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Advanced nuclear reactors need the government to create a market – nuclear loves socialism

……….………. Advanced reactors are in a position where they need a HALEU supply for commercialization of their technology to be possible, but there needs to be commercial market with demand for the fuel in place for the HALEU supply to get off the ground, according to nuclear engineer Matthew Corradini, a professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin. “It’s a chicken and egg situation,” he said

One solution proposed by NEI is for the federal government to create the market ………….

Nuclear reactors of the future have a fuel problem, Utility Dive

Higher levels of uranium enrichment can unlock value from smaller and simpler reactors, but they come with new hurdles that the nuclear industry says only the federal government can address. Aug. 30, 2021 By Matthew Bandyk

President Joe Biden entered office being hailed by nuclear power advocates as perhaps the most pro-nuclear-energy president ever. He followed up his campaign trail discussions of nuclear energy as a necessary source of carbon-free emissions with a budget that proposed a record-setting $1.85 billion for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy

But many in the nuclear industry are concerned that the budget does not sufficiently address a problem that could prevent nuclear reactors of the future from being able to function. The impasse would stand even if technological advancements to make nuclear energy technology cheaper and easier to operate are realized. Some of the most prominent of these next-generation reactor designs can only run on a fuel for which there is no commercial supply chain currently — and building that supply chain could take years and lots of political will, according to reactor developers and nuclear fuel supply companies alike.

The nuclear industry, beset by massive cost overruns in the construction of current-generation reactors, has placed its hopes for new nuclear capacity in “advanced” or “next-generation” reactor designs, a broad category that includes everything from smaller versions of conventional light-water reactors to designs that eschew water entirely in favor of other cooling substances in the nuclear core like helium or salt. These reactors have the potential to help achieve decarbonization goals [an unlikely claim, and certainly not in time for the urgent climate need] by replacing fossil fuel plants, powering the production of clean hydrogen and firming renewable energy, among other possibilities. Several companies are developing designs and targeting deployment of their first commercial demonstration projects over the next decade.

Both the Biden and Trump administrations have supported research and development efforts toward advanced reactors, and Congress has passed legislation intended to streamline the regulatory path ahead. But the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), the primary trade association for the nuclear industry, argues that if advanced reactors are to succeed, the federal government needs to do much more to create a domestic market for this fuel. “The commercialization of many advanced nuclear technologies is in jeopardy,” NEI President and CEO Maria Korsnick said in a 2020 letter to then-U.S. Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette.

The biggest policy change advocated by NEI is for the federal government to sign a contract with a nuclear fuel supplier to essentially create a new market.

Both the Biden and Trump administrations have supported research and development efforts toward advanced reactors, and Congress has passed legislation intended to streamline the regulatory path ahead. But the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), the primary trade association for the nuclear industry, argues that if advanced reactors are to succeed, the federal government needs to do much more to create a domestic market for this fuel. “The commercialization of many advanced nuclear technologies is in jeopardy,” NEI President and CEO Maria Korsnick said in a 2020 letter to then-U.S. Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette.

What is HALEU?

What most of the advanced reactor developers seeking Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approval have in common, however, is that they would not be fueled by the form of uranium used in most nuclear power plants operating around the world today. Rather, they would use a form that is more highly enriched — or, to be more specific, has been made into a more fissionable form by using technology such as centrifuges to alter the balance of protons and neutrons in the uranium……….

TerraPower, the Bill Gates-funded startup that is developing the Natrium sodium fast reactor with GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, is also banking on HALEU. While, at 345-MW, the Natrium reactor is much larger than Oklo’s, TerraPower’s design also relies on the high uranium-235 content of HALEU to allow the reactor to run efficiently, particularly when ramping up or down to follow changes in load driven by renewable energy. TerraPower declined to comment for this story. The startup and Centrus have said they plan to work together to expand HALEU production after Centrus’s DOE contract ends in 2022.

……………….. Advanced reactors are in a position where they need a HALEU supply for commercialization of their technology to be possible, but there needs to be commercial market with demand for the fuel in place for the HALEU supply to get off the ground, according to nuclear engineer Matthew Corradini, a professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin. “It’s a chicken and egg situation,” he said

One solution proposed by NEI is for the federal government to create the market ………….   https://www.utilitydive.com/news/nuclear-reactors-of-the-future-have-a-fuel-problem/604707/

September 2, 2021 - Posted by | politics, technology, USA

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