Nuclear News Roundup for August 13, 2018

China’s Haiyang-1 AP1000 Reaches First Criticality

(NucNet): The Haiyang-1 Generation III+ Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear reactor unit in Shandong province reached first criticality on August 8th according to a statement from the China State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation (SNPTC).

Haiyang-1, construction of which began in September 2009, becomes the world’s second AP1000 to reach first criticality after Sanmen-1  last June.

SNPTC said a series of low-power tests will now be carried out before the unit is connected to the grid and starts producing electrical power.

There are four AP1000 nuclear units under construction in China – two at Sanmen and two at Haiyang.

Fuel Loading Begins At China’s Haiyang-2 AP1000

(NucNet): The loading of nuclear fuel at China’s Haiyang-2 nuclear unit under construction in Shandong province began onm August 8th according to a statement from the China State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation (SNPTC).

Haiyang-2 is a Westinghouse Generation III+ AP1000 pressurized water reactor. Construction began in June 2010.

Southern Nuclear Says Its Share Of Vogtle Costs
Has Increased By $1.1 Billion

(NucNet): Southern Nuclear has made significant progress on construction of the Vogtle-3 and -4 nuclear power plants since assuming project management on behalf of the co-owners, but

Capital and construction cost forecast for Southern Nuclear’s share of the Vogtle project have increased from $7.3bn to $8.4bn, Georgia Power said on August 9th.

Southern Company, the parent company of both Georgia Power and Southern Nuclear, will absorb the $1.1bn in additional costs.

The increased costs are the result of incentives to attract and retain staff, and increased field supervision and engineering oversight, Georgia Power said. The firm said it has had problems attracting skill trades to work on the site hence the wage increases to provide the necessary incentives to workers. More than 7,000 workers are onsite working to complete the new units, Georgia Power said.

The costs include $700m in additional subcontractor costs and an additional construction contingency estimate for the two units, a statement said. The project is about two-thirds complete according to the latest estimate.

The co-owners of the project to build two Westinghouse AP1000 reactor units are Georgia Power, Oglethorpe Power, MEAG Power and Dalton Utilities. Southern Nuclear, which operates nuclear plants for Georgia Power, took over project management from Westinghouse following its bankruptcy in 2017. That firm has recently emerged from bankruptcy being now owned by a private equity firm based on Canada.

Bond Holders to Vote on Cost Increase

The cost increases will require that the private and public utility owners vote on whether to continue the work at Plant Vogtle.

In a statement the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia, which owns 23% of the project, said in notice on the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board’s EMMA filing system;

“As a result of the increase in the total project capital cost forecast and GPC’s decision not to seek rate recovery of its allocation of the increase in the base capital costs, the holders of at least 90% of the ownership interests in Vogtle Units 3 and 4 must vote to continue construction,”

Georgia Power said Vogtle-3 is expected to begin commercial operation in November 2021 and Vogtle-4 in November 2022.

Czech PM Calls for CEZ Nuclear Plant Decision

(Reuters): Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis wants a decision by the end of 2018 on financing majority state-owned utility CEZ’s multi-billion dollar nuclear power expansion.

In the past CEZ has refused to invest in new plants without some form of state support, including guaranteed rates. Separately, it has proposed spinning off its renewables and energy services businesses to investors, leaving traditional sources like coal and nuclear in state hands.

The licenses for Dukovany’s reactors expire in 2035. PM Babis told Reuters in an interview that this means work on replacement reactors need to speed up regardless of the debates over whether to split up central Europe’s largest listed utility to pay for the work.

He told Reuters, “We have to start moving fast as of September. Let’s hope a decision will be made by Christmas.”

Babis says CEZ is big enough to build the new nuclear units without being split up and reiterated that a CEZ subsidiary should be the main vehicle to build the new reactors.

In order to build a new reactor at the Dukovany nuclear power plant, about 33 miles north of the Austrian border, which will replace a Soviet-era reactor, CEZ must convince the EU in Brussels to exempt the project from strict rules on government bids.

The alternative for the Czech government is to ink a deal with Russia along the same lines as Hungary, which signed with Moscow last year. Russia will be only too happy to do the deal since it regards the Czech Republic as a “captive market.”

The EU Commission approved Hungary’s Paks II nuclear project last year following long and contentious negotiations . The decision was criticized by Austria and Germany for  appealing to political interests over technical merits and is now being challenged by Austria for breaching EU state aid rules.

Austria and another Czech neighbor, Germany, strongly oppose any expansion of nuclear power in Europe.

Temelin Looks at Plan to Operate for 60 Years

CEZ says it sees no obstacle in the Temelín nuclear power plant operating for 60 years. The state-controlled power company said a technical and economic investigation found no fundamental safety or technical reason why the first reactor could not operate until 2060 and the second unit until 2062. The plant in South Bohemia, around 30 miles from the Austrian border, is the biggest single electricity producer in the Czech Republic.

The head of the Czech nuclear regulator, Dana Drábová, warned earlier this year that while there might not be technical problems with a 60-year operating life span for Temelín, stricter EU rules pushed by non-nuclear member states might make this impossible.

Politico reported last May that the Czech Republic may be at loggerheads with the European Commission, and its anti-nuclear neighbors, over its ambitions to expand nuclear power. CEZ, the state owned power utility, has proposed new reactor units for the Temelin site.

CEZ cancelled a tender for Temelin’s expansion in 2014 after the previous government, which included Babis as finance minister, refused to guarantee the price of electricity produced in the new reactors.  Bidders at the time were Westinghouse, Rosatom, and Areva. In a controversial move, CEZ rejected Areva’s offer over what it said were discrepancies in the French firm’s bid.

Fuqing 5, a Hualong One,
Enters System Commissioning Phase

(WNN): Installation of the control room has been completed at the demonstration Hualong One being constructed as unit 5 of the Fuqing nuclear power plant in China’s Fujian province. This is the first of two reference units which will be used by China to drive export sales of the reactor design.

The control room was completed on August 4th which marks the reactor’s transition from the installation phase to the system commissioning phase.

Fuqing 5 and 6 are scheduled to be completed in 2019 and 2020, respectively.

Construction of two Hualong One (HPR1000) units is also under way at China General Nuclear’s Fangchenggang plant in the Guangxi Autonomous Region. Those units are also expected to start up in 2019 and 2020. The HPR1000 has also been proposed for construction at Bradwell in the UK, where it is undergoing Generic Design Assessment.

Turkey To Build Third Nuclear Station
In Cooperation With China, Says Minister

(NucNet): Turkey will build a third nuclear power station ihn Kirklareli province at a Black Sea coast site northwest of Istanbul, and will cooperate with China on the project, energy minister Fatih Donmez was reported to haved told wire services. China is reported to be planning to offer multiple units of the CAP1400, a 1400 MW version of the Westinghouse 1150 MW AP1000. China received the intellectual property rights to design the 1400 MW unit as part of the original deal with Westinghouse to build four 1150 AP1000 units.

Turkey’s first nuclear station at Akkuyu, is being built by Rosatom on the Mediterranean coast is expected when complete to meet 10% of the country’s energy needs. It will be composed of four 1200 MM VVER units. The design is Russia’s most advanced PWR type reactor technology.

Turkey has plans to get another 10% or more of its electricity needs met by a second nuclear station to be built with Japan at Sinop on the Black Sea.

Despite the fact that construction started in Akkuyu last April, the project still lacks outside investors. Turkish construction firms that had been negotiating for an equity stakes in the project pulled out earlier this year. The cited reason was that the parties could not agree on rates to be charged for the electricity to be generated by the power station.

The Sinop project has also hit some financial speed bumps.  Last May a major Japanese investor in Turkey’s planned second nuclear power station dropped out of participating in the project due to dramatic increases in the cost of the project.

The Nikkei news service reported that Itochu Trading House says the original cost of $18 billion for four 1100 MW PWR type reactors has skyrocketed due to what it says are new safety and security measures for the plants. The firm also reportedly complained that the timeframe to complete the project, 2023, wasn’t feasible.

The project envisions four 1100 MW ATMEA PWR type reactors the design for which was jointly developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHL) and Areva. It is a scaled down version of Areva’s 1650 MW EPR. None have ever been built making the Sinop project a first of a kind project (FOAK) for the design.

It did not cite the new cost of the project.  At $5000/kw, a 4400 MW facility would have an “overnight cost” of $22 billion or $4 billion more than the original estimate.  At $6500/Kw, which is an upper bound estimate, the cost for the first of a kind (FOAK) reactor project could be $28.6 billion. This increase of $10.6 billion or a nearly 60% increase could spook even the most experienced investor in new nuclear projects.

Even with Itochu’s departure,  MHL told the Asahi Shimbun newspaper at that time it plans to go ahead with the effort assuming it can get rate guarantees that will bring investors to the table and provide them with a reasonable rate of return on their equity stakes in the project.

Itochu was planned to be part of a consortium of investors that would put up 30% of the costs. Other investors are expected include the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, MHL, the French utility Engie and the Turkish Electric Generation Corporation.

Beloyarsk BN-1200 Decision Pushed to 2021

(NucNet): Russia will make a decision on whether or not to go ahead with construction of a Generation IV BN-1200 sodium-cooled fast neutron reactor at the Beloyarsk nuclear power station in 2021, the director-general of state nuclear operator Rosenergoatom Andrei Petrov said in a statement on Rosenergoatom’s website.

Mr Petrov said the commercial viability of the proposed unit, Beloyarsk-5, must be proven before any green light for construction is given. According to Rosenergoatom, construction could start in 2024 or 2025 with completon in 2031 or 2032.

Russia has two sodium-cooled fast neutron reactor units in commercial operation at Beloyarsk in central Russia – Beloyarsk-4 of the BN-800 design and Beloyarsk-3 of the smaller BN-600 design.

Previously Rosenergoatom has cited the need to improve fuel for the reactor and to resolve questions concerning the project’s economic feasibility.

U-Battery receives Advanced Modular Reactor Funding

U-Battery, a micro nuclear reactor design able to produce heat and power for a variety of applications, has been successfully selected to receive funding in the Advanced Modular Reactor (AMR) Program.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is investing up to £44 million in AMR feasibility and development work through the programme, with the aims of generating low cost electricity which is delivered flexibly, and providing other functionality such as the provision of heat for domestic or industrial use.

U-Battery General Manager, Steve Threlfall, said: “U-Battery is delighted to have received the green light to progress to Phase 1 of the Government’s AMR Program. This will involve receiving a first tranche of funding to produce a feasibility study in which we outline the commercial and technical case for U-Battery.

“The feasibility study will be produced over the next six months, before being submitted to Government.

“We look forward to using the study to demonstrate how U-Battery can deliver a low-carbon solution to address energy and decarbonisation challenges in the UK and global markets.”

Work Begins at Fuel Manufacturing Site
in Washington State for Lightbridge Fuel

Lightbridge Corporation (NASDAQ:LTBR), a nuclear fuel technology development company, announced on August 13th that work began at the Framatome fuel fabrication facility in Richland, Washington. This state-of-the-art facility will be used to manufacture fuel assemblies for U.S. nuclear power plants based on Lightbridge’s patented metallic fuel that provides improved safety and better economics through power uprates and longer fuel cycles.

Key activities are underway to finalize workflow and facility layout, as well as to develop procurement specifications for manufacturing equipment. Engineers and technicians are also preparing the facility licensing package for U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission review and approval as well as performing initial facility engineering work. The accelerated work was undertaken to meet growing U.S. utility customer interest in the metallic fuel technology.

Lightbridge CEO Seth Grae said: “With the increasing need for America’s nuclear power plants to become more efficient, the work to prepare this U.S. manufacturing site for Lightbridge Fuel™ lays the foundation for delivering next-generation fuel assemblies to nuclear utility customers. By making nuclear power plants more cost competitive, our innovative fuel technology can help keep these important sources of carbon-free and reliable power from facing early closure.”

Lightbridge and Framatome, a world leader in nuclear energy, officially launched the Enfission joint venture in January 2018.

UK’s Wood and National Nuclear Laboratory
Partner for Nuclear Fuel Research

THE UK government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has awarded a three-year contract to Wood and National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) to research advanced nuclear fuels.

The two groups will use modelling and simulation tools to support the design, qualification, and fabrication of advanced nuclear fuels in the UK. The contract will focus on analysis methods for reactor physics, thermal-hydraulics and fuel performance for advanced water-cooled reactors, high temperature gas reactors, and liquid metal fast reactors and their respective nuclear fuels.

Bob MacDonald, CEO of Wood’s Specialist Technical Solutions, said: “Securing this work positions us very well for design opportunities on future reactor types, including small modular reactors.”

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UK Struggles to Keep Moorside Nuclear New Build Alive

  • The UK government’s dithering over whether to take an equity stake in a turnkey effort at for the Moorside nuclear project has generated a raft of problems for it.
  • The government, which knows it must build the new new reactors, seems to be at sea over coming to terms about how to finance the effort.
  • The biggest issue is that Toshiba has yanked KEPCO’s preferred status as a bidder for the project. Meanwhile, KEPCO’s 1400 MW PWR type reference design is making its way through the UK generic design review process.
UK new nuclear

UK Nuclear New Build – About 19 GWe. Image: WNA

In the last week of July South Korean officials began a series of negotiation meetings with UK government officials to come to terms over how to finance the {L}15 / $20 billion project. The Moorside project, located in Cumbria in northwest England, is being developed by NuGen which is currently owned by Toshiba.

In mid-July Toshiba announced it was fed up with the delays on concluding the negotiations over the terms and price of the sale of NuGen to KEPCO.  In an effort to stop the drain on its finances, it said it would lay off 100 people from the site.

KEPCO was at one time on track to close the deal by September, but delays in getting the government to declare how it would support financing the new build, and KEPCO’s obvious unwilling posture of not wanting to carry the costs on its own. shoved all the parties into their respective corners.

For its part, Toshiba, in an effort to get everyone’s attention, told KEPCO is was no longer a “preferred bidder” for the sale of NuGen.  Last December KEPCO had beaten China’s CGN in an earlier round of negotiations to get that status.

Toshiba still wants to unload NuGen which originally was to be composed of three Westinghouse 1150 MW AP1000 reactors.  With the bankruptcy of Westinghouse, and the failure of the V C Summer project South Carolina, that plan went in the bit bucket.

KEPCO has offered to build two 1400 MW PWR type reactors in their place which would provide about 7% of the electricity needed for the UK. KEPCO is building four of these units in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and the first one is expected to come online either late this year or in 2019.

Toshiba hasn’t slammed the door in KEPCO, but in downgrading its status as a bidder, it in effect is reopening the bid process to other vendors.  That move is expected to put pressure on KEPCO and the government to come up with a financial plan to save the project.

Better Late than Never

The UK government, in an effort to put the pieces of the project back together, has offered what it calls a “regulated asset base” (RAB) financing model that would do two things.  First, would insure a rate base that would make the project profitable. Second, it would provide a means for the government to take an equity stake in the project by putting up a significant portion of the money needed to building the reactors.

According to World Nuclear News on July 30th the UK Department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy held a meeting with KEPCO to develop a “profitability and risk management plant.” According to a statement from the ministry, as reported by WNN, a government funding decision would be forthcoming once the plan was agreed to by all parties.

A key item will be the final price of the project. If the UK insists on a fixed price, it will not get very far in the negotiations. KEPCO will want the UK government to share the risk of cost escalation due to issues with equipment, construction schedules, or other factors that inevitably come up with a project of this size.

Separately, the South Korean English language news media reported that KEPCO has approached the government there about taking a minority equity stake in the Moorside project as a confidence building measure for the UK government.

If both the UK and the South Korean (ROK) governments are equity partners in the project, it will no longer be a “turnkey effort” similar to the new build in the UAE.

The precedent for the UK equity role is already in place as part of the government’s negotiations with Hitachi for construction of three 1350 MW ABWR type reactors at Wlfa. The UK government has put on the table a proposal to finance as much as two-thirds of the costs of the project through a combination of direct investment, loan guarantees, and regulated rates of return.

Conceivably, the UK and ROK government equity shares could be sold off to private investors once the plants were built and had a period of time operating as reliable and profitable power stations.

South Africa Citing the Costs of Russian Reactors
Says it Can’t Afford Them

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa said last week that his country can’t afford Russia’s proposal to build four 1200 MW VVER reactors, which is half the size of the plan offered four years ago to then President Zuma.

Ramaphosa said the South African economy can’t afford the cost which would be about $50 billion.  He conveyed his concerns directly to Russian PM Vladimir Putin during a multi-lateral meeting of developing nations that took place in Johannesburg.

A key item may have been that Russia did not offer the same kinds of favorable financial terms it has offered to Egypt and Bangladesh for the multi-reactor projects.

Separately, Eskom, the South African state-owned electric utility, announced it has taken a $2.5 billion loan from China’s Development Bank  to stay afloat financially and to complete construction of the Kusile coal-fired power plant.  The loan represents 62% of the utility’s funding for the coming year according to a press statement from Eskom’s group treasurer Andre Pillay.

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DOE Kicks $20M Out the Door for Advanced Nuclear R&D

nuke logoThe Department of Energy (DOE) has selected nine projects to receive $20 million in funding for cost-shared research and development for advanced nuclear technologies. It is the latest in a series of awards which began last April.

These activities are important because they support various aspects of existing and advanced reactor development, and they establish domestic capabilities for safer, more efficient, clean baseload energy that will support the U.S. economy and energy independence.

“DOE is investing in advanced nuclear technologies, because we are looking to the future. Nuclear energy is a critical part of our all-of-the-above energy strategy for the country, and early-stage research can help ensure it will continue to be a clean, reliable, and resilient source of electricity,” DOE said in a statement.

These awards are through the Office of Nuclear Energy’s (NE) funding opportunity announcement (FOA) U.S. Industry Opportunities for Advanced Nuclear Technology Development and are the second group selected under this solicitation. The first group was announced on April 27, 2018 and awarded $60M in grants.

Subsequent quarterly application review and selection processes will be conducted over the next five years. The Department intends to apply approximately $30 million of additional FY 2018 funding to the next quarterly award cycle for innovative proposals under this FOA.

These awards are examples of the private-public partnerships needed to help successfully develop innovative domestic nuclear technologies. The projects will allow industry-led teams, which include participants from federal agencies, public and private laboratories, institutions of higher education, and other domestic entities, to advance the state of U.S. commercial nuclear capability. The solicitation is broken into three funding pathways:

  • First-of-a-Kind (FOAK) Nuclear Demonstration Readiness Project pathway, intended to address major advanced reactor design development projects or complex technology advancements for existing plants which have significant technical and licensing risk and have the potential to be deployed by the mid-to-late 2020s.
  • Advanced Reactor Development Projects pathway, which allows a broad scope of proposed concepts and ideas that are best suited to improving the capabilities and commercialization potential of advanced reactor designs and technologies.
  • Regulatory Assistance Grants pathway, which provide direct support for resolving design regulatory issues, regulatory review of licensing topical reports or papers, and other efforts focused on obtaining certification and licensing approvals for advanced reactor designs and capabilities.

DOE is also announcing voucher awards selected under the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) initiative. All awards selected under this FOA and the GAIN Voucher Request for Assistance (RFA) will be funded under existing NE programs.

FOAK Nuclear Demonstration Readiness Project pathway:

Calendar Year 2018 Activities for Phase 2 of NuScale Small Modular Reactor project – NuScale Power (Corvallis, OR) will build on Phase 1 project activities to advance the licensing and design maturity to meet a commercial operation date of 2026 for the first NuScale plant. The specific project scope being funded represents calendar year 2018 activities associated with the next phase (Phase 2) of the U.S. product realization effort required to bring the NuScale design to market.

Specific project activities include completion of the independent verification and validation licensing report; completion of the reactor building design optimization; and conduct of level sensor prototypic testing. There is potential for extension of this award to complete calendar year 2019 activities associated with Phase II of the NuScale project if the 2018 activities are completed successfully. DOE Funding: $7,000,000; Non-DOE: $7,100,000; Total Value: $14,100,000

Advanced Reactor Development Projects pathway:

Conceptual Engineering for a Small Modular Reactor Power Plant Based on Lead-Bismuth Fast Reactor (LBFR) Technology – This work proposed by Columbia Basin Consulting Group (Kennewick, WA) aims to develop a pre-conceptual design and preliminary cost estimate for a lead-bismuth small modular reactor. DOE Funding: $400,000; Non-DOE: $100,000; Total: $500,000

Reactor Plant Cost Reduction to Compete with Natural Gas Fired Electrical Generation – Under this proposal, GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy (Wilmington, NC) will examine ways to reduce reactor plant construction and maintenance costs on their BWRX-300 small light water reactor concept through (a) elimination of Loss of Coolant Accidents (LOCAs), (b) the use of an embedded (below grade) design and construction and (c) the use of pooled off-site resources that can be applied simultaneously at multiple sites.
DOE Funding: $1,925,038; Non-DOE: $481,260; Total Value: $2,406,298

Experimental Verification of Post-Accident Integrated Pressurized Water Reactor (iPWR) Aerosol Behavior, Phase 3 – The Electric Power Research Institute (Palo Alto, CA) will further improve the models used to estimate the post-accident radionuclide releases from integral pressurized water reactors (iPWRs) with a goal of reducing regulatory requirements for emergency planning zones. DOE Funding: $1,119,699; Non-DOE: $279,923; Total Value: $1,399,622

Fluorination of Lithium Fluoride-Beryllium Fluoride (FLiBe) Molten Salt Processing – Flibe Energy (Huntsville, AL) has teamed with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (Richland, WA) to examine the use of nitrogen trifluoride as an agent to remove uranium from a molten-salt fuel mixture as a preliminary step for the removal of fission products. DOE Funding: $2,101,982; Non-DOE: $525,500; Total Value: $2,627,482

Advancing and Commercializing Hybrid Laser Arc Welding (HLAW) for Nuclear Vessel Fabrication, Including Small Modular Reactors – Holtec International (Camden, NJ) will advance hybrid laser arc welding for use in fabrication of small modular reactors and other nuclear components to achieve improvements in the reliability, quality and cost associated with traditional multi-pass welding. DOE Funding: $6,314,612; Non-DOE: $6,314,612; Total Value: $12,629,224

Regulatory Assistance Grant pathway:

Regulatory Support for Advanced Light Water Reactor Deployment: Advanced Boiling Water Reactor Source Term Reduction – Pittsburgh Technical Institute (Oakdale, PA) will develop a technical basis to reduce source terms associated with Level II and Level III probabilistic risk assessment for advanced boiling water reactor designs.
DOE Funding: $498,000; Non-DOE: $124,500; Total Value: $622,500

GAIN Vouchers

gain logoFinally, DOE has selected two companies to receive GAIN technology development vouchers in this second review cycle.

The companies selected are Yellowstone Energy (Knoxville, TN) in the amount of $160,000, and ThorCon US (Stevenson, WA) in the amount of $400,000. Further detail and description of these awards can be found under the GAIN website.

NE funds research, development, and demonstration projects to reduce the risk and cost of advanced nuclear technologies, and to improve nuclear energy’s contribution to meeting the nation’s economic, energy security, and environmental challenges.

DOE Launches New Lab Partnering Service

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has launched the Lab Partnering Service (LPS), an on-line, single access point platform for investors, innovators, and institutions to identify, locate, and obtain information from DOE’s 17 national laboratories. This tool will provide industry with a more efficient way to harness technical expertise and intellectual property housed at DOE’s labs.

The DOE Office of Technology Transitions’ (OTT) Lab Partnering Service gives energy investors and innovators direct access to the vast array of expertise, research, and capabilities across all 17 National Labs. LPS will allow users to submit inquiries to the Technology Transfer Office at each lab. This office can answer and/or direct questions from the users and provide an invaluable navigational assistance through the DOE R&D ecosystem.

“The launch of the Lab Partnering Service represents a big step in reducing barriers that often limit energy investors from partnering with our National Labs,” said Secretary of Energy Rick Perry.

“The LPS consolidates information and capabilities at the National Labs to increase public access, allowing industry and academia to fully utilize these vital scientific resources.”

The LPS has three parts:

Connect with Experts: Unprecedented access to top national lab researchers will allow investors and innovators to connect with relevant subject matter experts, and receive unbiased and non-competitive technical assessments.

Technical/Marketing Summaries: Direct access to pre-validated, ready to license, and commercialize technologies.

Visual Patent Search: Dynamic online search and visualization database tool for patents associated with DOE laboratories.

DOE is one of the largest supporters of technology transfer in the federal government. The 17 national labs have supported the critical research and development that lead to many technologies in the marketplace today, including the batteries powering electric vehicles and the foundation of Internet servers.

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Argonne’s IFR to Live Again at Point Lepreau, New Brunswick

arc100 logoARC Nuclear and New Brunswick Power (NB Power)  have agreed to work together to take the necessary steps to develop, license, and build an advanced small modular reactor (SMR) based on ARC Nuclear’s Gen IV sodium-cooled fast reactor technology.

moltex-logo_thumb.pngIn a separate second announcement, the New Brunswick Energy Solutions Corporation  announced the participation of Moltex Energy in the nuclear research cluster that will work on research and development on small modular reactor technology based on molten salt technology.

ARC-100 work with NB Power

ARC has agreed to collaborate with NB Power to work on the future deployment of the ARC-100 at NB Power’s Point Lepreau nuclear plant site and thereafter at other sites in Canada and worldwide.

The ARC-100 is a 100 MWe sodium cooled, fast flux, pool type reactor with metallic fuel that is based on the 30 year successful operation of the EBR-II reactor in Idaho.

ARC was formed to bring back and commercialize a technically mature, advanced reactor technology that was created and proven by a U.S. prototype reactor that ran successfully in the United States for 30 years which is the Integral Fast Reactor (IFR) which was developed at the Argonne West field station on the Arco Desert 27 miles west of Idaho Falls, ID. ARC has made significant proprietary advances to the original EBR-II design in order to create the ARC-100.

The ARC-100 design creates a “walk away” passive safety system that insures the reactor will never melt down even in a disaster that causes a complete loss of power to the plant site. In addition, it can be fueled with the nuclear waste produced by traditional reactors, and its 20 year refueling cycle offers new levels of proliferation resistance. The firm applied for a Phase 1 Review with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission in Fall 2017.arc-100
According to the company, the ARC-100 has the following competitive factors.

  • Small Size –  Small enough that its modularized components can be shipped and installed at the site using regular commercial equipment, such as barges, rail, trucks, and construction cranes.
  • Sodium as Coolant – The use of sodium instead of water as the heat transfer agent in the reactor allows the reactor to operate at ambient pressure.  Its containment vessel is a double walled stainless steel tank rather than a 12 inch thick forged steel containment vessel required for traditional light water reactors.
  • Passive Safety – Effectively “walk away” fail safe and protection of the reactor from a melt down does not depend on extra pumps, operator intervention or any external system in the event a disaster destroys all electric power to the plant site.
  • Re-use of Nuclear Waste –  The ARC-100 can be used to recycle traditional nuclear waste and generate energy, burn or transform plutonium that could be used for weapons and eliminate the need to bury or store large quantities of nuclear waste.
  • Twenty Year Refueling Cycle – The proprietary reactor core of the ARC reactor is designed to operate for 20+ years without refueling.

It also provides a new model for nuclear power that is based on factory fabrication of modular components that can be shipped for rapid site assembly, thereby promoting the prompt start of a revenue stream.

NB Province Plans to be an SMR Technology Center

A key objective is the establishment of Canada’s New Brunswick Province as a center of excellence and the manufacturing hub for advanced SMR products based on the ARC-100 technology. The project will result in a nuclear supply chain created in the Province with well-paying jobs and substantial new economic opportunity.

“We are pleased to announce the participation of ARC, a company with significant experience and ability to make advancements in this bourgeoning sector,” said David Campbell, chair of the New Brunswick Energy Solutions Corporation.

The New Brunswick Energy Solutions Corporation is a joint venture formed in May 2017 by New Brunswick’s provincial government and NB Power, operator of the Point Lepreau nuclear power plant, to explore energy export opportunities.

The Point Lepreau site is home to a 705 MW Candu-6 nuclear reactor. In 2013 the utility spent over USD$3 billion refurbishing the reactor nearly $1 billion more than budgeted for the project. It was the first of a kind project for a Candu-6. The provincial government sued AECL for the cost overrun.  It’s clear that from this experience the utility has no interest in ever building another full size reactor at the site.

GE-Hitachi Partnership with ARC-100 Hits a New Milestone

ARC will be supported by its partner, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH), in line with their previous announcement of collaboration. The company last year signed an agreement with GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) to collaborate on development and licensing, and uses proprietary technology from GEH’s PRISM reactor.

GEH has broad engineering experience, deep technical capability, and significant investment in its sodium fast reactor technology program. The ARC Nuclear team brings decades of sodium fast reactor experience to this effort.

By working together, ARC and GEH have been working to accelerate commercialization of this technology. In addition, GE has deep experience in supporting the development of energy supply chains worldwide, and GE Canada has a strong presence with over 6,500 employees and over 125 years of operations and Canada.

“We have been collaborating with ARC for more than a year and are bringing intellectual property, engineering tools and experts, rigorous quality programs, and management systems and processes, all of which are necessary for nuclear development,” said Jon Ball, Executive Vice President, Nuclear Plant Projects, GEH.

“ARC was formed to bring back and commercialize a technically mature, advanced reactor technology that was created and proven by a U.S. prototype reactor that ran successfully in the United States for 30 years,” said Don Wolf, CEO and chairman of ARC.

While there are more than 90 advanced nuclear technology and small modular reactor designs under various stages of development, ARC Nuclear and NB Power view sodium fast reactors as one of the most mature advanced reactor technology with decades of real operating experience from more than 20 previous reactors.

First Partner Announced for New Brunswick SMR project

World Nuclear News reported the announcement follows the government of New Brunswick’s commitment of CAD10 million (USD7.5 million), announced on 6/26/18 to help the New Brunswick Energy Solutions Corporation develop a nuclear research cluster in the province, which is home to the Point Lepreau nuclear power plant.

ARC will commit CAD5 million to operations and research in New Brunswick, and establish an office in St John. The move aims to position New Brunswick as a leader in the field of research and development of small modular reactor (SMR) technology.

National nuclear science and technology organization Canadian Nuclear Laboratories has set a goal of siting a new SMR on its Chalk River site by 2026. Canadian company Terrestrial Energy in June last year began a feasibility study for the siting of the first commercial Integrated Molten Salt Reactor at Chalk River.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission is currently involved in pre-licensing vendor design reviews for ten small reactors with capacities in the range of 3-300 MWe.

Natural Resources Canada earlier this year launched a process to prepare a roadmap to explore the potential of on- and off-grid applications for SMR technology, aiming to position the country to become a global leader in the emerging SMR market.

On the web – Licensing the Integral Fast Reactor / ANS Nuclear Café  11/02/2011

“What we know now is that there are no technical gaps that would preclude a licensing application if using known technology. Gaps might arise if a developer chooses to use a new fuel which would need testing. That process could be completed faster if simulation and modeling tools could be brought to bear on the problem.”  – John Sackett

About ARC Nuclear

Founded in 2006, Advanced Reactor Concepts, LLC. and its Canadian subsidiary ARC Nuclear Canada Inc. are privately held companies formed with many of the nuclear energy pioneers who played key roles in the EBR-II program. Contact: Advanced Reactor Concepts LLC, Robert Braun, +1 484-354-7840,

Moltex to Partner in Nuclear R&D Innovation Cluster

moltex logoThe New Brunswick Energy Solutions Corporation has announced the participation of Moltex Energy in the nuclear research cluster that will work on research and development on small modular reactor technology. It is the second SMR announcement this month for the Point Lepreau nuclear power station.

Just weeks after its success in being selected as a winner in the UK government’s Advanced Modular Reactors competition, Moltex announced that it has also been selected by New Brunswick Energy Solutions Corporation and New Brunswick Power to progress development of its SSR-W (Stable Salt Reactor – Wasteburner) technology in New Brunswick, with the aim of deploying its first SSR-W at the Point Lepreau nuclear reactor site before 2030.

Moltex will commit $5 million to operations and research in New Brunswick and establish an office in Saint John. The provincial government recently announced a commitment of $10 million towards the nuclear research cluster.

“This represents the second significant private sector partner in nuclear technology, research and potential development to join the recently established nuclear research cluster at the University of New Brunswick,” said NB Power president and CEO Gaëtan Thomas.

The selection of the Moltex technology reflects its advantages. (Technical briefing – PDF file) See also this description of the molten salt technology.

moltex cutaway

Cut Away Diagram of Moltex Reactor. Image: Moltext Corp.

According the World Nuclear News, Moltex Energy’s SSR is a conceptual UK reactor design with no pumps and relies on convection from static vertical fuel tubes in the core to convey heat to the steam generators. A key element of the design is that fuel assemblies are arranged at the center of a tank half-filled with the coolant salt which transfers heat away from the fuel assemblies to the peripheral steam generators, essentially by convection.

Core temperature is 500-600°C, at atmospheric pressure. Moltex has also developed its GridReserve molten salt heat storage concept to enable the reactor to supplement intermittent renewables.  See this technical review of molten salt reactors which explains how the concept work.

Moltex has submitted both fast and thermal versions in the UK competition for SMR designs, and has applied for Phase 1 of the Vendor Design Review with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). 

According to the company, key competitive factors include:

  • Grid scale energy storage so the SSR can produce electricity at triple its reactor power for the 8 hours a day of peak demand while running the reactor itself continuously at full capacity
  • Up to eight modules can work together for up to 1200 MW.
  • Low cost conversion of spent fuel from today’s reactors into fresh fuel for the SSR, saving billions in costs of waste disposal
  • Low cost electricity, estimated at <3.5p (<5c) per kWhr when operated as baseload, and 4p (6c) when operated as a peak demand plant
  • Capital cost per kW similar to a Combined Cycle Gas Turbine plant but with far lower running costs

The long-term vision for Moltex is to build a commercial demonstration small modular reactor plant at the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station. Additionally, new advancements in energy generation, such as small modular reactors, are meant to complement the gains and partnerships being made through the province’s smart grid initiatives.

For more information contact Stephen Haighton, CEO Moltex Energy Ltd (+44) 7802 534665,

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Japan Says Burning MOX is Key to Reduce Plutonium Stocks

Efforts to Speed Up Reactor Restarts Using MOX May Get a Boost

mox-fuel-word-cloudNuclear reactor restarts for units that can burn mixed oxide fuel (MOX) in Japan are now more likely following the release of a government energy plan that confirms that nuclear power will remain a key component of Japan’s energy strategy.

Whether the burnup of plutonium in the form of MOX, based on fabrication of it from reprocessed spent fuel, will reduce Japan’s total inventory of plutonium and calm U.S. jitters over the issue remains to be seen.

The new plan, known as the Basic Energy Plan, calls for a nuclear share of around 20-22% by 2030. Prior to the Fukushima accident, Japan generated about 30% of its electricity from nuclear and planned to increase that to 40%.

In parallel the The Ashai Shimbun newspaper reported on July 6th that in response to international concerns, the Japan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) has a plan to reduce the nation’s plutonium stockpile by turning it into mixed oxide fuel (MOX). (Full text, 8 pagesPDF file). The plan focuses on the need for Japan to declare a “specific purpose” for all of its plutonium stocks and for peaceful uses of the material.

Basic Energy Plan

The nuclear industry group, the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum (JAIF) said about 30 reactors must be brought back online to meet the target. So far only nine units have been restarted and only four of them are licensed and capable of burning MOX fuel to reduce Japan’s plutonium inventory.

In the list that follows the reactors with an asterisk (*) can burn MOX. The nine units that have been restarted in Japan since the Fukushima accident: Ohi-3, Ohi-4, Genkai-3*, Genkai-4, Sendai-1, Sendai-2, Ikata-3*, Takahama-3* and Takahama-4*.

Japanese utilities have decided to scrap 19 reactors of which 10 are in Fukushima province. The others that have been selected are older than than 40 years, have relatively low power levels, and may face high costs of bringing them into compliance with new safety standards.

NucNet reported that the plan does not make any mention of the need for building new nuclear plants. The Basic Energy Plan released by the Japanese government also strengthens the government’s commitment to giving renewables such as solar and wind power a major role in energy generation.

Also, the plan, which charts the nation’s mid- and long-term energy policy, marks the fifth in a series that is required by law to be reviewed about every three years. The plan maintains a reliance on coal-fired thermal power as a baseload energy source despite high emissions of carbon dioxide.However, it endorses using MOX fuel which is based on reprocessing spent nuclear fuel to extract plutonium to be blended with uranium.

Plan to Reduce Plutonium by Making and Burning MOX

The Ashai Shimbun newspaper reported on July 6th that in response to international concerns, the Japan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) has released a plan to reduce the nation’s plutonium stockpile by turning it into mixed oxide fuel (MOX).

The JAEC included the goal in its latest white paper of nuclear energy utilization. The JAEC said in a white paper that using (MOX) fuel in commercial reactors is the only realistic method to reduce the stockpile. (2016 status report on plutonium management in JapanPDF file 13 pages)

The Rokkasho nuclear fuel reprocessing plant, which is under construction in Aomori Prefecture, is scheduled to be completed in the first half of fiscal 2021. It has seen repeated delays due to the complexity of the technology. Critics have asked whether it can be completed to address the problem.

Japan’s efforts to design and operate a fast reactor that would burn plutonium have not been successful more or less insuring that the MOX fuel will be fabricated for use in existing commercial reactors.  Historically, most of Japan’s MOX fuel has come from a plant in France.

The resulting mixed oxide fuel, or MOX, has an equivalent enrichment level of about 5% U235. MOX burns hotter and longer in the core than conventional fuel which is why conventional reactors limit its use to about one-third of the fuel assemblies.

The Rokkasho plant is designed to extract 8 tonnes of plutonium a year from spent nuclear fuel and reprocess it into MOX fuel. A back of the envelope calculation indicates that amount could produce about 400 PWR type MOX fuel assemblies a year.

Japan has an estimated 47 tonnes of plutonium, but according to the IAEA most of the inventory is held in the UK and France for eventual reprocessing into MOX fuel. Only about 10 tonnes are in Japan.

Assuming that a hypothetical 1000 MWe PWR core contain 193 fuel assemblies, if one third of them are swapped out for MOX assemblies, that would come to 64 MOX fuel assemblies that would be needed every 18-24 months per reactor.

The Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan, which coordinates the operations of Japan’s 10 electric power companies, reportedly told JAEC that it will aim to eventually introduce the MOX fuel in 16 to 18 reactors.

Conceivably, that would generate a demand for the equivalent of (16 x 64) or approximately 1,000 PWR type MOX fuel assemblies every two years.

A key success factor for any MOX fuel fabrication plan is that it can insure reliable delivery of the MOX fuel assemblies to meet reactor outage schedules.

If in fact Japan can license and revamp and restart 16 to 18 reactors to burn MOX, the demand per refueling cycle might make a dent in the current inventory. The question is whether future reprocessing would significantly slow down the rate at which the inventory was reduced in size.

Japan Moves to Address Nonproliferation Concerns

JAEC said its plans to soon announce its new policies that will include limiting the amount of extracted plutonium to what can be consumed, as well as decreasing the amount of plutonium stored overseas.

“We need to understand and try to explain our special situation, in which we possess plutonium despite being a non-nuclear-weapon state,” said Yoshiaki Oka, chairman of JAEC.

Other countries are nervous about the size of the inventory. While the inventory is in three different places, taken as a whole, it is enough to make a huge inventory of nuclear weapons. The large stockpile of plutonium that can make atomic bombs raises security concerns across Asia.

According to June 15th, Nikkei Business Daily report, the U.S. Department of State and the National Security Council had requested that Japan trim its stockpiles ahead of an extension next month of a bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement.

The chairman of the Japanese power utilities’ federation, Satoru Katsuno, who is also president of Chubu Electric Power, said in response to an inquiry from the wire service,

“Under the principle of not having plutonium with no purpose for usage, we are trying to carry out MOX (mixed oxide) fuel usage at reactors promptly. We will continue to try to curb plutonium stockpiles.”

Chubu Electric wants to use its plutonium stockpiles as fuel for its Hamaoka No.4 reactor, which has been shut pending rigorous safety checks imposed after the Fukushima disaster in 2011.

Other Japanese utility owners agreed.

“Our priority is restarting our own reactors” to use up excess plutonium, rather than sending it elsewhere, said Hokkaido Electric Power President Akihiko Mayumi in a statement to the Nikkei  Daily.

However, in the US nonproliferation experts inside the government and NGOs who follow such matters have called for Japan to stop reprocessing altogether and dispose of the surplus plutonium by other means such as a deep geologic repository or immobilization in a form from which it cannot be extracted and re-used.

JAEC Commission chairman Yoshiaki Oka told the Associated Press on July 5th  the effort to tackle the stockpile is Japan’s own initiative underscoring its commitment to a peaceful nuclear program. The U.S. has been in diplomatic dialog with Japan over the size of its plutonium inventory as it enters into what may be protracted negotiations with North Korea over its nuclear weapons program.

Oka said, perhaps as a face saving measure, that he was not aware of any outstanding problem between the two countries over the plutonium issue, but that Japan is taking into consideration the importance of maintaining “relationship of trust with the U.S.”

Addendum – Another Voice on Japan’s MOX Fuel Plan

Nonproliferation expert Alan J. Kuperman, associate professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, The University of Texas at Austin, writes in Kyodo News on 7/13/18, that Japan’s plan to burn 48 tonnes of plutonium as MOX fuel in the nation’s commercial nuclear power plant “directly contradicts the lessons from a yearlong study that I recently led of all countries that have commercially used or produced MOX for thermal nuclear power plants. We found that five of the seven countries had already abandoned MOX fuel due to concerns about economics, security, and public acceptance.”

He lists four reasons why Japan’s plan will not work.

First, as pointed out above, Japan doesn’t have enough reactors to burn a big enough volume of the MOX fuel to make a dent in the overall inventory. JAEC’s plan to add 16-18 reactors to the mix depends on restarts that haven’t happened yet.

Second, he points out the plan produces new stocks of plutonium from reprocessing which “is counterproductive and . . . which would magnify not solve the problem.”

Third, he points out about half of Japan’s stockpile, 22 tonnes, is in the UK, which has offered to take ownership for a price, as it did for four other countries. If Japan took this approach, he says, it could transfer its problem to an existing nuclear power and reduce tensions over nonproliferation issues in Asia at the same time.

Fourth, some of the domestic ten tonnes of plutonium in Japan isn’t suitable for MOX. Two tonnes were previously fabricated into fuel for a now canceled type of fast reactor and won’t work in existing  LWR type plants. Further unless Japan completes its own MOX plant, it will have to rely on France to make it at a much higher cost.

Overall, Kuperman says Japan must make credible progress reducing its plutonium stockpile or risk being misinterpreted as to its intentions by other countries.

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Jordan Downsizes its Nuclear Energy Ambitions to SMRs

  • small reactorsJordan to replace a deal with Rosatom for two full size PWRs with one with South Korea for its SMART SMR design
  • Jordan cites the financial burden of funding $10 billion for the two 1000 MW Rosatom VVERs

Jordan has made it official saying in an statement on June 26th from the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) that it will not proceed with plans, inked in 2015, to partner with Rosatom to build two 1000 MW VVER type nuclear reactors which came with a $10 billion price tag.

According to the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC), the reason for the decision is that Rosatom asked for 50% private equity funding for the project. The agency said the request was an “unfavorable” financial condition and, apparently, also a deal killer. Not mentioned in the announcement was the question of where the water for the steam system would come from in the desert kingdom.

There was no special financing or discount on price for the twin reactors which came in at an “overnight price” of $5,000/Kw which is in line with current global pricing for units of this size.

“The Russians requested obtaining loans from commercial banks, which would have increased the cost of the project and the prices of generated electricity. The Jordanian government rejected the proposal,” the statement said.

Commercial loans would have made the prices of electricity generated by the proposed nuclear station uncompetitive, JAEC said.

The chairman of the JAEC, Dr. Khaled Toukan, told the news conference that the commission has abandoned the construction of a large plant and will proceed with plans to  build small reactors. He added that small reactors need less funding and are more likely to bring international investors to the table than large stations.

Focus Shifts to South Korean SMART SMR

“Jordan is now focusing on small modular reactors because the large reactors place financial burden on the Kingdom and in light of the current fiscal conditions we believe it is best to focus on smaller reactors,” Toukan told The Jordan Times.

JAEC Chairman Toukan said that Jordan is planning to focus on small modular nuclear reactors and indicated an interest on South Korea’s 100 MW SMART reactor.

He said feasibility studies are being conducted jointly by the JAEC, the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy of Saudi Arabia and the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute to build two nuclear reactors in Jordan at a total capacity of 220 megawatts.

The two system-integrated modular advanced reactors (SMART) will cost around $800 million, Toukan noted, adding that the project will be financed by the three sides involved and that Jordan has received pledges of support for the reactors.

Other SMR Deals?

Jordan has also been in talks for the past year 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 has has an HTGR design.

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.

Toukan noted that the Commission is currently negotiating with China to build the same reactor that China is currently constructing in Shandong province. He added that no contract will be signed with CNNC before the actual startup of the Chinese reactor and operating it in revenue service on the grid for at least two years.

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.

Russians Downshift as Well

The Russians, while obvious not happy with Jordan’s decision, offered to shift gears and seek the business with an as yet unanounced SMR deisgn of their own.

Evgeny Pakermanov, president of JSC Rusatom Overseas said, “The SMR technologies will certainly become one of our top priorities on the way to develop the world energy market”, he said in a statement emailed to the Jordan Times.

The cancellation of the project is the latest setback in Rosatom’s export strategy. Earlier this year private investors pulled out of a project in Turkey to build four 1200 MW VVER.  Rosatom has struggled for several years to attract investors, but Turkish construction firms, which would also build the plants, have backed out of taking an equity position in them. Their reason appears to be that the two parties were unable to agree on the rate electricity would be charged for to customers.

Last year Vietnam pulled out of a deal to acquire four 1000 MW VVER on the grounds that the cost was prohibitive due to Rosatom’s terms for equity investments. Also, Vietnam may have had a second reason, and that it could not develop the capabilities to manage the regulatory role for safety and oversight of construction and operation of the reactors.

Fuel for Reactors?

On uranium reserves in Jordan, Toukan said the Kingdom’s central region is home to 40,000 metric tonnes of uranium, which has enough yellow cake to supply Jordan’s nuclear programme for more than 100 years. He added that “the volume is expected to increase as promising excavations are under way in several areas.”

“We expect to start producing tens of kilos of yellow cake by the end of this year,” said Toukan.

His claims may require some clarification. A few years ago both Rio Tinto and Areva conducted prospecting studies of the deposits and determined they were not economically feasible for bring into production. Jordan had at one time offered to swap uranium for the cost of new nuclear reactors. The record low global price of yellowcake makes that concept unrealistic for the time being.

In any case, where ever the uranium comes from, it will have to be enriched and  fabricated into fuel elements by facilities in other countries that already have these capabilities.

UAE’s First Nuclear Reactor Start-up Delayed Again

(Reuters) The start-up of the  first nuclear reactor in the United Arab Emirates has been delayed and should start operations between the end of 2019 and early 2020, the plant’s operator said in a statement to the wire service.

“The results of Nawah’s review forecast that the loading of nuclear fuel assemblies required to commence nuclear operations at Barakah Unit 1 will occur between the end of 2019 and early 2020,” it said in the statement.

Nawah Energy Company, the operator of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant in the Al-Dhafra Region of Abu Dhabi, said it “has completed a comprehensive operational readiness review” for an updated start-up schedule for the reactor.

The IAEA participated in the operational readiness reviews (ORR) which takes place prior to fuel loading. The agency said, it had issued a total of ten recommendations and seven suggestions, as well as identifying three key observations.

These findings included the need for ENEC and Nawah to reach operational readiness before the fuel load of the first unit. The IAEA also said the UAE needs to work towards its 2016 policy on the long-term management and disposal of spent nuclear and radioactive waste. The World Nuclear News posted a report on all of the areas covered in the ORR.

A reactor operator does not load fuel in a new reactor nor seek first criticality until all ORR issues are resolved to the satisfaction of safety agencies.

“The resulting projection for the start-up of Unit 1 operations reflects the time required for the plant’s nuclear operators to complete operational readiness activities and to obtain necessary regulatory approvals,” Nawah said.

Reuters reported last March that the start-up had been pushed back to 2019 due to training delays. These delays were caused in part due to a reactor in South Korea not being available to train new staff.  The reactor had been taken out of service due to the discovery of counterfeit cables supplied by South Korean firms and installed at the power station.  The cables had to be pulled out and replaced before the training program could take place.

The first of four reactors being built by Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) in the UAE is part of the Barakah power plant project that was originally scheduled to open last year. Barakah One is a joint venture between Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) and KEPCO.

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In Congress July 4, 1776


Painting by John Trumbull, 1818. The artist’s work hangs in the Capitol Rotunda, Washington, DC.  Image source: Architect of the Capitol.

About this photo

This painting depicts the moment on June 28, 1776, when the first draft of the Declaration of Independence was presented to the Second Continental Congress. The document stated the principles for which the Revolutionary War was being fought and which remain fundamental to the nation. Less than a week later, on July 4, 1776, the Declaration was officially adopted, it was later signed on August 2, 1776.

In the central group in the painting, Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the Declaration, is shown placing the document before John Hancock, president of the Congress. With him stand the other members of the committee that created the draft: John Adams, Roger Sherman, Robert Livingston and Benjamin Franklin. This event occurred in the Pennsylvania State House, now Independence Hall, in Philadelphia.

Word to Live By

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”


The full text of the Declaration courtesy of the National Archives.

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