart the revival of the country’s nuclear ambitions. He expressed particular interest in small modular reactors (SMRs).

He said that small as SMRs are, they offer a far safer option compared to more robust, traditional nuclear power reactors.

“It’s no accident that in a world increasingly moving towards clean energy, the adoption of these small-version nuclear reactors has increased. More and more countries and businesses have opted for SMRs for the conveniences they offer.”

“Top of the list is these small reactors don’t cost as much. Plus, they are easier to build,” he reportedly said in the media briefing.

Separately, World Nuclear News reported that President Rodrigo Duterte has signed an executive order that outlines the government’s position for the inclusion of nuclear energy in the Philippines’ energy mix, taking into account economic, political, social and environmental objectives.

It says the government sees nuclear energy as “a viable component to bridge the gap between rising energy demand and supply,” as well as a driver for economic growth. It also recognizes nuclear energy’s role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Government ministries will ensure that the necessary legal and regulatory framework is in place to support the Nuclear Energy Program. The agencies must also assess, review and develop a national nuclear power infrastructure using the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Milestones Approach, a comprehensive method to assist countries that are considering or planning their first nuclear power plant which splits the activities necessary to establish the infrastructure for a nuclear power program into three progressive phases of development.

Review of Bataan Nuclear Power Plant

The executive order also calls for further studies and make recommendations on the use and viability of the Bataan nuclear power plant and the establishment of other facilities for the utilization of nuclear energy.

In response to the 1973 oil crisis, the Philippines decided to build the two-unit Bataan plant. Construction of Bataan 1 – a 621 MWe Westinghouse pressurized water reactor – began in 1976 and it was completed in 1984 at a cost of USD460 million. However, due to financial issues and safety concerns related to earthquakes, the plant was never loaded with fuel or operated. The plant has since been maintained in a safe configuration.

According to press reports the Philippines is in talks with Russia, South Korea and the USA on the use of small modular reactor (SMR) technology.

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X-Energy Prototype SMR Safety System Ready for Field Testing

The Reactor Protection System (RPS) is a set of independent and redundant safety and security components that enables the automatic and safe shut down of a nuclear reactor. For the Xe-100, a fourth-generation small modular reactor (SMR), the system provides an added layer of protection for the plant and its environment.

With a design simpler than those used in reactors of previous generations, the Xe-100 RPS uses the Highly Integrated Protection System (HIPS) platform, which is based on Field Programmable Gate Array (FGPA) technology. The HIPS platform was developed by Rock Creek Innovations and is approved by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for safety-related applications.

This first delivery of the prototype enables field testing, validation and optimization, the results of which will be built into the final Xe-100 RPS design.

Over the course of two years, X-energy worked in close collaboration with Rock Creek Innovations, a US-based company specializing in the design of safety critical systems, to develop the prototype. This first set of prototype equipment is tagged for installation at X-energy’s Mock-up Control Room in Rockville, Maryland.

“We’ve modeled how the system would behave in a plant simulator; now we can see how it behaves in real life,” said Shawn Hanvy, Digital Instrumentation and Control Engineer at X-energy.

“The RPS design is an interactive and iterative process that will evolve over time. Unlike typical computer-based protection systems, it won’t use any software or microprocessors to operate, relying solely on simple and fixed logic that cannot be changed while in operation. The reduced complexity of the design lowers costs while increasing plant safety and security.”

“We’re proud to provide this first set of reactor protection prototype equipment to X-energy early in the design development process,” said Jason Pottorf, Engineering Manager at Rock Creek Innovations.

“This will help ensure the system functions as intended, supports the regulator’s understanding of the design, and allows X-energy to begin developing the associated operator training.”

The Xe-100 design is built on more than six decades of High-Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactor (HTGR) operation, research, and development. Engineered to operate as single units of 80 MWe or as a four-unit plant delivering 320 MWe, the reactor can provide clean, reliable and safe baseload power to an electricity system on a small footprint and with minimal water use.

In 2020, the DOE selected X-energy under its ARDP to deliver a four-module Xe-100 plant and a commercial TRISO fuel fabrication facility. X-energy aims to site the Xe-100 plant in Washington state as early as 2027, making it the first operational grid-scale SMR plant in North America.

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Paragon Energy Solutions and Reuter-Stokes Join Forces to Service the Nuclear Market

Paragon Energy Solutions, a company focused on providing safety-related parts and components to the nuclear industry, has signed a teaming agreement with Reuter-Stokes, a Baker Hughes business. The agreement encompasses joint marketing and project development and execution in the growing nuclear small modular reactor (SMR) and advanced reactor markets.

Paragon’s safety-related digital and analog signal processing solutions will pair with Reuter-Stokes’ nuclear-detection technology to provide a holistic nuclear instrumentation solution that is also more efficient and comprehensive. To provide the best design for each client, the technology can be customized to a user’s specific application.

“Our partnership with Paragon is an example of how, investing for growth, we’re strengthening our customer proposition, supporting the nuclear industry’s latest clean energy technology, and helping to extend our footprint across the sector,” said Rod Martinez, vice president of Reuter-Stokes.

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American Nuclear Society Warns Against Sharing Nuclear Misinformation on Ukraine

Statement from American Nuclear Society President Steven Nesbit and Executive Director and CEO Craig Piercy:

“The American Nuclear Society warns that the dissemination of nuclear-related misinformation could be damaging and counterproductive to Ukraine’s efforts to repel and cope with the Russian invasion.

ANS calls on all those who present themselves as ‘nuclear experts’ in the public eye to avoid speculating or sharing information about worst-case scenarios without providing technically grounded explanations of the procedures and safeguards in place to address operational threats and protect the public.

We urge all interested parties to consult the website of the International Atomic Energy Agency for up-to-date information.”

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About djysrv

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