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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.”

 

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.

 

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.

 

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."

 

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.

 

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.”

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.”

[–] [email protected] 0 points 3 days ago

Did not expect this to go to any other company but a Russian one tbh.

 

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".

 

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.

 

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.

[–] [email protected] 2 points 2 weeks ago

Really impressive that their design can be transported as a 200 MWe module. That truly brings the SMR promise closer!

[–] [email protected] 5 points 3 weeks ago

Well, he knows about this community now! 🙂

[–] [email protected] 5 points 3 weeks ago

"Like, you have no idea what we’re talking about, but you’re very opinionated about it."

Thought that was an apt summary of your posts on Kyle.

[–] [email protected] 1 points 1 month ago

Great question. This might actually play a role here. Nuclear energy has the lowest land impact of any energy source. They better involve the local population in this though.

[–] [email protected] 1 points 1 month ago

Adding pictures seems to work wonky: I now have to add them several times as they appear to remove themselves when writing out the post.

[–] [email protected] 1 points 1 month ago (1 children)

Yay, thanks!

[–] [email protected] 1 points 1 month ago (3 children)

What a crime against the climate and environment ☹️

[–] [email protected] 2 points 1 month ago (1 children)

Orban hasn't been around for that long.

[–] [email protected] 3 points 1 month ago (3 children)

Correct, Hungary's political development is on a worrying trajectory.

[–] [email protected] 1 points 2 months ago

De meeste SMRs zijn gewoon bewezen tech (PWR ontwerpen, sommige BWR, die we al decennia bouwen). Maar inderdaad is dit duur. Ga maar eens opzoeken wat het gaat kosten met zon en wind...

[–] [email protected] 1 points 2 months ago (2 children)
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