Nuclear Energy

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Almost precisely 11 months ago, I started this Lemmy community as a way for people on nuclear reddit to find a new home. That didn't exactly turnout the way I thought. But despite that, today we're the biggest nuclear energy Lemmy community around!

I hope with this milestone we can build a more vibrant community with more people starting discussions and commenting more. Please share far and wide.

I'll keep posting daily updates. If you like to support what I do, please consider a donation.

If you'd like to support the community host, buy him a coffee!

On we go! ⚛️

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submitted 1 year ago* (last edited 11 months ago) by [email protected] to c/[email protected]
 
 

Might be cool to setup a post on other nuclear communities, websites and accounts. Please share your links! I'll update this post ☺️

Reddit:

Discord:

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Websites:

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Source: https://www.world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/UK-justification-decision-sought-for-Rolls-Royce-S

The Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) has applied to the UK government for a justification decision for Rolls-Royce SMR's small modular reactor, a decision required for the operation of a new nuclear technology in the country. It marks the first ever application for justification of a UK reactor design.

UK regulations require that any new practice that produces ionising radiation is justified by an evaluation of the potential benefits and the potential detriments.

"Our application makes the case that the benefits of clean, firm, flexible power from the reactor would far outweigh any potential risks, which are in any event rigorously controlled by robust safety features, including passive safety systems, built into the design, in line with the UK's regulatory requirements," the NIA said. "The application also demonstrates that the reactor design would support nuclear energy's contribution to a stable and well-balanced electricity grid, which is essential to reduce consumer bills and maintain economic competitiveness."

The government has confirmed that the application has been accepted for consideration, and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) will support the Secretary of State in their role as the justifying authority responsible for the justification decision. DEFRA will now conduct a process of internal review and consultation with a number of statutory consultees.

The NIA noted that a justification decision is one of the required steps for the operation of a new nuclear technology in the UK, but it is not a permit or licence that allows a specific project to go ahead. "Instead, it is a generic decision based on a high-level evaluation of the potential benefits and detriments of the proposed new nuclear practice as a pre-cursor to future regulatory processes," it added.

The NIA, as the representative body of the UK civil nuclear industry, often makes justification applications, because justification is a generic decision that can be relied upon by anyone and are not personal to individual reactor vendors or project developers. The NIA has previously applied for justifications for Hitachi's Advanced Boiling Water Reactor, Westinghouse's AP1000 and Framatome's EPR. In April this year, it applied for a justification decision for Newcleo's Italian-designed lead-cooled fast reactor, the LFR-AS-200.

"Rolls-Royce SMR's design, like other SMRs, offers huge possibilities for the UK to revive our industrial capabilities and deliver low-carbon energy for net-zero and energy security," said NIA Chief Executive Tom Greatrex. "We are delighted to support this step to get the design approved in its home country.

"It is essential that our nuclear renaissance is made in Britain, so the new government should ensure that we deploy enough SMR designs to justify investment in the UK supply chain to deliver them."

Helena Perry, Rolls-Royce SMR’s Safety and Regulatory Affairs Director, said: "As the UK's most advanced SMR design, today's submission for regulatory justification is another important step to ensure that we can continue to move at pace towards deployment in the UK.

"Each Rolls-Royce SMR 'factory-built' nuclear power plant will provide enough clean, affordable, electricity to power a million homes for 60+ years - delivering energy security, enabling net-zero and making a transformational contribution to the UK economy. Rolls-Royce SMR remains on track to complete Step 2 of the Generic Design Assessment by the nuclear industry's independent regulators and move immediately into the third and final step this summer."

The Rolls-Royce SMR is a 470 MWe design based on a small pressurised water reactor. It will provide consistent baseload generation for at least 60 years. 90% of the SMR - about 16 metres by 4 metres - will be built in factory conditions, limiting on-site activity primarily to assembly of pre-fabricated, pre-tested, modules which significantly reduces project risk and has the potential to drastically shorten build schedules.

It is one of six SMR designs selected in October by Great British Nuclear on a shortlist for the UK's SMR selection competition and one of the five vendors to submit a bid by the 8 July deadline. The aim is for a final investment decision in two or three of the designs to be taken in 2029.

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The peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology today hold more promise to heal the world since Austrian Swedish physicist Lise Meitner and colleagues discovered nuclear fission in 1938, said Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, in a new essay titled “Nuclear Must Be Part of The Solution” published by Foreign Affairs.

Atoms for Peace: Grossi described how the world has strayed from President Eisenhower’s vision of Atoms for Peace—as North Korea develops a nuclear weapons program, Iran enriches uranium to military grade, arms control and disarmament treaties collapse, and threats grow of nuclear weapons being used in conflicts in Europe and the Middle East.

At the same time, Grossi noted that nuclear energy is providing large amounts of low-carbon electricity in Europe and the United States, China is building numerous nuclear power plants, India is considering nuclear power expansion, nuclear medicine is raising hopes of cancer cures in developing nations, and nuclear technologies are playing increasing roles in agriculture.

Nonproliferation: Grossi described the 1970 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) as a “grand bargain” in which states without nuclear weapons promised not to develop or acquire them and to submit to IAEA inspections to verify their adherence. Nuclear weapons states also promised in good faith to eliminate their arsenals, while other nations pledged not to develop such weapons.

Unfortunately, he continued, the NPT has since come under “undeniable stress,” with Israel, India, and Pakistan not joining the treaty, North Korea and Iran pursuing illegal or questionable nuclear programs, and existing stockpiles of nuclear weapons growing.

The next NPT review conference will occur in 2026.

Peaceful purposes: Grossi stressed the importance of the NPT not only for its nonproliferation benefits, but also for its facilitation of “the exchange of equipment, training, and scientific information for the peaceful use of nuclear energy.” He said, “The IAEA has a mandate to expand access to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. . . . The uses of nuclear technology and science are so varied that they directly support more than half the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (and indirectly support all of them).”

After detailing the energy, medical, and climate benefits of nuclear technology, Grossi pointed out, “Around the world, countries are recommitting to nuclear energy or embarking on developing it.” He cited recent pro-nuclear actions in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Romania, the United Kingdom, India, China, South Korea, Japan, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Turkey, Russia, Canada, and the United States.

Net zero and fusion: Grossi then turned to the promise of advanced nuclear technologies for reaching the goal of net-zero carbon emissions. He noted that these technologies “can recycle spent nuclear fuel, leaving less waste, and . . . small modular reactors . . . could make up about ten percent of the world’s nuclear power capacity [by 2050], distributing electricity in developing countries and providing more affordable options for smaller grids, such as those operated by industries in remote locations.”

Regarding nuclear fusion, Grossi said, “We must continue to back fusion so it will be able in the not-too-distant future to produce nearly unlimited quantities of power with almost no harmful waste at all. The establishment of a worldwide fusion platform by the IAEA—working with the G-7 and other bodies, including the 35-nation fusion experiment known as ITER—is moving us closer to fusion electricity than ever before.”

Embrace nuclear: Grossi concluded his essay by noting, “We face a convergence of challenges: climate change, energy, water and food insecurity, and the need to provide health care for all. Floods, fires, and droughts portend a disastrous future. But we have the means to avoid the worst and to adapt to new realities—with nuclear technology as a vital part of the solution. Global leaders must embrace and scale up this tool in ways commensurate with the challenges we face.”

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Source: https://www.world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Steady-Energy,-Kuopion-Energy-enhance-cooperation

Finnish small modular reactor developer Steady Energy has signed a one-year pre-planning agreement with Kuopion Energia aimed at constructing a small nuclear power plant to start producing district heat in the city of Kuopio in the early 2030s.

As part of the agreement, Kuopion Energia will start an environmental impact assessment for potential plant locations. Suitable locations for the plant will be refined during the environmental impact assessment process, Steady Energy noted, adding that, generally, suitable places in cities include existing industrial sites.

"The investment decision will be made by Kuopion Energia, which will also seek necessary zoning changes in due course," Steady Energy said. "Zoning decisions are the responsibility of the City of Kuopio. The estimated construction time is 3.5 years."

Steady Energy's LDR-50 district heating SMR - with a thermal output of 50 MW - has been under development at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland since 2020. Designed to operate at around 150°C and below 10 bar (145 psi), the company says its "operating conditions are less demanding compared with those of traditional reactors, simplifying the technical solutions needed to meet the high safety standards of the nuclear industry". It noted that its reactors are affordable enough for municipal utilities to invest in independently.

"LDR-50 is a small and simple nuclear reactor which would help Kuopio to achieve its climate goals and provide affordable energy for heating the city," Steady Energy said. "The newly signed agreement initiates practical work towards an investment decision for the plant."

Last month, Steady Energy said it is set to start construction of its first LDR-50 district heating reactor pilot plant in Finland next year. Currently, the proposed locations for the pilot plant include: Salmisaari caves in central Helsinki; Huuhanmäki caves in Kuopio, the regional capital of North Savo in eastern Finland; and the power plant sites at Kymijärvi and Teivaanmäki in Lahti, a regional capital in southern Finland.

In December 2023, the company signed a letter of intent with municipal energy company Kuopion Energia in Eastern Finland that includes an option for the construction of up to five district heating reactors starting in 2030. That agreement followed a letter of intent signed in October between Steady Energy and Helsinki's energy company Helen for the construction of up to 10 SMRs for district heating.

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Source: https://www.world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Climate-finance-top-priority,-says-COP29-President

Mukhtar Babayev, president-designate of the UN's COP29 summit taking place in Azerbaijan in November, says the top negotiating priority is agreeing a "fair and ambitious" goal on climate finance "adequate to the urgency and scale of the problem, taking into account the needs and priorities" of developing countries.

In a letter to parties and constituencies Babayev has set out the principles to focus on "to present the COP29 Presidency’s vision to enhance ambition and enable action, outline the key presidency milestones, lay out the pathways that we must follow to turn our vision into a reality, and highlight collaborative networks for complementary action".

He says: "Growing geopolitical tensions and uncertainty in the international environment must not distract us from the imperative to collaborate and address climate change as the greatest transnational challenge of the century ... our actions should be guided by the latest science and informed by the outcomes of the Global Stocktake, agreed by Parties at COP28, with its roadmap for keeping 1.5°C within reach, while leaving no one behind."

He adds: "All countries must strive for the highest possible ambition, in line with the Paris Agreement and informed by the Global Stocktake. We also know that support for developing countries will allow for higher ambition in their actions. We now need to increase the overall flow of climate finance substantially and help developing countries that need support to realise their full potential."

The Global Stocktake agreed at COP28 in Dubai called for a transitioning away from fossil fuels and an acceleration of zero- and low-emission technologies, including nuclear. This was the first time that nuclear has been specifically included in a COP agreement as one of the solutions to climate change.

The COP29 presidency's aim is to agree a "fair and ambitious New Collective Quantified Goal on climate finance adequate to the urgency and scale of the problem, taking into account the needs and priorities of developing country parties".

The New Collective Quantified Goal (NCQG) is a global finance goal which was a key element of the 2015 Paris Agreement and aims to provide more than the 2009-set goal of USD100 billion per year as part of efforts to hold the increase in the global average temperature rises to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, by supporting developing countries' ability to adapt to climate change and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions without threatening food production and development.

According to the World Economic Forum, "the NCQG must be ambitious yet realistic, balancing the financial capacities of developed countries with the urgent needs of developing nations. The donor base is also unclear, with the status of some countries, including China and Saudi Arabia, still being hashed out. To get the NCQG off the ground, these questions must be answered before and during" COP29. Other issues include "the need for robust monitoring and accountability mechanisms" to avoid the new goal facing "the same challenges as its predecessor", such as the amount of the money which flows back to donor countries.

In his letter setting out the COP29 priorities, Babayev writes: "Strengthening multilateral financial institutions and climate funds will also be an important contribution to creating the international enabling environment for success, and we are working towards fully mobilising the private sector and philanthropy for climate action."

Adaptation and mitigation financing "require a substantial increase", he says, with negotiations continuing ahead of the summit - "climate finance has been one of the most challenging topics in the negotiations and climate diplomacy more broadly, and the politically complex issues will not be solved by negotiators alone ... we have heard clearly from the Parties that there are disagreements on key elements that will require political direction and we must focus high-level discussions on these points ... The COP29 Presidency is now intensifying political engagement ... the NCQG will be amongst key issues to be addressed at the Heads of Delegation retreat in Azerbaijan in July."

His letter concludes: "We are optimistic that together we can make real progress. When the world comes to COP29 in Azerbaijan, we want everyone to focus on our moral duty and collective interest to confront the climate crisis."

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Russia’s state-owned nuclear energy corporation Rosatom is “ahead” in a bid to build Turkey’s second nuclear power station, press reports said

Rosatom already has experience in Turkey’s nuclear sector through the construction of four Russia-supplied units at the nation’s first commercial nuclear power station at Akkuyu on the Mediterranean coast in southern Turkey. That makes it well placed to also build the Sinop station, energy minister Alparslan Bayraktar said in an interview.

“This is the main reason why they’re naturally keen and in this sense I and many others think they’re ahead,” he said. Rosatom is “a company that’s invested in Turkey and has gained experience.”

South Korea is the other country that is known to have held talks on the planned four-reactor Sinop facility on the Black Sea coast in northern Turkey.

The Sinop station could involve a joint venture between the public and private sectors and licensing is expected to take two or three years, Bayraktar said.

Turkey currently aims to add over 20 GW of nuclear capacity to its energy mix by 2050, but it could reach that target in the 2040s if the Sinop site and another planned nuclear plant in the Thrace region of western Turkey are expanded to their maximum capacity of eight reactors each, Bayraktar said.

Eight units at Sinop and Thrace, plus four under construction at Akkuyu is an ambitious target that would give 22.28 GW of net capacity, if all 20 units were of the same type as those under construction at Akkuyu.

Negotiations are continuing with China on the Thrace project and with the US on small modular reactors, according to Bayraktar. US nuclear technology giant Westinghouse Electric Co. is interested in both small and conventional nuclear projects in Turkey, he said, with executives from the company scheduled to visit Turkey later this month.

The $20bn (€18.1bn) Akkuyu nuclear power station will have four Generation III+ VVER-1200 units, with the first expected to come online in 2025 and a further unit starting every year afterwards.

Construction of Akkuyu-1 began in April 2018 and was initially planned for completion in 2023. Rosatom said in April that the “full-scale” commissioning phase has begun for Unit 1.

Reports have said that Akkuyu will meet 10% of Turkey’s electricity demand when fully operational in 2028.

Turkey wants to generate slightly over 11% of electricity from nuclear energy by 2035, and 29% by 2053 to reach its climate goals, Turkish officials have said.

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Oklo Inc. has announced that it has completed the first end-to-end demonstration of its advanced fuel recycling process as part of an ongoing $5 million project in collaboration with Argonne and Idaho National Laboratories. Oklo’s goal: scaling up its fuel recycling capabilities to deploy a commercial-scale recycling facility that would increase advanced reactor fuel supplies and enhance fuel cost effectiveness for its planned sodium fast reactors.

ARPA-E support: Oklo was awarded cost-share funding from the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) under the Optimizing Nuclear Waste and Advanced Reactor Disposal Systems (ONWARDS) program in March 2022 for Enabling the Near-Term Commercialization of an Electrorefining Facility to Close the Metal Fuel Cycle. Work began in July 2022 and is scheduled to continue until October 2025.

“We know that recycling is an important path to reduce high-level waste and advance nuclear energy with safe and sustainable domestic fuel stocks,” said ARPA-E director Evelyn N. Wang. “Through ARPA-E’s ONWARDS program, Oklo is working to achieve these goals. This milestone marks an important step forward in the team’s progress as they work towards economically viable nuclear fuel recycling.”

The technology: According to ARPA-E, Oklo’s planned commercial facility would “produce fuel for Oklo’s metal-fueled fast reactors, closing the advanced reactor fuel cycle and changing the economic paradigm for advanced fission with a commercial-scale fuel recycling facility.”

Oklo’s ARPA-E project was designed to optimize four key functions of fuel production in an electrorefining facility: (1) electrorefining to recover uranium and U/transuranic alloys, (2) salt/metal product separation, (3) lanthanide waste drawdown, and (4) active metal waste removal by fractional crystallization. Electrorefining is a key process in a suite of nuclear fuel cycle research and development activities that goes by different names, including pyroprocessing and recycling.

The benefits: Oklo says its recycling technology can extract over 90 percent of the remaining potential energy from used fuel while incorporating proliferation-resistant features, including maintaining the consolidation of transuranic materials.

The company expects commercial fuel recycling to help the company save up to 80 percent on fuel costs for Oklo’s sodium fast reactors and reduce the volume of high-level waste requiring permanent disposal.

“We recognize the inherent opportunity to enhance our mission through fuel recycling, converting used fuel into clean energy,” said Jacob DeWitte, cofounder and chief executive officer of Oklo. “Oklo’s use of fast fission technology positions us well to realize these fuel recycling benefits. The success of this project brings us closer to bringing a commercial-scale domestic fuel recycling facility on line, crucial for strengthening our business model and advancing economic viability.”

Power moves: Oklo received a site use permit from the Department of Energy to demonstrate its reactor technology at INL and was awarded high-assay low-enriched uranium fuel material, also from INL. According to Oklo, the company “is actively engaged with the [Nuclear Regulatory Commission] as it prepares to submit an application within 12 months.” Oklo previously submitted an application in March 2020 that was denied without prejudice in January 2022.

Two senators oppose reprocessing: U.S. senators Jeff Merkley (D., Ore.) and Edward J. Markey (D., Mass.) of the Congressional Nuclear Weapons and Arms Control Working Group sent a letter to energy secretary Jennifer Granholm and NRC chair Christopher Hanson on July 17 expressing "deep alarm about public reports that the Department of Energy is considering funding proposals to support building commercial nuclear fuel reprocessing plants in the United States.”

“The U.S. government must take concrete steps to prevent the construction of reprocessing plants that have been proposed or any similar facility,” the senators wrote, claiming that “the reprocessing of plutonium that would be undertaken at these plants would create security and proliferation risks that far outweigh any ostensible energy benefits. . . . Furthermore, such projects would be vulnerable to attacks by nefarious actors who seek to exploit the infrastructure and nuclear fuel at these plants to threaten U.S. nationals and interests.”

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Construction has begun of Unit 2 at the Xudabu nuclear power station, bringing the number of plants under construction in China to 26.

China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) and state media said the first batch of concrete had been poured for the nuclear island of Unit 2 at Xudabu, in Liaoning Province, bordering North Korea in northeastern China, marking the official start of construction of the unit.

Xudabu-2 will be a 1,250 MW CAP1000 reactor, the Chinese version of the Westinghouse AP1000 pressurised water reactor unit. Construction of an identical unit, Xudabu-1, began in November 2023.

There are already two Russia-supplied VVER-1200 PWR units under construction at Xudabu, also written in English as Xudabao and Xudapu.* Those units are Xudabu-3 and -4.

The Xudabu project was originally expected to comprise of six CAP1000 plants, with Units 1 and 2 in the first phase. Site preparation began in November 2010, but plans changed with the construction of two VVER-1200 reactors for Units 3 and 4.

Two further CAP1000 reactors are planned for Units 5 and 6.

The construction of Xudabu-1 and -2 was approved by China’s State Council in July 2023.

The Xudabao nuclear station is owned by Liaoning Nuclear Power Company, in which CNNC holds a 70% stake with Datang International Power Generation Co holding 20% and State Development and Investment Corporation owning 10%. The general contractor is China Nuclear Power Engineering Company, a subsidiary of CNNC.

According to recent US Energy Information Administration analysis, China has added more than 34 GW of nuclear power capacity in the past 10 years, nearly tripling its nuclear capacity. Its 26 plants under construction are more than any other country.

China now has 56 commercial reactors in operation, the same number as France and second only to the US, which has 94. However, the nuclear share in the three countries differs widely. The nuclear share of total electricity production in the US is about 18%, while in China it is about 5% and in France about 62% – the highest in the world.

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Source: https://www.world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Transfer-of-exploration-licence-for-Niger-uranium

USA-based African Discovery Group (AFDG) has signed a letter of intent to acquire the uranium exploration licence for the Ouricha-3 deposit in Niger from Central Global Access International Niger (CGAIN). Meanwhile, GoviEX plans to seek damages for the withdrawal of its mining rights to the Madaouela deposit.

As part of the transaction, AFDG is expected to issue shares to CGAIN - an international company operating in several sectors and industries - and the existing operating team. The transaction is expected to result in the existing AFDG shareholders retaining majority ownership of the company. The government of the Republic of Niger is expected "to retain a working interest in the operations of the Niger licence after cost recovery".

The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2024, subject to shareholder approval, customary due diligence and documentation.

Delaware-based AFDG, which is dedicated to the development of the African continent, said it expects to change its name to African Uranium in conjunction with the closing. The company intends to hire a Chief Executive Officer with extensive geological experience in uranium exploration in West Africa, with the existing exploration team expected to retain their current roles.

AFDG said the transaction would create a uranium exploration company "with a focus on creating value around Africa's under explored basins of uranium. After close of the transaction, AFDG will dedicate itself to uranium exploration going forward on the African continent. By working in concert with the government of Niger, African Uranium will create local skills to develop the highly promising nuclear industry on the continent".

"We are highly enthusiastic to move forward in such a paradigm-changing venture for our company and our shareholders," said AFDG Chairman Alan Kessler.

Ouricha-3 is located within the northern Agadez region of Niger. It is 35 km northwest of Global Atomic's Dasa project, Africa's highest grade uranium deposit, and 20 km south of Orano's Imouraren uranium mine, one of world's largest uranium reserves. The deposit straddles the Arlit fault, a key structure for uranium mineralisation at Imouraren and the mines in Arlit.

Historic exploration on and around Ouricha-3 began was started in 1977 by France's Cogema. More than two-thirds of the Ouricha-3 permit is located in the Afouday perimeter, which was the subject of exploration by Areva in 2006.

GoviEx contests Madaouela decision

In July last year, a coup d'état occurred in Niger, during which the country's presidential guard removed and detained president Mohamed Bazoum. Subsequently, General Abdourahamane Tchiani, the Commander of the Presidential Guard, proclaimed himself the leader of the country.

Since then, Nigerien authorities have withdrawn the operating permit for Orano's Imouraren uranium mine, which was issued to its subsidiary Imouraren SA in 2009. Also, Canada's GoviEx Uranium has recently had its mining rights to the Madaouela deposit withdrawn.

In a 17 July letter to stakeholders, GoviEx Uranium Executive Chairman Govind Friedland said the withdrawal of its mining rights for Madaouela is "especially perplexing". Any future developers would effectively need to "start from scratch", he said.

"The necessity to conduct a new drilling campaign, environmental assessments, social studies, metallurgical test work, etc - tasks into which we have already invested millions - will inevitably lead to significant project delays," Friedland said. "Such delays are contrary to the government's stated objectives for rapid development and economic progress in the region."

According to GoviEx, the decision to withdraw its mining rights did not follow the withdrawal procedure prescribed under the applicable mining code. "We are fully prepared to pursue all necessary legal avenues to defend our rights and protect our investments and have formally written to the Ministry of Mines to contest the decision and to initially seek an amicable solution as per Niger's Mining Convention," Friedland said. "We are starting the process to secure independent assessments of damages related to the withdrawal of our mining rights."

The company said it now intends to concentrate on the development of its Muntanga uranium project in Zambia, which it has been working to develop since 2016. The project, it said, has "massive potential, poised to become a cornerstone of our company".

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Dominion Energy Virginia has issued a request for proposals from leading nuclear companies to study the feasibility of putting a small modular reactor at its North Anna nuclear power plant.

While the utility says it is not a commitment to build an SMR at the site, the RFP is “an important first step in evaluating the technology and the North Anna site to support Dominion Energy customers’ future energy needs consistent with the company’s most recent Integrated Resource Plan.”

The company also announced last week that it intends to seek rider recovery of SMR development costs in a filing with the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) this fall under state legislation passed earlier this year. The legislation contains cost caps limiting current SMR development cost recovery to no more than $1.40 per month for a typical residential customer.

A closer look: Senate Bill 454, which went into effect July 1, allows Dominion to recover up to 80 percent of its costs to develop an SMR facility through a special rate adjustment clause, also known as a “rider.” The legislation is active through 2029.

The rider fees are subject to approval by the Virginia SCC. Dominion officials have said they expect the initial request for cost recovery to be below the $1.40 per month limit.

Quotable: “For over 50 years nuclear power has been the most reliable workhorse of Virginia’s electric fleet, generating 40 percent of our power and with zero carbon emissions,” said Robert M. Blue, chief executive of Dominion Energy. “As Virginia’s need for reliable and clean power grows, SMRs could play a pivotal role in an ‘all-of-the-above’ approach to our energy future. Along with offshore wind, solar, and battery storage, SMRs have the potential to be an important part of Virginia’s growing clean energy mix.”

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin said, “The Commonwealth's potential to unleash and foster a rich energy economy is limitless. To meet the power demands of the future, it is imperative we continue to explore emerging technologies that will provide Virginians access to the reliable, affordable, and clean energy they deserve. . . . Small nuclear reactors will play a critical role in harnessing this potential and positioning Virginia to be a leading nuclear innovation hub.”

Diverse mix: Dominion serves about 2.7 million customers in Virginia. It has been erecting solar farms and is installing a massive windfarm off the coast of Virginia Beach.

A 2020 state law set a target for 100 percent of Virginia’s electricity to come from carbon-free sources by 2050. Youngkin said it’s important to embrace new technologies for power generation.

“We can’t build enough wind,” Youngkin said. “We can’t build enough solar in order to power the Virginia of the future. We need all of the above.”

Across the industry: While no SMRs are yet operating in the United States, numerous proposals are in the works. TerraPower, backed by billionaire Bill Gates, broke ground in June on a planned advanced reactor site in Wyoming, though the unit still needs license approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. TerraPower’s proposed Natrium plant would produce 345 MW using a sodium-cooled reactor paired with molten salt–based energy storage.

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US-based BWX Technologies has signed a cooperation agreement with the state of Wyoming as it evaluates locations for a potential new Triso nuclear fuel production facility to support anticipated future demand for advanced reactor deployment.

The Virginia company said its Advanced Technologies subsidiary had signed the agreement to evaluate the requirements for siting a fuel fabrication facility in the state.

BWXT has already signed an agreement with the Wyoming Energy Authority to assess the viability of deploying small-scale nuclear reactors in the state.

Bill Gates’s reactor company TerraPower recently broke ground on its first Natrium advanced nuclear plant in Wyoming.

BWXT said it will evaluate such matters as potential factory locations, facility design, estimated capital expenditures and operating costs, staffing, supply chain and licensing.

The company said it is evaluating the manufacture of Triso fuel in support of the emerging advanced reactor market.

Triso – or “tristructural-isotropic” – fuel particles contain a spherical kernel of enriched uranium oxycarbide surrounded by layers of carbon and silicon carbide, which contains fission products.

Establishing A Baseline For Triso Fuel Facilities

“This new effort will help establish the baseline for facilities necessary to meet anticipated demand for this specialised nuclear fuel and includes establishing the scale necessary for economic viability,” a statement said.

The US Department of Energy describes Triso fuel as “the most robust nuclear fuel on Earth” because of its ability to withstand high temperatures, resist corrosion and act as its own containment system.

BWXT said Triso is an ideal fuel source for advanced reactor designs requiring different fuel configurations and enrichments than are common to conventional large reactors connected to the grid today.

Earlier this year, BWXT announced plans for an expansion of its Cambridge manufacturing plant aimed at supporting growing demand for small modular reactors, traditional large-scale nuclear reactors and advanced reactor technologies both domestically and globally.

The Cambridge plant is one of the largest nuclear equipment manufacturing facilities in North America.

In 2022 BWXT announced the “landmark” production of Triso nuclear fuel that will power the Project Pele microreactor. Project Pele, backed by the Department of Defense, aims to design a microreactor capable of being transported in standard-sized shipping containers.

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The Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E) announced $40 million in funding to develop cutting-edge technologies to enable the transmutation of used nuclear fuel into less-radioactive substances. According to ARPA-E, the new initiative addresses one of the agency’s core goals as outlined by Congress: to provide transformative solutions to improve the management, cleanup, and disposal of radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel.

“Safe, clean nuclear power will play a critical role in helping the United States and the world reduce and eliminate energy-related emissions,” said ARPA-E director Evelyn N. Wang. “Transmutation could shorten the timeline for UNF disposal by thousands of years, which represents a transformational solution for generations to come.”

NEWTON: The funding opportunity announcement is part of ARPA-E’s Nuclear Energy Waste Transmutation Optimized Now (NEWTON) program, which seeks to develop technologies that enable transmutation, the process of an isotope being converted to a different isotope or element through a nuclear reaction. NEWTON aims to enable the economic viability of transmutation at a scale that will significantly reduce the mass, volume, activity, and effective half-life of the existing stockpile of commercial UNF.

There are three key objectives of the program:

To develop technologies related to the generation and acceleration of particle beams that can initiate transmutation reactions.

To identify solutions related to modeling, designing, and fabricating target materials for transmutation of UNF; incorporating transmutable materials into a target; and processing transmuted material for waste or isolation.

To integrate the technologies developed in the first two categories into a techno-economic analysis and life-cycle assessment of a transmutation facility and maintain a materials and components database for transmutation facilities.

NEWTON continues ARPA-E’s work to develop ways to address spent fuel through its CURIE and ONWARDS programs, which focus on the recycling of UNF into fuel for advanced reactors.

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Source: https://www.world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/El-Dabaa-project-reports-progress-on-construction

Egypt's first nuclear power plant is pushing ahead - with the core catcher for unit 3 now on site, a 2000-tonne capacity crane installed and Rosatom reporting that 75% of the blanks to be used for unit 1's reactor equipment now produced.

El Dabaa will be Egypt's first nuclear power plant, and the first in Africa since South Africa's Koeberg was built nearly 40 years ago. The Rosatom-led project is about 320 kilometres north-west of Cairo and will comprise four VVER-1200 units, like those already in operation at the Leningrad and Novovoronezh nuclear power plants in Russia, and the Ostrovets plant in Belarus.

The four units are being built almost concurrently, with first concrete at unit 1 in July 2022, followed in turn by the others, concluding with first concrete at unit 4 in January this year.

The first tier of unit 1's inner containment was completed in May, and Rosatom says that its AEM-Spetsstal machine-building division has now manufactured and shipped to its industrial sites in Volgodonsk, Petrozavodsk and St Petersburg 75% of the metallurgical blanks - weighing over 650 tonnes - which will be used for the manufacture of key equipment including the reactor vessel and main circulation pipelines.

Rosatom said AEM-Spetsstal "provides all the key operations of this stage: steelmaking, forging and pressing, heat treatment and mechanical processing. The blanks undergo several levels of careful control of the conformity of the metal properties with the specified parameters, determining the required level of reliability and safety of the equipment for the manufacture of which they will be used".

Another part of the same Rosatom division, Petrozavodskmash, has begun welding pipes for the main circulation pipeline for unit 1, which will ultimately weigh 276 tonnes.

Meanwhile, Amged El-Wakeel, chairman of Egypt's Nuclear Power Plants Authority (NPPA), said that on 2 July, the crane known as the 'giant winch' had arrived on site. It has a maximum height of 156 metres and is capable of lifting up to 2000 tonnes. It arrived at Alexandria port by sea and was then transported in parts to the El Dabaa site to be installed.

A day earlier the core catcher for unit 3 had arrived by sea at El Dabaa from Russia. The three main parts for the reactor core trap had a total weight of 480 tonnes. El-Wakeel said that the new crane's first key job will be hoisting the reactor core catcher for unit 3 in place, which could happen in October.

The 6.1-metre diameter core catcher is a key part of the passive safety system for the VVER-1200 reactor - its function is that "in case of an emergency, it securely retains the fragments of the molten core and prevents the discharge beyond the reactor building containment".

Under the 2017 contracts, Rosatom will not only build the plant, but will also supply Russian nuclear fuel for its entire life cycle. It will also assist Egyptian partners in training personnel and plant maintenance for the first 10 years of its operation. Rosatom is also contracted to build a special storage facility and supply containers for storing used nuclear fuel. Construction of the nuclear power plant began in July 2022.

15
 
 

A new supercomputer named Bitterroot started operating in June at Idaho National Laboratory’s Collaborative Computing Center (C3) and is speeding up nuclear energy research by improving access to modeling and simulation tools. Bitterroot arrived at INL in March, and INL announced July 15 that it was open to users on June 18 after installation and an extensive program of testing.

Bitterroot joins other high-performance computing (HPC) resources at INL—including Sawtooth, C3’s flagship supercomputer—that can be accessed through the Department of Energy’s Nuclear Science User Facilities (NSUF) for nuclear energy–related research projects at no cost to the user. More than 1,300 researchers currently access HPC resources at the lab, according to the DOE, which celebrated the additional capacity from Bitterroot on July 15.

Bitterroot’s range: Bitterroot is a Dell-based CTS-2 that offers more than 43,000 processing cores with 3 petaflops of performance. Importantly, it is the first system supported by NSUF to offer high-bandwidth memory, and that will speed up computations in certain applications that previously have been slowed down by bandwidth limitations.

“NSUF’s flagship Sawtooth supercomputer is unable to keep with the high demand for high-priority, complex operations on its own,” the DOE said.

According to INL, Bitterroot’s memory “will improve performance for memory-bandwidth-limited applications like the Multiphysics Object Oriented Simulation Environment, better known as MOOSE, framework. MOOSE is the foundation for many of the tools that aid advanced nuclear research that support the existing reactor fleet as well as the development and eventual licensing of new designs.”

High-performance computing: “INL high performance computing is unique in that 80-90 percent of our computer cycles are dedicated to nuclear energy research,” said Matthew Anderson, manager of the High-Performance Computing group at INL. “Bitterroot brings us a new capability and additional capacity as we prepare for additional long-term investments in new computing resources.”

HPC allows engineers and scientists to model a wide variety of complex variables in advanced reactor materials and fuels before construction begins, such as how steel or concrete degrade over time and what byproducts build up in nuclear fuel. Supercomputers can support physical experiments by performing simulations to predict how materials will perform. Those predictions can be used to select the most promising experiments, which could reduce the time and cost required for technology development.

C3 was built in 2019 as a 67,000-square-foot facility equipped to host multiple supercomputers. In addition to Bitterroot, C3 is also home to Sawtooth (ranked the 37th fastest-performing supercomputer when it was installed in 2020) and INL’s other systems: Lemhi, Hoodoo, and Viz. In fiscal year 2023, the lab’s supercomputers provided users with 939 million core hours on more than 3.7 million jobs, according to INL.

Filling a gap: Bitterroot will be able to claim status as the NSUF’s newest supercomputer for just about one year. It will help bridge the gap in modeling and simulation needs while the NSUF works to bring its next flagship supercomputer—Teton—online in 2025.

Teton is anticipated to be three times as powerful as Sawtooth. Bitterroot and Sawtooth will continue operating after Teton comes online to help meet the high user demand from industry, national laboratories, and academia.

Bitterroot gets its name from an Idaho mountain range and continues INL’s tradition of naming its high-performance computers after Idaho landmarks. Sawtooth and Teton are also ranges in the Rocky Mountains.

More on the NSUF: The NSUF is the DOE Office of Nuclear Energy's only designated nuclear energy user facility. NSUF resources include test reactors, beamlines, post-irradiation examination, and HPC at university, national laboratory, and industry partner sites.

“Not every company in the nuclear industry has its own gamma irradiation facility or supercomputer, but we’re all working toward the same goal of deploying more carbon-free nuclear energy,” said NSUF director Brenden Heidrich. “You never know who will make the next breakthrough, and partnerships like NSUF are vital to help level the playing field.”

16
 
 

Source: https://www.world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/KHNP-selected-to-supply-new-Czech-nuclear-units

Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power has won the Czech government's contest for at least two new nuclear power units in the country, with its bid preferred to that from France's EDF.

The tender for new nuclear was originally for a binding offer for one new unit at Dukovany and non-binding offers for up to three more - another one at Dukovany and two at Temelín. But in February the Czech government announced it was changing the tender to binding offers for up to four new units, citing the cost savings per unit if they were not procured on a unit-by-unit basis. A third bidder, Westinghouse, did not go further in the process.

EDF was proposing its EPR1200 reactor, KHNP proposed its APR1000, with both companies stressing their agreements with Czech suppliers to localise work if selected as preferred bidder.

Czech Republic Prime Minister Petr Fiala announced the decision at a press conference, and posted a message on Facebook saying: "Contract negotiations will begin with the Korean company KHNP, which, based on the evaluation of experts, offered better conditions in most of the evaluated criteria, including the price."

The estimated cost of the new units

The evaluation was led by the team from Elektrárna Dukovany II with 206 evaluators and experts not only from EDUII, but also from the ČEZ Group and consulting companies, assessing the offers.

Overall, the documentation associated with the bids totalled approximately 200,000 pages of documents and the amount of time spent evaluating bids reached approximately 900 man-months. The contracting authority sent approximately 2700 questions to individual applicants and received answers to all of them.

The Czech government said the two bids were compared on a range of criteria including price per megawatt-hour produced. It said that if two units were contracted, the KHNP bid was for a cost of around CZK200 billion per unit (USD8.6 billion).

The winning bidder's reaction

In a statement issued to World Nuclear News following the announcement, KHNP's CEO Jooho Whang said: "I believe the primary reason the Czech government selected KHNP as the preferred bidder is because they recognised KHNP’s excellence in project management and construction capabilities, demonstrated by construction of 36 Korean nuclear reactors at home and abroad.

"Following KHNP’s successful project in the UAE, I expect that KHNP will play a pivotal role not only for Korea but globally in achieving energy security and carbon neutrality by constructing Korean nuclear reactors in the Czech Republic. A nuclear project involves long-term cooperation spanning approximately 100 years, covering construction through to operation. KHNP aims to solidify a 100-year friendship between the Czech Republic and Korea by constructing an APR1000 nuclear power plant. We will remain dedicated and exert our utmost efforts until the closing moments as we approach the upcoming negotiations with the project owner to ensure that the APR1000 reactor is built in the country."

What the Czech government has said

Fiala said: "Our goal was to come up with a solution that would be economically rational and ensure enough energy at an acceptable price. The offer of the Korean company KHNP meets these parameters. At the same time, it will bring a significant impetus to the development of the Czech economy thanks to the involvement of Czech industry to the extent of approximately 60%."

Minister of Industry and Trade Jozef Síkela said "it is clear that the preferred bidder offered a better price and more reliable guarantees of cost control, as well as the schedule of the entire project", adding "nuclear now provides us with more than a third of our electricity consumption, and in the future it should be around half. That is why its development is absolutely essential for us. At the same time, the variant of building two blocks in one location will ensure that many works will not have to be carried out twice, and will allow economies of scale to be used, thus leading to a significant reduction in costs. Specifically, about 20% per block. That's why we chose this option. It will be possible to decide on the possible use of the option for the construction of two more blocks, among other things, in connection with the development of the Czech energy industry."

CEO and Chairman of nuclear operator ČEZ, Daniel Beneš, said: "We have a clearly defined schedule, which provides for a fixed date for the start and completion of construction, and it is important for us that the selected contractor commits to it under the threat of sanctions. The offer of the preferred bidder was more satisfactory in this respect.'

The background

The Czech Republic currently gets about one-third of its electricity from the four VVER-440 units at Dukovany, which began operating between 1985 and 1987, and the two VVER-1000 units in operation at Temelín, which came into operation in 2000 and 2002.

What next?

The government has said its aim is for the contracts for the initial unit(s) to be finalised this year and signed by the end of March 2025. The target for test operation of the first new unit is 2036 with commercial operation in 2038.

Westinghouse 'reserves right to challenge decision'

Following the announcement Westinghouse issued a statement saying it reaffirmed its view that "KHNP is not authorised to use Westinghouse reactor technology... without Westinghouse’s agreement". It says KHNP has failed to comply with US export control rules, which it says require "authorisation from the US government before sharing technology beyond the agreed to Korea transfer" which is at the heart of on-going legal action in the USA involving the two companies. Westinghouse added that it "reserves its rights to challenge this in front of the relevant national and international jurisdictions".

17
 
 

Industry leaders from around the globe met this month to discuss the talent development that will be necessary for the long-term success of the nuclear industry.

The International Conference on Nuclear Knowledge Management and Human Resources Development, hosted by the International Atomic Energy Agency, was held in Vienna earlier this month. Discussed there was the agency’s forecast for nuclear capacity to more than double—or hopefully triple—by 2050 and the requirement of more than four million professionals to support the industry.

But with about one-third of the existing workforce expected to retire by 2033, the industry will need more than one million new workers to fill vacancies and support nuclear capacity growth. Key takeaways from the conference include the need to build strong partnerships among global organizations, to reach out to students early on, and to evaluate and act on recruitment competition from other industries.

Quotable: “The nuclear industry is evolving and the demand for well-trained, highly competent employees is growing,” said Mikhail Chudakov, deputy director general and head of the IAEA Department of Nuclear Energy. “It is critical that we identify and develop talented individuals so that they may become valued assets to their teams for years to come. And we must pursue development approaches that center [on] diversity and inclusion, and not only because this is the equitable thing to do, but also because innovation thrives when more people are given opportunities.”

Elsie Pule, a human resources executive for South Africa’s Eskom Holdings Soc Ltd. and conference president, said, “We must leverage our technological advancements, align with the values of the younger generation, engage students early, offer competitive compensation, and provide dynamic career opportunities. By doing so, we will secure the talent necessary to drive our industry forward and contribute to a sustainable future.”

Growing the ranks: Several initiatives were explored during the conference, including the Nuclear Knowledge Management school, a one-week course providing specialized education and training on how to implement nuclear knowledge management programs in nuclear science and technology organizations, including key organizations for nuclear program implementation and decision making.

As of February 2024, IAEA NKM schools have trained 1,139 professionals. Earlier this year, Australia hosted its first NKM school at the University of Adelaide’s Centre for Radiation Research, Education, and Innovation, and four more schools are planned for 2024.

The IAEA also helps countries draft human resource development plans, with an expert mission last May to Poland’s Polskie Elektrownie Jądrowe to assess its preparedness to meet human resource needs ahead of plans to deploy significant nuclear power capacity in the coming years.

Other agency programs include the Nuclear Energy Management school, a course designed to develop leaders in the nuclear energy field, and the International Nuclear Management Academy, an initiative developed to support grow the number of universities with master’s programs in various areas of nuclear technology management.

Diversity is key: Increasing the number of women in the nuclear field is a major priority for the IAEA and across the industry. A survey released in 2023 by the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency found that while many women in the nuclear industry want to advance their careers, they face challenges due to lack of flexible work practices and gender stereotyping. Roughly one-quarter of the nuclear workforce is female, but women hold less than 20 percent of upper management and executive positions.

At the time of the survey, the current recruitment rate of women was 28.8 percent, coupled with an attrition rate of 8.1 percent, which effectively put a ceiling for women in the industry of 28.8 percent over time. If recruitment increases to 50 percent women, however, and the attrition rate remains the same, women could reach 45 percent of nuclear sector employment by 2045, the survey concluded.

The Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship Program, launched in 2020, provides young women around the world with scholarships toward master’s degrees in the nuclear sector. As of July 2024, the program has supported 560 women from 121 countries with scholarships. And the Lise Meitner Program, which kicked off in 2022, provides early- and mid-career women with opportunities to take part in visiting professional programs designed to advance their skills.

About the conference: Held July 1–5 at the IAEA’s Vienna headquarters, more than 760 registrants from 108 countries and nine invited organizations attended. The conference explored topics including leadership development, technology innovation, and stakeholder engagement, as well as challenges in and strategies for human resource development.

“Effective knowledge management ensures that critical information, expertise, and best practices are preserved and transferred across generations, preventing knowledge loss and enhancing operational safety and efficiency. Human resource development, through continuous education and training, equips professionals with the necessary skills to adapt to technological advancements and regulatory changes, fostering innovation and maintaining high safety standards,” said Kim Pringle, co–vice president of the conference and director of human capacity building at Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy. “Together, they ensure the industry remains resilient, safe, and capable of meeting future energy demands, and this conference facilitated a collaborative and engaging environment to achieve this goal.”

18
 
 

Source: https://www.nucnet.org/news/world-s-first-mox-fuel-containing-minor-actinides-loaded-at-beloyarsk-4-7-2-2024

Russia has loaded what it claims are the world’s first fuel assemblies containing uranium-plutonium mixed oxide (MOX) fuel along with minor actinides into the Beloyarsk-4 BN-800 fast breeder reactor (FBR) near Yekaterinburg in central Russia.

Russia’s state nuclear operator Rosenergoatom said the fuel loading with the “innovative” assemblies is designed to confirm the possibility of industrial disposal of minor actinides.

Minor actinides are the most radiotoxic and long-lived components contained in used fuel. The possibility of eliminating them using fast neutron reactors will reduce the volume of radioactive waste from the entire infrastructure of the nuclear fuel cycle resulting from the operation of nuclear power plants, said Beloyarsk NPP director Ivan Sidorov.

Three experimental MOX assemblies containing the minor actinides americium-241 and neptunium-237 manufactured at Rosatom’s Mining & Chemical Combine (MCC) were loaded into the reactor core after approval by the regulator. State nuclear corporation Rosatom said the Federal Service for Ecological, Technological and Nuclear Supervision (Rostekhnadzor) had confirmed the safety of the assemblies.

In the BN-800 reactor, the assemblies will undergo experimental industrial operation during three cycles.

Beloyarsk-4 is an 820-MW FBR that began commercial operation in October 2016.

An FBR is designed to generate more fissile material than it consumes, allowing a significant increase in the amount of energy obtained from natural, depleted and recycled uranium.

The technology also enables plutonium and other actinides to be used and recycled, considerably reducing the amount of long-lived radioactive waste.

MOX fuel is manufactured from plutonium recovered from used reactor fuel, mixed with depleted uranium. It provides a means of using surplus weapons-grade plutonium for civilian energy generation. This eliminates the need for the storage of surplus plutonium, which needs to be secured against the risk of theft for use in nuclear weapons.

19
 
 

Jenifer Shafer, the associate director for technology at the Advanced Research Projects Agency­–Energy (ARPA-E), recently delivered a TEDx talk in which she explained the basic concepts of nuclear waste recycling, including related nonproliferation issues. As Shafer wrote in a post on LinkedIn, “In my talk, I explored the misconceptions surrounding nuclear waste and discuss[ed] the possible emerging opportunities regarding nuclear fuel recycling. It’s crucial that we understand the real potential of nuclear energy, and leveraging our ‘nuclear treasure,’ in shaping a sustainable future.”

Two concerns: Shafer, whose research activities at ARPA-E focus on the development of proliferation-resistant technologies in advanced reactor deployment and on the management of nuclear waste and used nuclear fuel, begins her TEDx talk with an observation. “Pretty much any time I talk to someone about nuclear energy, they have one of two concerns. The first one: Is nuclear safe? And to that I say, yes, nuclear is arguably the safest energy technology in existence, and future reactors are planned to be even safer. The second question: What about the waste?” To that question she has a simple response: “Nuclear waste is not waste.”

She continues, “Ninety-five percent of the energy value [of nuclear waste] is still sitting there waiting to be used. . . . There’s so much potential there. We just need nuclear recycling to help us get us there.”

A different moniker: Shafer goes on to suggest that nuclear waste might be more properly called “nuclear treasure,” because of its continued value as an energy resource, explaining that most of the elements in waste are “uranium and plutonium, and you can make energy from them again. But a small fraction of them, that 5 percent, are these expensive elements like rhodium or palladium or critical life-saving elements like medical radioisotopes.

“If we recover the material and separate the uranium and plutonium and put them back into the reactor and then sell the expensive and life-saving elements, then nuclear recycling starts to make a lot of sense.”

Plutonium problem: Shafer addresses the issue of proliferation by noting that “many of the recycling technologies, some of our most developed ones, generate pure plutonium streams. That’s right—that plutonium that has been used in nuclear weapons,” which is a clear concern for nonproliferation. “If [that plutonium] ends up in a nuclear bomb instead of a nuclear reactor, we could have a life-altering, Earth-shattering geopolitical consequence on our hands.

“And this is the work that my research group is working on at the Colorado School of Mines,” she continues. In addition to her ARPA-E role, she leads a research group at the university working on the development of more efficient nuclear separations that generate less waste “by co-recovering all the energy-producing elements—the uranium, the plutonium, and some like neptunium and americium.”

Back in the reactor: By co-recovering the plutonium from the waste stream, “we actually make a material that is much, much less attractive for making a nuclear bomb,” Shafer explains. “Additionally, one of the most important things we can do is get plutonium back in the reactor, so that it’s being split into lighter elements that you can’t make a weapon out of.”

Shafer further notes that new sensors and digital technologies make it easier for operators to “keep better track of the plutonium in the nuclear recycling facility,” thereby adding to nonproliferation safeguards.

The full 10-minute talk is available on the TEDx Talks channel on YouTube: https://yt.artemislena.eu/watch?v=VRfjqd00kc8

20
 
 

While no development details have been released, Constellation is asking to rezone 658.8 acres of land it owns around the Byron nuclear plant in Illinois for possible long-term use.

Constellation spokesman Paul Dempsey said via email: “Reclassifying some existing parcels from agricultural to industrial would allow Constellation to use the land for future development.”

A closer look: The Ogle County, Ill., board heard an update from board member Dan Janes at its June meeting regarding ongoing petition work by Constellation, the owner of the Byron nuclear power plant, to change the zoning classification of some of its property.

Janes said that Constellation wants to change all of its agricultural-zoned land to industrial zoning due to some "very positive things that could happen up and around the nuclear plant.” The county board is working through the process as quickly as possible and it could be seen for approval at the July 16 board meeting.

"This would give [Constellation] the opportunity to look into some very demanding customers to help their industry," Janes said. "I cannot share all of the information. This would probably have a very positive impact on our county's equalized assessed value. It could have the opportunity to be as big as big can get in Ogle County. We need to do this so we're first on the list."

The ground that would see zoning changes is mostly on top of the quarry on which the nuclear plant is built.

Noted: Constellation’s chief executive Joe Dominguez said in the company’s most recent earnings call in May that it is considering adding advanced nuclear technology at its current sites to provide the quickest near-term support for increased power generation demands as data centers and artificial intelligence growth strain the U.S. power grid. Several nuclear companies, including Constellation, have also expressed interest in developing data center campuses on adjoining property to help meet energy demand with carbon-free generation.

Byron history: In 2020, Exelon (then owner of Byron and Illinois’s five other nuclear plants) announced plans to prematurely retire the Byron plant due to economic constraints.

In 2021, the Illinois governor signed into law the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (S.B. 2408) to overhaul the state’s energy policies and aid three of Exelon’s struggling nuclear plants—Braidwood, Byron, and Dresden—and phase out fossil-fuel power generation in the state by 2050.

21
 
 

Source: https://www.world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Construction-starts-on-Xudabao-2

The first batch of concrete has been poured for the nuclear island of unit 2 at the Xudabao nuclear power plant in China's Liaoning Province, marking the official start of construction of the unit.

The construction of units 1 and 2 of the Xudabao (also known as Xudapu) plant was approved by China's State Council on 31 July last year.

On 6 November, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment announced that the National Nuclear Safety Administration had decided to issue a construction licence for Xudabao units 1 and 2, which will both feature 1250 MWe CAP1000 reactors - the Chinese version of the Westinghouse AP1000.

A ceremony was held on 15 November at the Xudabao site near Xingcheng City, Huludao, to mark the start of construction of unit 1.

The Xudabao project was originally expected to comprise six CAP1000 reactors, with units 1 and 2 in the first phase. Site preparation began in November 2010. The National Development and Reform Commission gave its approval for the project in January 2011. China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) noted that the total investment in units 1 and 2 exceeds CNY48 billion (USD6.6 billion).

However, with a change in plans, construction of two Russian-supplied VVER-1200 reactors as Xudabao units 3 and 4 began in July 2021 and May 2022, respectively.

"The Xudabao nuclear power plant has officially entered a new stage of comprehensive construction of two models and four units," CNNC said. "At present, the construction of the four units of the Xudabao nuclear power project is progressing in an orderly manner. Units 1 and 2 are scheduled to be put into operation and generate electricity in 2028 and 2029, respectively; units 3 and 4 have all entered the equipment installation stage, and all important milestone nodes have been achieved on schedule with high quality. They are scheduled to be put into operation and generate electricity in 2027 and 2028, respectively."

The Xudabao plant is owned by Liaoning Nuclear Power Company Ltd, in which CNNC holds a 70% stake with Datang International Power Generation Co holding 20% and State Development and Investment Corporation owning 10%. The general contractor is China Nuclear Power Engineering Company Ltd, a subsidiary of CNNC.

Two further CAP1000 reactors are proposed for units 5 and 6 at the Xudabao plant.

After all the six units of the plant are put into operation, they will provide more than 54 TWh of clean electricity every year, saving about 19.2 million tonnes of coal annually, and reducing carbon dioxide emissions by about 56.7 million tonnes annually, CNNC said.

With construction of Xudabao 2 under way, CNNC now has 12 reactors being built in China, with a combined generating capacity of 13.9 GWe.

22
 
 

Construction has begun on China’s largest natural uranium production project in the Ordos Basin in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of northern China, according to China Atomic Energy Authority (CAEA), as reported in state media.

The project is being developed by state-run China National Nuclear Corporation and is part of CAEA’s nuclear industry development plan.

CAEA said the project’s key technical indicators are “among the best in the world”. It will have China’s largest production capacity and further improve the country’s security of supply of natural uranium, CAEA said.

China accounts for almost half the reactors under construction globally and is the fastest expanding nuclear power generator in the world..

According to International Atomic Energy Agency data, China has 25 nuclear plants under construction. It has 56 plants in operation that in 2023 generated a 4.9% share of electricity production.

To achieve carbon neutrality in 2060, China has planned to significantly increase the share of nuclear power in the electricity mix.

International Energy Agency analysis earlier this year showed that China has added more than 34 GW of nuclear power capacity in the past 10 years, nearly tripling its nuclear capacity and significantly increasing demand for uranium which it is sourcing both at home and abroad.

According to GlobalData, China was the world’s eighth-largest producer of uranium in 2023, with output up by 0.5% on 2022. But Chinese domestic and overseas uranium production remains limited and cannot satisfy the needs of the Chinese growing nuclear fleet

Statista said that in 2024, demand for uranium in China was estimated at about 13,000 tonnes, up from 11,300 tonnes a year earlier.

23
 
 

Source: https://www.world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Final-permit-issued-for-Mauritanian-uranium-mine

Australia-based mineral company Aura Energy Limited announced it has received from the Mauritanian government the last outstanding material permit to allow the construction and operation of the Tiris uranium project in the West African country.

The authorisation to develop, mine and produce uranium oxide concentrate was issued by the National Authority for Radiation Protection, Safety and Nuclear Security (ARSN) on 12 July.

Aura Energy said that receiving the permit "is a very significant step towards achieving a Final Investment Decision (FID) by Q1 2025".

It added that approvals for the export of uranium will be granted as part of a routine export monitoring programme and in accordance with international safeguards for monitoring the movement of radioactive materials. Aura Energy noted there are no limits on the volumes of future uranium production, which will allow significant flexibility for the operation including the potential for future expansion of the annual production rate beyond 2 million pounds U3O8 (769 tU). Production rates are currently being investigated on the back of the significant 55% increase in mineral resources to 91.3 million pounds U3O8 announced in mid-June.

Aura Energy said it has contracted "a major international company specialising in the transportation of radioactive materials" for the future seaborne transportation of uranium oxide concentrate produced from Tiris to international converters.

In addition, the Mauritanian government, by order of Prime Minister Mohamed Ould Bilal, has formed an inter-ministerial committee to facilitate and support the development of Tiris and the uranium mining industry in Mauritania. The committee will be headed by ARSN and will be a central point of contact for all ministries to facilitate and support the rapid development of the future Tiris uranium mine.

"We are very pleased with the very high levels of support and confidence shown by the Mauritian Government towards Aura and the development of a long-term globally significant uranium mining industry in Mauritania, commencing with Tiris," said Aura Managing Director and CEO, Andrew Grove. "The final approval and formation of the inter-ministerial committee are important steps as we rapidly progress towards FID and developing a uranium mine at Tiris in the near-term."

Tiris, located in the Sahara Desert in northeast Mauritania, was first discovered by Aura Energy in 2008, and is the first major calcrete uranium discovery in the region. The mineralisation largely lies within 3 to 5 metres of the surface, and will be mined using conventional open pit methods.

A Front-End Engineering and Design study published in February this year demonstrated Tiris to be a near-term low-cost 2 million pounds U3O8 per year near-term uranium mine with a 17-year mine life with excellent economics and optionality to expand to accommodate future resource growth.

24
 
 

Comprehensive analysis of 245 operational coal power plants in the United States by a team of researchers at the University of Michigan has scored each site’s advanced reactor hosting feasibility using a broad array of attributes, including socioeconomic factors, safety considerations, proximity to populations, existing nuclear facilities, and transportation networks. The results could help policymakers and utilities make decisions about deploying nuclear reactors at sites with existing transmission lines and a ready workforce.

The research—“Investigation of potential sites for coal-to-nuclear energy transitions in the United States”—was published in the June 2024 issue of the journal Energy Reports and is described in a July 9 news article from University of Michigan.

Indiana is on top: The R. M. Schahfer coal plant in Indiana emerged as the most feasible smaller-capacity site (categorized as a site generating 1,000 MWe or less) for a coal-to-nuclear transition, while the AES Petersburg plant in Indiana was at the top of the list of larger-capacity sites (those with generating capacity above 1,000 MWe).

The fact that Indiana is a key contender for coal-to-nuclear should come as no surprise because of the state’s current reliance on coal generation. Indiana burned coal for 52 percent of its electricity net generation in 2022 and was the nation’s third-largest coal consumer after Texas and Missouri, according to the Energy Information Administration. Indiana hosts one research reactor (at Purdue University) and no nuclear power reactors.

Cleaning up coal sites: We’re hearing a lot about coal-to-nuclear transitions lately, including from the Department of Energy. Nuclear power can replace a coal plant’s stable baseload generation, but with zero carbon emissions. Choosing an operational coal plant as a new nuclear site can save time and money, according to the UMich study, by taking advantage of existing equipment like transmission lines and power system components. Host communities can retain jobs and tax bases as coal plants are phased out. But the feasibility of reactor hosting can vary from site to site.

“This dataset can support economic revitalization plans in regions affected by coal plant closures and provide information for engagement efforts in coal communities considering hosting clean energy facilities,” said Aditi Verma, assistant professor of nuclear engineering and radiological sciences at UMich and senior author of the study.

“With no new coal plants planned and many utilities aiming to retire all coal power plants within 15 years in the U.S., transitioning to cleaner energy sources is crucial,” said Muhammad Rafiul Abdussami, a doctoral student of nuclear engineering and radiological sciences at UMich and corresponding author of the study.

STAND for nuclear: To include both technical and socioeconomic factors, the researchers used the Siting Tool for Advanced Nuclear Development (STAND) for their analysis. The tool’s ability to evaluate multiple sites simultaneously while balancing a suite of objectives offers a more scalable and robust analysis than previous studies, which focused on a few representative plants, according to the university.

STAND was collaboratively developed by UMich, Argonne National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the National Reactor Innovation Center, and it allows users to optimize socioeconomic factors, safety, and proximity.

The data: Results revealed a broad spectrum of suitability levels and trade-offs across different locations, highlighting both the feasibility and complexity of transitioning from coal to nuclear capacity. Regional attributes like energy prices and nuclear policies strongly influenced suitability. For the smaller electric capacity group, feasibility scores ranged from 51.52 to 84.31 out of 100, with a median of 66.53. Scores for the larger electric capacity group ranged from 47.29 to 76.92, with a median of 63.97.

“My hope is that this work, which looks at the potential for coal-to-nuclear transitions in a very granular way for each coal plant across the country, can inform the national and state-level conversations that are unfolding in real time,” Verma said. Supplemental data is available to researchers in the online version of the paper.

The work was sponsored by the Department of Energy Office of Nuclear Energy (project number DE-NE0009382) and was funded through the Nuclear Energy University Program.

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South Africa’s nuclear regulator has given state-owned Eskom permission to operate one of two units at the only nuclear station on the continent for another 20 years as electricity supply in the country remains fragile.

The National Nuclear Regulator granted an operating licence to the utility for it to operate Unit 1 at the Koeberg nuclear station near Cape Town until July 2044.

NNR chief executive officer Ditebogo Kgomo said in a press briefing on 15 July that the regulator had deferred its decision on Unit 2.

The 40-year operating licence for Koeberg-1 was due to expire this month, but in 2021 Eskom applied for a 20-year extension to operations as part of efforts to end crippling power shortages.

The regulator is still assessing Eskom’s application to extend the life of Koeberg-2 by 20 years. That unit’s existing licence is valid until November 2025.

Eskom’s mostly coal-fired plants, which generate approximately 85% of the nation’s electricity, have been prone to breakdowns, resulting in power cuts in recent years.

Koeberg-1 began commercial operation in 1984 and Koeberg-2 in 1985. Both are pressurised water reactor units and according to Eskom have a combined capacity of 1,860 MW.

Koeberg is South Africa’s only commercial nuclear power station and the only such facility in Africa, although Russia is building a new nuclear station in Egypt.

Nuclear energy provided about 5% of South Africa’s electricity generation in 2022, according to International Atomic Energy Agency data.

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