China’s Hualong One Clears First Hurdle in UK

The design of the 1000 MW PWR type nuclear  reactor is deemed ready for a detailed assessment by the UK Office of Nuclear Regulation

The extraordinary export saga of China General Nuclear to to build two of its Hualong One (HPR1000) PWR type reactors at the Bradwell site in Essex, UK met a major milestone on November 16, 2017. Britain’s Office for Nuclear Regulation said in a press statement that the reactor had completed stage one of the Generic Design Assessment which is a check of the readiness of the application to undergo a detailed safety review.

Britain’s Office for Nuclear Regulation said the Chinese HPR1000 reactor will now move to stage two of its generic design assessment – the formal process for approving a new reactor. The four-stage assessment process is expected to take around four years.

WNA Hualong One

Before a new nuclear power station can be built and operated in the UK, in addition to the reactor design going through the GDA process, the proposed operator must obtain permission from regulators and Government in the form of:

  • Site license and relevant consent to begin nuclear-related construction from ONR;
  • Environmental permits from Environment Agency or Natural Resources Wales (NRW);
  • Planning permission from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Mike Finnerty, the ONR’s deputy chief inspector and director of the ONR’s new reactors division, told wire services that the purpose of GDA is to determine whether the design meets the robust safety and security standards to make it suitable for use in the UK.

He said: “I am satisfied that there are adequate project management and technical provisions in place to enter step two of the process and, as regulators, we can begin our technical assessment phase.”

CGN, which holds a one-third stake in the French-led Hinkley Point C EPR nuclear project, said it is confident that the HPR1000 will be approved by UK authorities for construction at Bradwell. The company hopes the GDA will be completed in less than five years.

The costs of the GDA, which have not been disclosed, will be paid by French nuclear operator EDF and CGN, which have formed a joint venture called General Nuclear Systems Limited to develop the Bradwell plans.

They are also behind plans for Hinkley Point C in Somerset and Sizewell C in Suffolk. EDF said the current reference plant for Bradwell B is CGN’s Fangchenggang Plant Unit 3 in China which started construction in February 2017 and is reported to be on schedule.

The original reference design for the Hualong One is believed to be China’s Daya Bay reactor which is based on a French Framatone 900 MW unit.

In the past other vendors, notably Westinghouse, have complained about the long duration and cost of the GDA. The ONR said in December 2016 that the firm was not meeting expectations in terms of what it needed to do to complete the GDA. The firm did turn things around and won approval in March 2017.

Britain needs to fill an electricity supply gap in the next decade. Many of its nuclear plants are due to close by 2030 and the government plans to shut its coal plants by 2025 to help reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

China Aims For Nuclear-Powered Rockets To Reach Moon, Asteroids

(South China Morning Post) According to a report in the Peoples Daily, which is state owned media, China is on course to develop nuclear-powered space shuttles by 2040, and will have the ability to mine resources from asteroids and build solar power plants in space.

The ambitious claims were made by the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology – the country’s leading rocket developer and manufacturer.

lm5_schematic

China’s Long March heavy lift rocket relies on chemical fuels. Image source: Spaceflight Now 11/03/16

According to the report, a new “nuclear fleet” of carrier rockets and reusable hybrid-power carriers will be ready for “regular, large scale” interplanetary flights, and carrying out commercial exploration and exploitation of natural resources by the mid-2040s.

In 2025, it is expected to launch a reusable suborbital carrier and start suborbital space tourism. By 2030, it aims to put astronauts on the moon and have the capabilities to bring samples back from Mars.

In the 2040s, a nuclear-powered fleet will be ready to carry out mining operations on asteroids and planets, the report said.

According to China’s space authorities, the nuclear shuttles would be docked at a transport hub that would orbit the earth. Reusable spacecraft would be used to transport people and cargo to and from the shuttles.

However, a mainland space expert contacted by the SCMP said the targets given in the People’s Daily report would be almost impossible to achieve.

“China does not even have a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to sail the oceans,” the researcher, who requested not to be named, said.

“Building a nuclear space fleet will remain on paper in the foreseeable future. We have not even solved some basic problems with conventional rocket technology yet,” he said.

China’s current rocket fleet relies on chemical fuels.  A Long March 5 heavy-lift rocket, designed for lunar missions and the construction of space stations, veered off course and crashed into the Pacific Ocean in July. The cause of the accident is still under investigation.

According to WNA China’s Chang’e 3 lunar lander apparently uses RTGs with Pu-238. WNA’s survey of the use of nuclear energy in space exploration does not report any other current or planned use of it by China

India pushing for Jaitapur nuclear plant despite cost escalation

(Economic Times) Ignoring the fact that French nuclear giant Areva S.A. is still recovering from a financial crisis, the Indian nuclear establishment continues to push for the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project (JNPP) planned in Ratnagiri, Maharashtra. A fresh bid to hammer out a deal is expected when French President Emmanuel Macron visits India, most likely in December. The plant would build six 1600 MW EPRs two at a time.

The Indian government may finally be interested in getting the project off dead center. It has been delayed for years by a combination of local land disputes, environmental reviews, and India’s nuclear supplier liability law which was pushed by the nation’s coal interests to throttle development of new nuclear reactors.

Critics of the project point out that EPRs still under construction in Finland and France are significantly behind schedule and over budget. Neither unit is operational although the reactor in Finland is slated for start up testing in 2018.

NucNet reports that India has struggled to attract the necessary investment and to gain access to reactor technology and expertise, with the Civil Liability Nuclear Damage Act of 2010 widely seen as deterring potential suppliers, especially Japanese and US companies.

In further signs that the potential of commercial nuclear power is being taken seriously by India, minister of state for the prime minister’s office Jitendra Singh earlier this year told parliament that steps have been taken to fast-track nuclear projects and the construction of new plants in different parts of the country. He said the government has approved and financially sanctioned the construction of the 10 indigenous pressurized heavy water reactors (PHWRs) totaling around 7,000 MW.

See report on this blog for May 23, 2017; India Sets Course for Nuclear Energy with New Build of Ten 700 MW PHWR; Emphasis is on Domestic Suppliers

NucNet India Nuclear

The PHWRs are scheduled to be progressively completed by 2031. The planned reactors are Kaiga-5 and -6 in Karnataka state, Chutka-1 and -2 in Madhya Pradesh, Mahi Banswara-1,-2,-3 and -4 in Rajasthan and Gorakhpur-3 and -4 in Haryana state, a facility officially known in India as the Gorakhpur Haryana Anu Vidyut Pariyojana nuclear station.

The total cost of constructing the reactors is estimated at $16.3bn at a constant price level, which excludes inflation and interest during construction, Mr Singh said. Materials for the units would be sourced in India, he said.

NRC Notes Developments in SMR Licensing

(NucNet): The lower capital costs of small modular reactors (SMRs) under 300 MWe may offer the US nuclear industry an attractive option to add new capacity with several entities are seeking to submit license applications for SMRs in the next several years, the US regulator said in its annual financial report for 2017.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is considering new safety rules for small modular nuclear reactors, new types of facilities that aim for faster permitting and construction, possibly relying on off-site development.

In a notice published in the Nov. 15 Federal Register, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission says it is not yet taking comment on the possible new rules, but will open a formal public comment period after a proposed rule is published. The NRC is releasing a “regulatory basis document” that lays out the case for new safety measures.

“There is sufficient justification to proceed with rulemaking to develop a clear set of rules and guidance for [emergency preparedness] for SMRs and ONTs,” the commission said.

In a report on this development by Utility Drive, it said the agency added that the document also concludes that “the principle of using a dose-at-distance and consequence-oriented approach to determine the appropriate size of an emergency planning zone can be applied to SMRs and ONTs.”

According to the basis document, new designs “typically have lower probabilities of severe accidents because of their smaller size or innovative safety features, which would also likely lower impacts to public health and safety from any radiological emergency.”

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission also said in its financial report that it needs to be prepared for the challenge of licensing new SMR designs. It noted that the US Department of Energy is funding a program “to design, certify and help commercialize SMRs in the US. The NRC is developing a licensing framework for these as well as other advanced reactors.

The NRC said market forces are putting pressure on nuclear operators to reduce operating costs. As a result, the the NRC needs to be prepared to address potential shutdowns of facilities before their licenses expire and to continue to ensure that oversight programs identify degrading facility safety and security performance.

The NRC is funded by licensing fees for design reviews of new reactors, licensing actions for existing reactors, and other regulatory actions. The costs of these reviews can run in the hundreds of millions of dollars. For this reason the Department of Energy has been providing funding for firms like NuScale to support the design and licensing of small modular reactors (SMRs).

Dominion To Apply For Second Life Extension At North Anna Nuclear Station

(NucNet): Dominion Energy Virginia has notified the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission that it intends to apply for a second 20-year life extension for the twin-reactor North Anna nuclear power station in Virginia. The company said it would file a license renewal application with the NRC in 2020, following a similar application to extend the operating lifetime of two reactors at the Surry nuclear station, also in Virginia, to 80 years.

Dominion said it expects to invest up to $4bn (€3.3bn) in upgrades to the two North Anna units and the two Surry units as part of the relicensing process.

The Washington-based Nuclear Energy Institute said that of the 99 commercial nuclear power reactors operating in the US, 84 have had their original 40-year operating licences extended to 60 years. Three others that were issued licence renewals have since shut down.

Another seven applications are under NRC review, and the remaining four are expected to apply between 2020 and 2022. By 2040, half of the nation’s nuclear plants will have been operating for 60 years. Under its second license renewal program, the industry is planning for a second round of license renewals to allow operation out to 80 years.

Lightbridge And Areva Sign Agreements On Development Of Nuclear Fuel Technology

(NucNet): US-based Lightbridge Corporation and Areva NP of France have signed three agreements to go ahead with development of Lightbridge’s metallic nuclear fuel technology while they finalize a planned joint venture.

Lightbridge said in a press statement that the agreements are an integral part of the joint venture, which is expected to begin operations in the first quarter of 2018. The agreements govern joint research and development activities, and ownership of intellectual property.

Lightbridge said its fuel technology is designed to significantly improve the economics and safety of existing and new nuclear power plants. The company said the agreements represent the first concrete step towards monetization of its intellectual property.

A technical review of the new fuel was published in MIT Technology Review in March 2017. A summary of its performance characteristics included this description.

“The fuel rods made by Lightbridge differ from today’s in several ways. Rather than a ceramic oxide of uranium, they’re made of a uranium-zirconium alloy that transports heat more easily. And rather than a tube that contains cylindrical uranium pellets, each one is a single piece of metal, ridged like a piece of licorice and spiraling in a helix. This shape allows more water to flow across the rod’s surface, transferring more heat and thus increasing electricity generation. The bigger surface area also increases the safety margin of the reactor core, allowing the rods to sustain nuclear reactions at much lower temperatures: their internal temperature during operation is around 360 °C, nearly 900 degrees cooler than conventional rods.”

In a press statement Areva said a joint venture (JV) will be the exclusive vehicle through which Lightbridge and AREVA NP will research, develop, demonstrate, fabricate, license, market and sell nuclear fuel assemblies that utilize Lightbridge’s proprietary metallic fuel designs and other advanced nuclear fuel intellectual property contributed by both Lightbridge and AREVA NP.

The JV’s activities will encompass the following types of commercial light water and research reactors:

  • Pressurized water reactors (excluding VVER reactor types, a specific type of pressurized water reactor)
  • Boiling water reactors
  • Light water-cooled small- and medium-sized reactors
  • Research reactors

Since 2011, Lightbridge says it has received valuable feedback on its fuel technology development through its Nuclear Utility Fuel Advisory Board, comprised of four leading U.S. nuclear utilities. Lightbridge also signed a letter of intent with a U.S. nuclear utility to demonstrate its fuel at a commercial nuclear power plant.

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New Milestones Achieved for SMR Development

  • NuScale Awards Steam Generator Prototype Contract to CANM
  • Terrestrial Energy IMSR gets first look for design review by CNSC
  • Jordan to Assess Potential for SMRs with Help from Rolls Royce

ctc nuscale logosNuScale Power, LLC (NuScale) and Concurrent Technologies Corporation (CTC) have announced the signing of the initial contract for the new Center for Advanced Nuclear Manufacturing (CANM), operated by CTC.

The contract covers prototype work for manufacturing NuScale’s helical coil steam generators, a major component in the NuScale design, now under certification review by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

History of Steam Generator Development

The significance of the announcement is that in 2015 NuScale successfully tested a full scale helical coil steam generator (HCSG) at the SIET S.p.A (SIET) facilities in Piacenza, Italy. The NuScale design includes a first-of-a-kind HCSG for conversion of nuclear heat into process steam.

nuscale steam generrator1

Diagram of NuScale’s Steam Generator

Testing of the full-length HCSG was conducted at prototypic fluid temperatures, pressures and flow rates to measure the steam generator’s thermal performance. The data is being used to validate NuScale’s computer codes and to help NuScale vendors optimize the performance of their steam turbines for a NuScale application.

Flow induced vibration testing was performed as part of the assessment. These tests provided important input to the NuScale Design Certification Application to the NRC in 2016. At the Winter Meeting of the American Nuclear Society, a spokesman for the firm said it plans to break ground in Idaho in 2023 for its first customer, UAMPS, at a site on the grounds of the Idaho National Laboratory.

nusccale2

Placement of Steam Generator in the NuScale Reactor

NuScale contracted the services of SIET for the full-scale testing of the HCSG performance over the expected range of reactor operating conditions. SIET has extensive experience with similar heat exchanger test bundle fabrication and testing for other reactor vendors.

“The fabrication, installation and subsequent testing of this full-length HCSG is an important step in the continued support of our reactor safety code development and validation, our reactor design, and our technology maturation to reduce first-of-a-kind risk,” stated Dr. Jose Reyes, NuScale’s Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer. “This is another key milestone for the development of our innovative technology.”

In the first phase of this multi-phase contract, CTC will demonstrate the manufacture of straight tubes of the maximum required length, demonstrate tube bending to prototypic final helical geometry with transition bends, and demonstrate helical tube bundle assembly.

Background on CANM

The concept for CANM, located in Johnstown, Pa., was endorsed by a working group of the U.S. Nuclear Infrastructure Council (NIC) as an advanced manufacturing research center. Through a search for the right organization to operate CANM, CTC emerged as the consensus choice based on a 30-year track record in advanced manufacturing. CANM officially opened during a ribbon-cutting ceremony on August 24, 2017.

“We have been making great progress with the network of companies and facilities that will be needed to manufacture the NuScale Power ModuleTM,” said Dale Atkinson, chief operating officer and chief nuclear officer for NuScale.

“The Center’s mission to apply advanced manufacturing approaches to our advanced SMR components fills an important gap needed to transition advanced nuclear energy and materials research and development to the shop floor, cost effectively and at the highest quality standards.”

CTC is an independent, nonprofit, applied scientific research and development professional services organization. Since its inception in 1987, CTC has gained extensive expertise in operating national centers of excellence. The company has a proven track record of solving first-of-a-kind manufacturing issues and successfully transitioning solutions to end-users. CANM will leverage a significant investment by the U.S. Government in CTC’s facilities, equipment, personnel and a network of manufacturing technology specialists.

“Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) and other Advanced Reactors (ARs) are extremely promising next-generation electricity sources for this nation, and NuScale is blazing the trail,” said Ed Sheehan, Jr., president and chief executive officer of CTC.

“We are excited to begin this important work and demonstrate the quality and efficiency advanced manufacturing can bring to this new energy technology.”

Terrestrial Energy IMSR First Commercial Advanced Reactor Assessed by Regulator

Terrestrial Energy, a developer of an advanced reactor design, has received notice from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) that it has successfully completed the first phase of the CNSC’s pre-licensing vendor design review for its Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) nuclear power plant design.

Terrestrial Energy was the first advanced reactor vendor to enter the regulatory process in Canada, and now the first to have its design assessed. The firm hopes to deploy its first commercial unit within the next decade.

imsr timeline

Terrestrial Energy IMSR Development Timeline

According to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, a Pre-Licensing Vendor Design Review is an optional service provided by the CNSC when requested by a vendor.

A pre-licensing vendor design review is an assessment of a nuclear power plant design based on a vendor’s reactor technology. The words “pre-licensing” signifies that a design review is undertaken prior to the submission of a licence application to the CNSC by an applicant seeking to build and operate a new nuclear power plant.

This review does not certify a reactor design or involve the issuance of a licence under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, and it is not required as part of the licensing process for a new nuclear power plant. The conclusions of any design review do not bind or otherwise influence decisions made by the Commission.

The objective of a review is to verify, at a high level, the acceptability of a nuclear power plant design with respect to Canadian nuclear regulatory requirements and expectations, as well as Canadian codes and standards. These reviews also identify fundamental barriers to licensing a new design in Canada and assures that a resolution path exists for any design issues identified in the review.

A vendor who has completed a phase 2 pre-licensing vendor design review, has committed to increased regulatory efficiencies at the time of licensing. The results of Phase 2 will be taken into account mainly for the Construction Licence Application and is likely to result in increased efficiencies of technical reviews.

The CNSC’s vendor design review verifies that the reactor’s design meets the basic requirements for a nuclear power plant in Canada but does not certify or license the reactor.

Terrestrial Energy Chief Executive Officer Simon Irish said: “Completing phase 1 of the vendor design review – the first advanced reactor to do so – is a landmark achievement. It places the company as an early leader in a fast growing technology sector.”

Commercializing an advanced reactor power plant design such as the IMSR involves a range of activities that must be undertaken at an early stage to support deployment. These include regulatory and industrial engagement, site selection, and government support.

terrestrial_energy_system_layout_0

Conceptual View of the Terrestrial Energy IMSR

Terrestrial Energy is studying the feasibility of a number of sites in North America, including Canadian Nuclear Laboratories at Chalk River, Ontario, as well as the Idaho National Laboratory in the U.S., for building its first commercial power plant.

The IMSR power plant design is the first and only advanced reactor power plant project to enter the invitation-only stage of the U.S. Department of Energy’s loan guarantee program for construction financing support, with Idaho National Laboratory under consideration as a lead site.

“International energy agencies recognize that intermittent renewables such as wind and solar alone cannot meet all the demands of a global clean energy system and agree that nuclear energy will play a critical role in meeting our future energy needs. Advanced reactors offer a new and transformative set of nuclear technologies that are zero-emission, have far greater industrial application, and make nuclear power plants more economical and easier to finance” Irish said.

Other Advanced SMRs in Preliminary Design Review at CNSC

The following table presents an overview of vendors who have applied for pre-licensing engagement with the CNSC using the vendor design review process for their new reactor designs. Vendor design review is described in CNSC guidance document GD-385, Pre-licensing Review of a Vendor’s Reactor Design.

The duration of each review is estimated based on the vendor’s proposed schedule. A Phase 1 review typically takes 12–18 months and a Phase 2 review takes 24 months.

cnsc design reviews

Executive summaries, which do not include proprietary details, are available on the CNSC website for review.

Jordan to Assess Potential for SMRs with Help from Rolls Royce

Jordan is conducting a feasibility study to establish of two Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) in Jordan for the production of electricity and water desalination, Vice Chairman of Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC), Kamal Araj in revealed on 11/14/17.

Araj’s remarks came during his participation in the annual meeting of the International Framework for Nuclear Energy Cooperation (IFNEC) held  in Paris last week.

In his speech at the meeting, the JAEC commissioner said that building the SMRs comes in partnership with the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KACARE) and the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI).

This step comes as part of the JAEC plans to diversify of reactor design options which include for example, compact micro-reactors, studies on spent nuclear fuel and nuclear fuel disposal methods, Araj told Petra’s reporter.

At the meeting, Araj said: “Jordan believes that strengthening global partnerships plays a pivotal role in the development of the nuclear infrastructure needed to successfully implement national nuclear energy programs, particularly with regard to the development of the legal and regulatory framework for all nuclear activities, including the export of nuclear material, equipment, and systems that are consistent with international standards.”

The commissioner stressed the importance of by engaging local industries by at least 20 percent in the construction of upcoming Jordan’s nuclear reactor in line with competitiveness criteria in terms of price and quality.

On the sidelines of the meeting, Araj signed a memorandum of understanding with the British “Rolls- Royce” company to conduct a joint feasibility study to build a reactor designed by a special coalition led by the company.

According to WNN in September 2014 Jordan’s JAEC signed a project development agreement with Rusatom Overseas for two 1000 MW VVERs. Two yeasrs later in 2016 Rosatom said the target date for operation of the first unit is 2023, with the second one 2024-25. The two will contribute 48% of Jordan’s electricity and enable exports to Syria and Iraq.

Financing for the twin VVERs remains uncertain with Rosatom taking a 51% share of the costs. So far Jordan has not been able to obtain commitments from other equity investors for the project which is expected to cost $8-10 billion for the two reactors.

At one time Jordan offered to provide access to uranium deposits in the n the Hasa-Qatrana area as a means of financing the effort. However, both Areva and Rio Tinto, after prospecting the area, declined to enter into development efforts.

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Off Topic ~ Wild Winds Bring Havoc to Cleveland

Northeast Ohio experienced eight tornadoes and straight line winds on Sunday 11/5. Unseasonably warm weather setup the potential for severe storms as a strong cold front moved into the area.

cle storm map 11 5 17

Storm Radar for Northeast Ohio 1830 HRS 2017 11 05

Due to loss of electrical power, Internet, and phone service from Sunday 11/5 until Thursday 11/9 there will not be any new content on NeutronBytes until next week.

NWS Report on Tornados in Ohio on 11/5

Cleveland television Station WKYC News reports (video) that the National Weather Service is investigating Sunday’s storm damage to determine how many tornadoes impacted the area. As of Monday evening, the Weather Service confirms eight tornadoes within the Cleveland forecast area (including northern Ohio and western PA).

This type of weather is unseasonable for this time of year. It was caused by the impact of a strong, fast moving, cold front hitting warm moist air that had been hovering over northeast Ohio for several days.

The Weather Service also says a macroburst of wind hit Williamsfield in Ashtabula County, located 60 miles east of Cleveland, (map) with winds up to 125 mph.  In Macedonia, OH, located 25 miles southeast of downtown Cleveland, (map) a local weather station reported winds of up to 104 mph causing extensive damage to homes and businesses.

tornados CLE 20171105

Typical Damage in Macedonia

The high winds literally cut tress in half toppling matures oak and pine trees like they were match sticks. The pine tree in the center was clipped in half and the oak tree behind it was split into several pieces.

macedonia damage

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that 37,000 people lost power due to the storm. Lightning strikes started several fires.  Several Interstate highways were closed for periods of time due to high water.

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Posted in Nuclear

Hall Talk Reports from ANS Winter Meeting

  • Production Credits for Small Modular Reactors
  • Hybrid Systems & Process Heat Applications
  • Nuclear Start Ups
  • Nuclear and the News Media

Production Tax Credit is a Key Success Factor for SMRs

  • Interview with Matt Bowen, and Ashley Finan, Nuclear Innovation Alliance

Matt Bowen holds a Ph.D. in high energy physics which led him to an interest in nuclear energy policy. He’s the author of a recent recent report on small modular reactors (SMRs) published by the Nuclear Innovation Alliance (NIA). The report, previously profiled here on Neutron Byes, contains a series of recommendations to promote the market for SMRs.

I asked Bowen to name his number one recommendation. He replied that an expansion of the production tax credit for new reactors is a key financial success factor. Beyond that Bowen would like to see power purchase agreement with federal facilities including national labs, utilities like TVA, and military bases that favored SMRs.

At the same time Bowen said that getting congressional attention on these issues in the tax bill may be a challenge since advocates for renewable energy technologies will undoubtedly weigh in against a pro-nuclear tax policy. Bowen added that he’s referring to interests that advocate a 100% renewables solution to decarbonizing the electric grid.

Two other events could have a drag effect on congressional support. The first is the cancellation of the V.C. Summer plant that was supposed to build and bring online 2200 MW of CO2 emission free nuclear power. The second is the bankruptcy of Westinghouse which is the key supplier on the project. It’s not clear how much support for nuclear energy exists in Congress for expansion of these credits for full size reactors or SMRs. 

In a discussion about prospects for SMRs in the U.S. I asked Bowen where else besides Idaho, which is slated to be the home of NuScale’s first SMR, that SMRs might flourish. Bowen said that prospects in deregulated states, merchant markets, seem poor. However, he noted that earlier this year Wisconsin removed its three decade old ban on new nuclear power plants and might be receptive to an SMR being located there.

One area where uncertainty remains is the question of how many SMRs a vendor needs on their order book before investors will put up the money to fund construction of a factor to turn them out in large numbers. Estimates range from a low of just 10 (former Energy Secretary Steven Chu), to up to 40 (Rolls Royce in the U.K.). Bowen said it is still to early to say what certainty that number will be.

Speaking of the the U.K. Bowen noted that the recent SMR competition, which held out a “prize” of $250M is not enough to get the market going in that country. Recent press reports indicate that Rolls Royce will be name the winner.

sms in dev

SMRs in active development. Source: Nuclear Energy Insider November 2017

Asked to name an advanced nuclear reactor developer in the U.S. that intrigues him, Bowen mentioned Kairos Power. According to its website Kairos Power technology uses a novel combination of existing technologies to achieve new levels of economy, safety, flexibility, modularity and security for nuclear power production: the Fluoride Salt Cooled, High Temperature Reactor (FHR). The fuel is based on uranium. The design is intended to support load following.

In the policy realm Bowen says the U.S. must reclaim its technological leadership role, especially with SMRs, if it wants to have a credible voice globally on nonproliferation issues.

Ashley Finan, Bowen’s colleague at NIA, holds a Ph.D. in nuclear science and is an advocate for the use of SMRs for high temperature process heat applications.  In her interview with this blog, and later at an ANS panel, Finan said there is a high potential for SMRs to served non-electricity applications.

To address the complex licensing applications that would result from multiple uses, she called for regulatory reform to “stage” licensing so that as each use of reactor heat is ready to come on line the utility can update the license rather than trying to authorize all uses all at once.

She calls this a “modular approach” to standard design approval. The idea is that the sum of all applications represent the total heat available from the reactor. She said that regulatory complexity needs to be streamlined.

How Mature are Advanced SMR Development Efforts?

The NIA cited work done by several Department of Energy national labs on technology readiness levels (TRLs) or various design elements of SMRs.  The concept of TRLs was developed by NASA to assess how ready its technologies were for the rigors of space flight.

While the table below shows relative low numbers for some design elements, it also represents an opportunity.

smr trls niaEvery one of the rows in this table is really an element of the supply chain of design efforts to deliver a TRL score of 6 or more for advanced SMRs.  It would seem to be a reasonable strategy for DOE to fund and parcel out work on each of them to its national labs, based on their core competencies, in a complex-wide effort to move the commercial delivery date of advanced reactors from the mid-2040s to the early 2030s.

If TerraPower can set forth plans to meet that milestone, early 2030s, of shipping a commercial version of its advanced reactor, in collaboration with Chinese nuclear energy experts, why can’t others, with DOE help, do the same?

Hybrid Systems & Process Heat Applications

During the same panel, Shannon Bragg-Sitton, a Ph.D., nuclear scientist from the Idaho National Laboratory, talked about the development of an advanced simulation tool to model “hybrid systems” of nuclear reactors for both electricity and non-electrical applications and load following to work with renewables.

hybrid systems nia

Model of a hybrid system. Source: Shannon Bragg-Sitton, INL

In a separate session on nuclear startups, John Kutsch of Terrestrial Energy also thinks the market for process heat is the way to go for SMRs based on advanced technologies. Key applications include process heat for heavy industry, petrochemicals, and for hydrogen production via steam reforming. Desalinization i also a good prospect.

“Renewables and natural gas degrade the markets for electricity. The real product of a nuclear reactor is heat”

Terrestrial Energy is developing a molten salt reactor to serve process heat applications as well as electricity generation.

Startups & SMRs

In the next panel Mark Shaver, a nuclear engineer at NuScale, predicted the firm would break ground in Idaho in 2023. He said the key success factor for NuScale in making rapid progress with its light water type design is having a test facility at Oregon State University.

He also endorsed a staged approach to licensing each application rather than “tossing 1000s of comments back to the applicant at the end of a long and expensive process.”

Nuclear Energy and the News Media

In a panel on nuclear energy and the media, a group of very experienced DC-based journalists agreed with the premise that covering the industry is very complicated.

Amy Harder, formerly a reporter with the Wall Street Journal, and now with the online news service AXIOS, said that folks on the nuclear side need to be patient in dealing with the news media.

“Our goal is to get the facts right. Allow us time to work through an issue to explain it.”

Jonathan Landay, a reporter with Reuters, added that journalists will ask a lot of questions.

“We’re not stenographers,” and he added that good reporters will follow the facts where ever it takes them.

But he added that reporters do make mistakes and the Internet is great for getting corrections.

“If you have a concern about something a reporter has written, look them up and get in touch,” he said.

Rebecca Kern, a reporter ith the Bloomberg wire service, admonished nuclear engineers to “speak to reporters in plain English. This will help us do our job better.”

Amy Harder added “we don’t have an agenda so don’t be afraid to talk to us.”

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Posted in Nuclear | 2 Comments

Advanced Nuclear Designs Imagined in Third Way Exhibit

  • adv nuc energyThe Washington, DC, think tank Third Way has commissioned a stunning collection of six possible use cases and artistic renderings of how advanced nuclear reactor technologies would fit in various communities.
  • The images and uses cases are online in a new web page that is now part of the Third Way’s innovative advocacy effort for clean energy.
  • Considerable technical expertise was brought in as part of the development effort from the INL’s GAIN program and the sustainable design team of the Gensler Design office in Washington, DC.
TW_CatalystForCleanGrowth1

Catalyst for Clean Growth Scenario

Just prior to the kickoff of the Winter Meeting of the American Nuclear Society (ANS) in Washington, DC, on October 28th, the Third Way Clean Energy Program unveiled an imaginative collection of images and use cases, or scenarios, of  six possible ways advanced reactors can improve life on the planet.  hashtag #NuclearReimagined

Advanced nuclear has the potential to solve climate change and growing energy demand in emerging economies. Yet, to date, there have been little to no images or drawings created to illustrate how advanced nuclear energy works, and what applications it could be used for.

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Remote Arctic Scenario

Some of the other scenarios to be unveiled at the event include a large energy park that supports desalination and hydrogen production, and a transportation hub for electric vehicles and other types of electrified transportation.

Nuclear Re-imagined

Advanced nuclear technologies can propel the world toward our climate goals by providing affordable, zero-carbon electricity and heat; supporting the growth of renewable energy sources; and supplying clean energy for water desalination, hydrogen production, and other processes that will be vital in creating a low-carbon economy.

But a picture is worth a thousand words. Despite the huge impact advanced reactors could have on climate efforts when they start hitting the market in less than a decade, we have few images to help us understand where and how they’ll fit into our communities.

That’s why Third Way partnered with the distinguished sustainable design team in Gensler’s Washington, DC office to visually tell the story of advanced nuclear and put its potential into perspective.

These architectural sketches and renderings explain the important roles that advanced reactors will play in a variety of energy systems. And the innovative designs of new reactors allowed us to show nuclear energy integrated into communities like never before.

Advanced nuclear is on the horizon. Now, with these images, we have a better sense of what we can look forward to.

Images and Scenarios

Gensler worked with staff from the Third Way and experts from the Idaho National Laboratory to come up images for six “scenarios” where nuclear could provide low-carbon power. These include;

  • A remote arctic community, off the power grid, where electricity is expensive due to use of diesel powered generators
  • A clean transit hub, at which a small modular reactor powers rail lines, personal electric vehicles, shared autonomous vehicles, and electric buses;
  • For communities in the developing world where large-scale reactors provide power, and whose excess capacity is used for an onsite desalination plant to provide clean water, an essential commodity for life;
  • A high-temperature reactor to power and process heat for heavy industries;
  • A navy base, where advanced reactors generate around the clock electricity and power ships docked at port; and
  • Reliable 24 x 7 power for data centers to keep the Internet alive.

A Partnership Between Third Way & GAIN

Third way logoAt the Third Way Suzy Hobbs Baker was one of the drivers of the project. In an interview at the exhibit opening held at the Fathom Gallery in downtown Washington, DC, on October 28th, Baker says Third Way is targeting three audiences with its renderings: policy makers, the press, and the nuclear sector itself, which could use the illustrations in discussions about the future of nuclear power.

“Our purpose is to produce a different and engaging look at advanced reactors. We wanted to visualize at the front end and show how these facilities would be integrated into various communities.  Our focus is on both design aesthetics and function.”

“We want the general public to become curious about these images and use cases and the story they tell about advanced nuclear energy.  Second, we want to hear feedback from developers of advanced nuclear designs about these images.”

“Overall, we think these images will inspire people.”

She notes that much of what you see in these images was brought to life by Gensler’s Sustainability Team in their Washington, DC, office.  An excellent description of how that process worked successfully is found in the October 30, 2017, blog post at the Building Design & Construction website.

According to the article, the Gensler agreed to accept Third Way’s commission “because we’re interested in being part of this conversation,” says Duncan Lyons, RIBA, LEED AP BD+C, a Senior Associate and Office Building Developers Practice Area Leader, who was the lead designer on this project.

Other Gensler associates who worked on the renderings and sketches include Gregory Plavcan, Matthew Boland, Liz Resenic, and Katie Costa.

Baker says that Gensler’s work for Third Way included a range of nuclear power plant designs. She explains, “We wanted a fresh eye on the topic.”

Baker adds that Gensler’s designs typically emphasize sustainability, so the decision to commission them to do the work “was an alignment of values.”

“Gensler was the only team, out of several that we talked to when developing this project which was interested in nuclear systems and had given the issue some thought.  Each case that they worked with us to develop refers both to the application and the community in which it is located.”

One of the strengths of some of the cases is that they illustrate the use of hybrid systems, which are the matching of nuclear power with renewable energy applications.

Idaho National Lab brings an “A” Team to the Task

gain logoThird Way had help from several people at the Idaho National Laboratory in developing the technical basis for the use cases.  They include Todd Allen, who previously had led the work at the INL on its National Science User Facility (the ATR reactor), Rita Baranwal, Director of the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN), and Shannon Bragg-Sitton, Manager of the Systems Integration Dept., in INL’s Nuclear Systems Design & Analysis Division.

Hobbs describes Bragg-Sitton’s role as being “a visionary in developing the technical concepts for the hybrid systems use cases.”

In a presentation at the ANS Winter Meeting Brag-Sitton said that it is well known that a reduction in greenhouse gas could be achieved by non-emitting variable renewable resources like solar and wind.

However, she added that among other impacts, increased use of variable renewables can result in a requirement for baseload generators to operate in a load-following mode.

The image below illustrates Bragg-Sitton’s point.  Source: Nuclear Innovation Alliance report “Enabling Nuclear Innovation – Leading on SMRs” (PDF file)

smr load follow wind

Integration of nuclear and renewable generators in a hybrid energy system (N-R/HES) is being considered as an option to meet both electrical and thermal energy needs.

Bragg-Sitton added that the conceptual N-R/HES share many of the same requirements as observed for space power systems, likely also to be designed for multipurpose application.

rita and suzy at 3W

Left: Rita Baranwal, Director of GAIN at INL. Right: Suzy Hobbs Baker, Communications Adviser, Third Way; standing in front of one of the use scenarios unveiled October 28th in Washington, DC.

Rita Baranwal told this blog in an interview held at the Third Way exhibit that “very creative thinkers (like Bragg-Sitton)” helped develop the multiple scenarios behind the use cases.

Baranwal said that her staff in the GAIN program along with nuclear engineers and scientists at the lab, “consulted extensively on the Third Way project.”

“Our goal is to communicate with the public about advanced nuclear energy technologies”

Todd Allen, who is a professor of nuclear engineering at the University of Wisconsin, spent a year working at the Third Way and contributed his expertise to the advanced nuclear reactor use cases.

He told this blog in an interview at the Third Way exhibit, “the use cases are really crucial to communicate the ideas across.”

Allen points to a new web page at the Third Way which updates its materials describing various advanced nuclear technologies.

And Joshua Freed, Vice President for Clean Energy Programs at Third Way, told this blog  that “the future of advanced nuclear energy will be informed by these images.”

Freed is looking at options to put the images on the road to display them at university nuclear engineering programs, and possibly at public venues like libraries and shopping centers.

Perhaps these images will inspire nuclear engineering graduates to want to work for developers of advanced nuclear technologies?

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ANS Winter Meeting starts 10/28 in DC

The American Nuclear Society Winter Meeting kicks off this coming Sunday 10/28/17 at the Marriott Wardman Park with a week’s worth of high tech sessions and hobnobbing about nuclear energy.

Check out or download the program (PDF file) for location and times for all topical, regular and special sessions as there is something for everyone. Here are a few highlights.

Note: the Twitter Hash Tag for the meeting is #ANSMeeting  Please use it to share with others what you are hearing and seeing at the conference. Follow it for conference news.

Sunday is full of committee meetings so if you are a member of one of the technical divisions or on one of the governance committees, this is your day to roll up your sleeves to work on what’s next for ANS. Many of these meetings are open so if you have an interest in getting involved, these are the places to show up.

All About Communications

ans social media team

I’ll be giving a presentation at the 2 PM meeting on Sunday of the ANS Social Media Team on the subject of “success factors for pro-nuclear blogs.”  Here’a  copy of my slides PDF file

This is an open meeting for people interested in working with social media as volunteers on ANS projects and programs. It is a planning meeting for that purpose and not a conference session or discussion forum. The location is Washington Room #5.

At 4 PM the ANS Public Communications Committee will meet. If you have any advice for the committee on how the society should be communicating to policy makers, the media, and the public, please post them in the comments.  I’ll pass it along.

At 6 PM Sunday one of the high points of the conference is the ANS Presidents’ Opening Reception. Not only will you get to meet all your friends from past conferences, you also get to eat, drink, chat with friends, and talk to the exhibitors. Bring your business cards. It is a great session for networking.

Staying with the communications theme, on Tuesday there are two back-to-back sessions in the afternoon on communications with policy makers and the news media. Both sessions are scheduled to be in the Hoover Room starting at 1 PM.

Learn What It Takes to Be in a Nuclear Energy Start-up

nuclear-flag.jpgIf you are excited about nuclear entrepreneurs and start-ups working on advanced nuclear energy projects, then starting at 4:30 PM Tuesday:

General Chair’s Special Session: Career Opportunities for Next Generations of Nuclear Engineers and Scientists in Advanced Reactor Markets
Chair: Ty Troutman (Bechtel)
Location: Marriott 3 Time: 4:30-6:40 pm

Over the last decade there have been many start-up companies in Advanced Reactor technologies -both fission and fusion. This panel of industry executives from
start-up companies will discuss what it takes to start a technology development effort, access challenges (financing, resources, and organization), and identify
opportunities for young generations of nuclear engineers and scientists.

Speakers: Patrick McGrath (Associate Director of Technology, ARPA-E)
Leslie Dewan (CEO, Transatomic Power)
David Dabney (CEO, StarCore)
Harlan Bowers (President, X-Energy),
Mike Laufer (CEO, Kairos Power)

Note that the U.S. Department of Energy ARPA-E program has just announced a $20 million fund to identify and develop innovative technologies that can enable designs for lower cost, safer, advanced nuclear reactors.  If this area of the industry interests you, don’t miss this session!

Meet & Greet Readers of this Blog

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I’ll be at the conference from late Saturday afternoon through Tuesday evening. I look forward to meeting readers of this blog and hearing their stories about what’s happening in their worlds about nuclear energy.

Tweet to me @djysrv  if you want to say “hi.” I’ll open up my feed to receive direct messages from people who don’t follow it.

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South Korea Panel Votes to Restart Nuclear Reactor Projects

(NucNet): South Korea is expected to resume the stalled construction of two nuclear reactors after a state commission recommended doing so despite president Moon Jae-in’s campaign promise to scrap the projects.

The commission, composed of 471 citizens, said 59.5% of its members supported resuming building the Shin Kori-5 and Shin Kori-6 reactors, near the southeastern city of Ulsan and under construction since last year. However, 53.2% of the members were in favour of the government policy to reduce nuclear power generation.

The commission was established to look into plans announced by president Moon to suspend construction of the two reactors for three months as part of a government policy to phase out nuclear power in South Korea, whose 24 commercial reactor units are responsible for about 30% of electricity supply.

Reports said KHNP has already spent about $1.4bn (€1.2bn) on construction of the two pressurized water reactors and there might be legal and compensation issues if construction was completely halted.

Other media reports said “nearly 30% of construction of the two reactors that was estimated to cost $7.5bn has been completed so far.” South Korean media reported on October 20, 2017 that construction is expected to resume next week because the government is likely to endorse the recommendation in a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

Additional Coverage

Pro-nuclear energy activist Michael Shellenberger, MD,
Praises South Korean Decision

In a blog post, he writes, “In a stunning come-from-behind victory, South Korean citizens on a special jury voted 60 percent to 40 percent to re-start construction of two halted nuclear reactors.

Environmental Progress applauds the citizens jury for choosing wisdom over ideology, and praises South Korean President Moon Jae-in for honoring their decision. EP especially applauds the university students, professors, and workers who protested and fought for a re-start to construction.”

The size of the victory was as unexpected as the victory itself. The minority of South Koreans who told Shellenberger last week that they thought pro-nuclear forces would win thought it would be by the thinnest of margins.

Sources close to the decision said that the nearly 500 citizens on the jury were polled four times before the final vote, and that support for the pro-nuclear position grew each time.

Moreover, the youth vote — citizen jurors in the 20s and 30s — changed their mind more than did older voters. This is especially significant since young people were President Moon’s base of support in his electoral victory last May.

South Korean President Doubles Down on Plans to Phase Out Nuclear Energy

(Reuters) South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in said 10/22/17 the government will continue to phase out nuclear-generated electricity, following a public opinion survey that dealt a blow to his plans to do so.

“We will completely stop all plans for the construction of new nuclear reactors like the government previously stated. The government will also step up usage of natural gas and renewables in order to maintain its stance of phasing out nuclear-generated power.”

Moon also reiterated his plan to shut down the Wolsong No. 1 nuclear reactor, the nation’s second-oldest, once the government confirms stability in energy supplies.

The 697-megawatt reactor in southeastern South Korea was taken offline in 2012 after reaching its 30-year lifespan, but the regulator approved a restart a few years ago until 2022.

South Korea has 24 nuclear reactors, supplying a third of its electricity.

It is believed that Moon plans to work with Russia to build an undersea natural gas pipeline from Sakhalin Island.

Realistically, there isn’t that can be done in the US about political trends in South Korea regarding nuclear energy. Moon’s political history includes a proposal for peaceful reunification of North & South Korea. Moon’s family came to South Korea as refugees from the North.

His history of political activism includes campaigns to root out corruption among the nation’s corporate and government elites. His attacks on nuclear energy should be seen as attacks on the business establishment rather than opposition to the technology.

Moon has accepted the vote of the citizens panel to restart construction of the two Shin Kori 1400 MW PWRs. However, he has also pledged to seek closure of aging nuclear reactors and not allow any other new starts. He’s not backing down.

The U.S. 1-2-3 Agreement with South Korea is mostly concerned with that nation’s plans for management of its spent nuclear fuel from the current fleet of commercial reactors and its target markets for export of its light water reactors.

South Africa Approves Eskom’s Duynefontein Nuclear Site

NucNet) South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) has granted permission to state-owned utility Eskom to proceed with its plans for a proposed new-build project at the Duynefontein site, Eskom said in a statement. The DEA has approved Eskom’s final environmental impact report for the Duynefontein site, which is near the existing Koeberg nuclear station on the southwest coast of South Africa.

Dave Nicholls, Eskom’s chief executive officer, said the company welcomes the DEA’s decision and sees it as a ”milestone” in the development of South Africa’s nuclear program. He said Eskom considers both the Duynefontein and Thyspunt sites as equally capable to host its Nuclear-1 new-build project, although the company has worked on Thyspunt as the preferred option.

South Africa is aiming to build up to 9,600 MW of new nuclear capacity. The two-unit Koeberg nuclear station outside Cape Town is the country’s only commercially operating nuclear station. In April 2017, Eskom’s nuclear program experienced a setback when a high court declared a number of procurement deals with Russia, China, the US, South Korea and France illegal. Last month, Eskom said it was ready to restart the procurement process, but determining the exact timing was up to the South African government.

The South African government’s efforts have been distracted by political controversies sparked by ANC President ZUMA who has hired and fired three finance ministers and two energy ministers. Charges of corruption and the hiring of relatives of Zuma’s close political supporters have also created a media frenzy about the nuclear action.

It remains unclear how South Africa will pay for the reactors. The country is officially in a recession and had, as a result a high rate of unemployment.

Akkuyu Construction Permit Expected By Early 2018, Says Turkish Minister

(NucNet) The Turkish Atomic Energy Authority (Taek) is working on the construction licensing process for the country’s first nuclear power station at Akkuyu with construction now scheduled to begin at the end of 2017 or in early 2018, Turkish energy minister Berat Albayrak was quoted by the state-run Anadolu news agency as saying.

The €20bn ($23.6bn) Akkuyu, near Mersin on Turkey’s southern Mediterranean coast, is to be built in cooperation with Russia under a contract signed in 2010. The station will have four 1,200-MW VVER units with the first expected to come online in 2023.

UK Announces Plans To Invest £460 Million In Nuclear Energy

(NucNet) The UK government has put forward key proposals for decarbonising all sectors of the country’s economy through the 2020s, including investing £460m (€517m, $611m) in the nuclear energy sector to support work in areas including future nuclear fuels, new nuclear manufacturing techniques, recycling and reprocessing, and advanced reactor design.

The government’s ‘Clean Growth Strategy’, which explains how the country can benefit from low-carbon opportunities while meeting commitments to tackle climate change, says the costs of nuclear power need to be brought down through developing new materials and manufacturing processes, and exploring the opportunities of new fuels and reactor designs.

The strategy says it could be possible to increase low-carbon sources such as renewables and nuclear to over 80% of electricity generation – up from around 45% today – and phase out unabated coal power.

FirstEnergy nuclear charges still before Ohio lawmakers

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that FirstEnergy’s legislative supporters have introduced a new bill in the Ohio House that would create special customer charges to subsidize the company’s nuclear power plants because they cannot compete with new ultra-efficient gas turbine power plants.

House Bill 381 would cost customers less than an earlier proposal — adding about $2.50 a month or $30 a year to consumer bills. That’s about half what the company originally asked for.

Commercial and industrial customers would have to pay an additional 5 percent on top of their monthly bill, or $3,500, whichever is lesser, under the new legislation.

The proposal would give the company about $180 million a year in money earmarked for Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear plants  for the next 12 years. The company had sought $300 million a year for 16 years.

State Rep. Anthony DeVitis, a Republican from Green, introduced both H.B. 381 and the earlier H.B. 178, which drew heavy opposition and concern among lawmakers facing re-election next year.

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