The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Collaboration to try and market Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs)

 GE Hitachi, Holtec Announce Cooperation to Accelerate Commercialization of SMR-160 Small Modular Reactor, Power Magazine 
02/14/2018  GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH), Global Nuclear Fuel (GNF), Holtec International and SMR Inventec, LLC (SMR, LLC), today announced a collaboration to advance the SMR‐160, a single loop, 160 MWe pressurized light water reactor based on existing light water technologies.In a Memorandum of Understanding, the companies have agreed to enter into a procompetitive collaboration to progress the SMR-160 which SMR, LLC intends to develop, design, license, commercialize, deploy and service globally. The cooperation will initially include nuclear fuel development supported by GNF and control rod drive mechanisms designed by GEH, and may later extend to other areas.

“We are excited to leverage the experience and capabilities of world class nuclear companies like GEH and GNF as we bring our game changing SMR-160 technology to global markets,” said Holtec President and CEO Dr. Kris Singh. “SMR-160 has prioritized safety in its design, to produce a right-sized, passively safe and cost-effective solution for carbon-free energy. This collaboration will ensure the SMR-160 supply chain, to deliver and fabricate critical SMR-160 technologies and components, including at our new Advanced Manufacturing Division in Camden, New Jersey.”……


February 16, 2018 Posted by | marketing, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

The uneconomic Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility to be closed- Dept of Energy seeks funding for this

DOE budget seeks money to close MOX  February 12, 2018, By James Folker, Staff Writer

The Department of Energy’s budget request for fiscal 2019 asks for money to close the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility and says the agency prefers the “dilute and dispose” method to dispose of 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium.

“The Budget Request includes $220 million to continue the orderly and safe closure of the Mixed Oxide (MOX) Fuel Fabrication Facility and $59 million to pursue the proven dilute and dispose technology,” Lindsey Geisler, press secretary for the National Nuclear Security Administration, said in a statement. “The administration has proposed termination of the MOX construction project because it is simply unaffordable. We have a proven method called dilute and dispose that is less expensive, has far lower risks, and can be i “The Budget Request includes $220 million to continue the orderly and safe closure of the Mixed Oxide (MOX) Fuel Fabrication Facility and $59 million to pursue the proven dilute and dispose technology,” Lindsey Geisler, press secretary for the National Nuclear Security Administration, said in a statement. “The administration has proposed termination of the MOX construction project because it is simply unaffordable. We have a proven method called dilute and dispose that is less expensive, has far lower risks, and can be  implemented decades sooner than the MOX approach.”

The budget request seeks $1.7 billion — $287 million more than last year — to provide support at Savannah River Site for the Liquid Tank Waste Management Program, including “a significant increase” in the production at the Defense Waste Processing Facility and startup of the Salt Waste Processing Facility, according to a DOE fact sheet released Monday.

The MOX project was born from a 2000 non-proliferation agreement between the U.S. and Russia, which called for the removal of 34 metric tons of plutonium from each nation’s arsenal. The MOX project at SRS would convert the plutonium from retired nuclear weapons into a blend with uranium so it can be used in commercial nuclear reactors

February 14, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, politics, reprocessing | Leave a comment

Trump’s budget bill gives tax credits to save Vogtle nuclear plant expansion, and promote Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

Platts 9th Feb 2018, The budget bill President Donald Trump signed Friday morning to avert a shutdown of the US government includes a broadening of production tax credits for nuclear projects critical for the completion of two reactors at Georgia Power’s Vogtle station and designed to spur development of the first commercial small modular reactors in the US.

The 2,300-MW Vogtle plant  expansion in Waynesboro, Georgia, has experienced delays and cost overruns that threatened its completion. The Georgia Public Service Commission gave the go-ahead for rate recovery, which Georgia Power had said was crucial for completing the nuclear generating units. But the production tax credits were also a key element of the project’s economic case, Georgia Power officials have said.

February 12, 2018 Posted by | politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

50 years on, nuclear fusion still hasn’t delivered clean energy

Excerpt from the February 17, 1968 issue of Science News, BY MARIA TEMMING , FEBRUARY 8, 2018  Magazine issue: Vol. 193, No. 3, February 17, 2018, p. 4

Power within 30 yearsControlled thermonuclear fusion is moving so well that full-scale development could begin within five years, says Dr. David J. Rose….It might take 20 to 30 years beyond that before fusion could move into the power grid, though, he predicts. — Science News, February 17, 1968


Governments and private-sector start-ups are still trying to wrangle thermonuclear fusion — the process that lights up stars and ignites hydrogen bombs — for clean energy, with limited progress (SN: 2/6/16, p. 18). One of the biggest ongoing projects is ITER in France, an international effort to build the first magnetic fusion reactor that pumps out more energy than it consumes. ITER plans to flip on the machine in 2025. Optimistic estimates put the first fusion power plants on the grid no sooner than 2040.

February 10, 2018 Posted by | France, technology | Leave a comment

Elon Musk’s Space Tesla Will Be Destroyed by Radiation

The Drive, BY KYLE CHEROMCHAFEBRUARY 7, 2018    Space: The final frontier. These are the voyages of the Tesla Roadster. Its billion-year mission: To circle the sun, to hopefully not crash into Mars, to boldly go where no car has gone before.

That is, unless the cosmic radiation eats it first.

Elon Musk’s old Roadster became the first car in history to be blasted into space on Tuesday, riding the successful test launch of the Falcon Heavy mega rocket to an orbital path that’s projected to send it out to Mars—or maybe even further. In a tweet, Musk reported that the “third burn” procedure to push the Roadster out of Earth’s orbit worked a little too well, with the trajectory now slated to reach the edge of the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. (Someone didn’t listen to C-3PO.)

But as Live Science reported, big space rocks aren’t really the most significant threat to the spacefaring sports car. No, that would be good ol’ radiation, which has the potential to mostly disintegrate the Tesla Roadster within a year or two, according to William Carroll, an Indiana University chemist and molecular expert. Without the protection afforded by the Earth’s atmosphere and magnetic field, the Roadster will be bombarded by radiation that will eventually tear apart anything not made of metal on the car.

“All of the organics will be subjected to degradation by the various kinds of radiation that you will run into there,” Carroll said, noting that the term “organics” in this case includes not only fabric and leather but all plastic components as well as the car’s carbon fiber body. “Those organics, in that environment, I wouldn’t give them a year.”…….


February 9, 2018 Posted by | technology, USA | Leave a comment

Artificial intelligence to enhance the thinking skills of nuclear submarine commanding officers,

China’s plan to use artificial intelligence to boost the thinking skills of nuclear submarine commanders
Equipping nuclear submarines with AI would give China an upper hand in undersea battles while pushing applications of the technology to a new level, 
SCMP, Stephen Chen,  05 February, 2018,  China is working to update the rugged old computer systems on nuclear submarines with artificial intelligence to enhance the potential thinking skills of commanding officers, a senior scientist involved with the programme told the South China Morning Post.

A submarine with AI-augmented brainpower not only would give China’s large navy an upper hand in battle under the world’s oceans but would push applications of AI technology to a new level, according to the researcher, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the project’s sensitivity.

“Though a submarine has enormous power of destruction, its brain is actually quite small,” the researcher said.

While a nuclear submarine depends on the skill, experience and efficiency of its crew to operate effectively, the demands of modern warfare could introduce variables that would cause even the smoothest-run operation to come unglued.

For instance, if the 100 to 300 people in the sub’s crew were forced to remain together in their canister in deep, dark water for months, the rising stress level could affect the commanding officers’ decision-making powers, even leading to bad judgment.

An AI decision-support system with “its own thoughts” would reduce the commanding officers’ workload and mental burden, according to the researcher……….

Up till now, the “thinking” function on a nuclear sub, including interpreting and answering signals picked up by sonar, a system for detecting objects under water by emitting sound pulses, has been handled almost exclusively by human naval personnel, not by machines.

Now, through AI technology, a convolutional neural network undergirds so-called machine learning. This structure underpins a decision support system that can acquire knowledge, improve skills and develop new strategy without human intervention.

By mimicking the workings of the human brain, the system can process a large amount of data. On a nuclear submarine, data could come from the Chinese navy’s rapidly increasing observation networks, the submarine’s own sensors or daily interactions with the crew……..

February 5, 2018 Posted by | China, technology, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Costs of France’s Flamville nuclear power project have exploded, and delays ballooned

Le Parisien 3rd Feb 2018, [Machine Translation] EPR Flamanville: four questions on an industrial
disaster. Seven years late and a quote that has tripled in ten years: the
site of the EPR Flamanville Friday received the visit of Sébastien
Lecornu, Secretary of State Nicolas Hulot.

Started in April 2007, the EPR was to cost € 3.3 billion and enter service in 2012. Except that the site
has accumulated the setbacks, the highlight of which was in April 2015,
after the discovery by the ASN of a anomaly in the steel of the lid and
bottom of the reactor vessel. In June 2017, EDF obtained authorization from
the ASN to operate the tank, but confidence in EPR technology has been
eroded. The bill exploded: around € 11 billion.

February 5, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, France, technology | Leave a comment

Mars colonists will need to be genetically modified humans

If Elon Musk is to colonise Mars, he’ll need to recruit a crew of genetically-modified humans
People who live on Mars may need to be genetically altered to be resistant to radiation. And while it might seem a long way off, research is already underway to work out how this can be done. Wired,     

Radiation resistance in humans and animals is something we know little about, although we know it exists. At the moment, resistance tests are used to try and predict how much radiation cancer patients can survive, but one day this could be an important decider of who gets to venture into space.

Our Earth is protected from the harmful radiation from the Sun by our magnetic field, but astronauts that leave the planet will be bombarded with the dangerous particles…..

 it’s not impossible that in the future, humans could be gene-edited to better withstand the harshness of space; not limited to the radiation. …….

The lenses in our eyes are one of the most sensitive parts of the body when it comes to exposure to radiation. Astronauts, who are exposed to dangerous levels of space radiation, and survivors of atomic bombs and accidents such as Chernobyl, have been shown to be much more susceptible to a condition called radiation cataracts.

This special type of cataract, which was seen for the first time in a rabbit in 1897, is easy to detect because it grows from the back of the lens. Exactly what causes it is unknown, but the current best explanation is that it forms because of DNA damage.

If radiation-resistant humans are sent to Mars, this would make an interesting pot of humans from which new traits could evolve separately from those on Earth.

February 5, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, health, technology | Leave a comment

Radiation still a stumbling block to space travel

NASA lecture: Radiation still a stumbling block to space travel Daily Press, Tamara Dietrich Contact Reporter, Senior Reporter, 4 Feb 18   The dream of exploring deep space has sparked the imagination for generations, but it always runs up against one cold, hard reality: radiation.

Simply put, exposure to space radiation during a long mission or while exploring a place like Mars increases the likelihood of an astronaut dying from cancer.

Yes, astronauts are willing to take some risks, but within reason, said John Norbury, lead research physicist in the Space Radiation Group at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton.

According to the American Cancer Society, the average American male stands a roughly 22 percent chance of dying from cancer in his lifetime; an American woman, just under 19 percent.

“It’s not a do-or-die situation,” Norbury said. “It’s, rather, how much does the risk of dying from cancer increase on a mission?”……….

Senior research physicist Sheila Thibeault said “Radiation in space is much, much, much more hazardous than on Earth, so this is a space problem. And it’s a very challenging problem to try to figure out how we’re going to get astronauts to Mars and back safely. And how to get astronauts to the moon and stay there for a while and get back.” ……..

Prolonged exposure doesn’t just increase one’s lifetime cancer risk, but can cause serious acute health effects.

Here on this planet, we’re largely protected from most solar and cosmic particles by the Earth’s atmosphere and magnetic field. That magnetic field also offers some protection to crews in low-Earth orbit aboard the International Space Station……..


February 5, 2018 Posted by | radiation, technology, USA | Leave a comment

The USA nuclear lobby is now trying to tie up longterm tax-payer funding for Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

Report Urges Long-Term Power Agreements for SMRs at Federal Sites , Nuclear Energy InstituteFeb. 1, 2018—A new study funded by the U.S. Department of Energy recommends that federal agencies (such as DOE and the Defense Department) be allowed to enter into 30-year power purchase agreements with utility operators of small modular reactors (SMRs).

Typically defined as reactors having a generating capacity smaller than 300 megawatts-electric, SMRs are a good fit for sites like DOE’s 17 national laboratories, the study says.

For example, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory is the largest consumer of electricity among the agency’s sites and is engaged in several critical, round-the-clock defense and research-related activities………

“Leveraging the federal government’s strong credit standing as a purchaser of the power and its continual need for baseload power is important in the development of SMRs. Federal agency purchasers can help to set the market and offer more certainty to other initial buyers,” the study says.

“By creating an authority that permits federal agencies to purchase power for up to 30 years, SMR developers will be able to use traditional financing to repay a project financed project or a long-term bond over an up to 30-year term, making the financing more affordable.”

Currently, only the Department of Defense has the authority to enter into power purchase agreements of 30 years in duration, in certain circumstances.

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is currently going through the Nuclear Regulatory Commission early site permit process for developing two or more SMRs at the Clinch River Site.

The study urges moving the pilot project at Clinch River forward to completion……..

Another example of collaboration between a small modular reactor developer and a national laboratory is NuScale Power, of which the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) is planning to build up to 12 at the Idaho National Laboratory. Under this project, DOE or other federal entities could enter into power purchase agreements with UAMPS or its associated utilities. ……

Another example of collaboration between a small modular reactor developer and a national laboratory is NuScale Power, of which the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) is planning to build up to 12 at the Idaho National Laboratory. Under this project, DOE or other federal entities could enter into power purchase agreements with UAMPS or its associated utilities. ……

The report, conducted by Kutak Rock and Scully Capital for DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy, builds on a January 2017 report which studies the options available to federal agencies looking to buy power from SMRs.


February 3, 2018 Posted by | politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

British plan to provide household electricity by plutonium – in Small Modular Nuclear Reactors


Times 28th Jan 2018, Britons could be taking showers and warming homes with hot water piped
directly from a nuclear reactor, under proposals to build small atomic power stations in cities. Urban nuclear reactors, similar in size to those
in nuclear submarines, could generate not only electricity but also hot water, suggests a report by Policy Exchange, a think tank.

The paper reflects government thinking, as the National Nuclear Laboratory hasalready drawn up plans for a first “small modular reactor” at Trawsfynydd in north Wales. The Department for Business, Energy andIndustrial Strategy has also supported the idea. Such reactors could befuelled by plutonium, a waste product of Britain’s existing nuclearindustry. Stockpiles exceed 100 tons.

January 29, 2018 Posted by | - plutonium, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, UK | Leave a comment

Space travel damages astronauts’eyes

How does space travel affect the eye? Astronauts’ retinal nerves found damaged after months in orbit

The finding comes as Nasa continues to prepare for missions to Mars and beyond. By Shubham Sharma, As Nasa continues to prepare for manned deep-space missions to Mars and beyond, a new study has highlighted a major concern for the agency – the affect of long-term space travel on astronauts’ retinal nerves, which ultimately degrades their ability to see.Nearly 50% of astronauts report cases of vision impairment after spending a prolonged time in space, sometimes months or maybe years after returning to Earth. The cases vary from person to person but the new study, published in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology and reported by Live Science, factors something that could be the key trigger for these problems.

After studying pre- and post-flight optical scans of 15 astronauts who had spent around six months in space, researchers noted a significant change in their optic nerves, the delicate transmitter that takes visual information from the retina to the vision centres of the brain, helping a person register what they see.

As per the report, the analysis of Bruch membrane openings, the gaps at the back of the eyeball through which these nerves travel, revealed that their delicate tissues were significantly swollen and warped.

The critical damage was noted weeks after the astronauts’ return to Earth and has been touted as the first direct observational evidence that highlights the critical effect of long-term space travel on optic nerves. Some of the study subjects already had vision-related problems but the patterns in the deformity could not be ignored.

Though the actual cause of this condition remains unknown, the researchers believe it could be due to the difference between normal and cosmic pressures. According to them, when astronauts reach space, the pressure increases and the eyes take their time to adjust to that change. However, when they come back to Earth, the pressure goes down suddenly, which the eyes fail to deal with.

As of now, it cannot be said for certain if this is the exact reason, but whatever it may be, Nasa will have to study this problem carefully before going ahead with its deep-space missions. The success of any manned program, whether to the Moon, Mars or any other distant planet, will depend on astronauts and how they react to changes in their surroundings several thousand kilometres away from Earth.

January 24, 2018 Posted by | health, radiation, technology, USA | Leave a comment

NASA getting excited about plutonium powered space missions

NASA Pushes for Nuclear-Powered Space Missions, Scientific American, 24 Jan 18,
The space agency’s Kilopower project could end a half-century hiatus for U.S. reactors in space,
 By Harrison on January 23, 2018  “…….

Unlike previous technologies, the Kilopower reactor is simple, inexpensive and relies on fuels and technologies that are already well understood, NASA officials said. It uses active nuclear fission, like a conventional nuclear reactor, which will enable it to harvest far more energy from its uranium alloy core than an RTG could…………

In 2012, Los Alamos National Laboratory and NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Ohio conducted a successful proof-of-concept test of the reactor, and NASA gave them the go-ahead to continue development and testing at the Nevada National Security Site. Right now, the team is conducting component testing to determine the reactivity-worth of each of the reactor’s parts, namely how they react to the neutron radiation generated by the fission reaction. This phase of testing should be completed this week, according to officials at the conference. Then the project will progress to cold-critical testing, which will test the reactor’s components, this time with the enriched uranium fuel core inside, officials said at the conference. Full power testing is scheduled to begin in mid-March.

NASA’s interest in sending astronauts to Mars has provided the primary impetus behind the Kilopower project: The power demands for a human mission to Mars will be far greater than the requirements for previous robotic missions…..

“A successful Kilopower test will be a great leap forward for space nuclear power,” Jurczyk said…….

January 24, 2018 Posted by | technology, USA | Leave a comment

NASA’s great plan for tax-payer funded nuclear reactors on Mars

U.S. tests nuclear power system to sustain astronauts on Mars – #SCIENCE NEWS, JANUARY 19, 2018, Will Dunham, WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Initial tests in Nevada on a compact nuclear power system designed to sustain a long-duration NASA human mission on the inhospitable surface of Mars have been successful and a full-power run is scheduled for March, officials said on Thursday.

Officials from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and U.S. Department of Energy, at a news conference in Las Vegas, detailed the development of the nuclear fission system under NASA’s Kilopower project.

Months-long testing of the system began in November at the energy department’s Nevada National Security Site, with an eye toward providing energy for future human and robotic missions in space and on the surface of Mars, the moon or other solar system destinations………..

“Mars is a very difficult environment for power systems, with less sunlight than Earth or the moon, very cold nighttime temperatures, very interesting dust storms that can last weeks and months that engulf the entire planet,” said Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator of NASA‘s Space Technology Mission Directorate…….

President Donald Trump in December signed a directive intended to pave the way for a return to the moon, with an eye toward an eventual mission to Mars.

 The new system could potentially supply the power human crews on the Martian surface would need to energize habitats and run processing equipment to transform resources such as ice on the planet into oxygen, water and fuel, NASA said………Reporting by Will Dunham; Editing by Tom Brown

January 19, 2018 Posted by | technology, USA | Leave a comment

China unlikely to go ahead with AREVA’s nuclear reprocessing plan, despite Macron’s support

Reuters 11th Jan 2018, So close yet so far: China deal elusive for France’s Areva. A deal long
sought by French company Areva to build a $12-billion nuclear waste
reprocessing plant in China looks increasingly unlikely to go ahead despite
a visit to Beijing by President Emmanuel Macron meant to drum up business.

During Macron’s state visit this week, Areva and China National Nuclear
Corp (CNNC) signed a new “protocol agreement” to build the plant but,
not for the first time, no definitive contract was signed.

Since talks began more than a decade ago – when uranium prices UXXc1 were near record
highs – a series of non-committal French-Chinese memorandums of
understanding have been signed for building a reprocessing plant in China
modeled on state-owned Areva’s plant in La Hague, northern France.

The reprocessing of nuclear fuel waste involves separating plutonium from the
spent uranium and reusing it in “Mixed Oxide” (MOX) fuel at nuclear
power stations.

But the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster and competition
from renewable energy are weighing on the nuclear sector, and uranium
prices are down 80 percent from a decade ago, making the expensive and
dangerous recycling process less attractive. Chinese nuclear scientist Li
Ning, dean of Xiamen University’s College of Energy and a member of State
Nuclear Power Technology Corporation’s (SNPTC) expert committee, sees
“a fairly low probability” that China will sign a formal contract for
the project.

January 13, 2018 Posted by | China, France, marketing, politics international, reprocessing | Leave a comment