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submitted 1 month ago by [email protected] to c/[email protected]

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:

Mastodon:

Websites:

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Welcome! (feddit.nl)
submitted 1 year ago by [email protected] to c/[email protected]

Apparently no nuclear energy community existed just yet, so let this be the first 🙂

Some initial rules:

  1. Follow the rules of this instance:
  • No bigotry - including racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, or xenophobia.
  • Be respectful, especially when disagreeing. Everyone should feel welcome here.
  • No porn.
  • No Ads / Spamming.
  1. On the solar/wind vs nuclear debate: let's be clear that we need all technologies to get to zero carbon emissions. Debate is allowed though.

  2. If you open a topic for debate, participate in it. No one is interested in one sided hot takes and they'll be removed.

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submitted 6 hours ago by [email protected] to c/[email protected]

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.”

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submitted 8 hours ago by [email protected] to c/[email protected]

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".

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submitted 8 hours ago by [email protected] to c/[email protected]

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.

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

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.

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submitted 1 day ago by [email protected] to c/[email protected]

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

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submitted 1 day ago by [email protected] to c/[email protected]

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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submitted 1 day ago by [email protected] to c/[email protected]

Source: https://www.world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Partnership-aims-to-boost-Italian-nuclear-educatio

A cooperation agreement has been signed between Edison, Framatome and Politecnico di Milano for scientific and technological research and training in the field of nuclear energy. The move comes amid growing support in Italy to reintroduce nuclear energy.

Under the agreement, the partners will pool their respective technical knowledge and expertise in order to jointly develop research, development and innovation activities for the nuclear sector.

In particular, the cooperation agreement provides for joint projects through internships, master's degree and doctoral dissertations, seminars, workshops and other similar initiatives on technical topics of mutual interest. With the aim of improving the exchange of knowledge and know-how, the agreement will also provide for the organisation of meetings and training courses as well as visits for students and their respective employees to Framatome's production sites and plants and the Politecnico di Milano's and Edison's research laboratories.

"This agreement represents another step towards cooperation and research on new nuclear power and - with the support of universities - the development of the necessary expertise for new nuclear power in Italy," said Lorenzo Mottura, EVP Strategy, Innovation, Research & Development and Digital at Edison. "Thanks to this agreement, students at the Politecnico di Milano will benefit from direct access to and exchange with Edison - a leading operator in the Italian energy sector that is actively engaged in the development of new nuclear power in Italy - and Framatome, a European leader in the development and industrialisation of nuclear technology."

"The Politecnico di Milano is a prestigious university that promotes academic excellence in education and in the field of nuclear engineering," added Elisabeth Terrail, Senior Executive Vice President, Human Resources at Framatome. "Thanks to this agreement, students at the Politecnico will be called upon to apply what they have learnt to real projects in support of the existing fleet and the development of nuclear energy in Europe."

Marco Ricotti, Professor of Nuclear Engineering at the Politecnico di Milano said: "The Politecnico di Milano, the first university in Italy to engage in university education and research in the nuclear sector since the 1950s, confirms and increases its historical strength and attractiveness, both towards the new generations - tripling the number of students enrolled in this field in the last five years - and towards industrial stakeholders, committed to evaluating and developing new nuclear technologies, which are fundamental to contributing to the solution of the energy problem, in terms of environmental sustainability, strategic safety, and socio-economic impact."

Italy operated a total of four nuclear power plants starting in the early 1960s but decided to phase out nuclear power in a referendum that followed the 1986 Chernobyl accident. It closed its last two operating plants, Caorso and Trino Vercellese, in 1990.

In late March 2011, following the Fukushima Daiichi accident, the Italian government approved a moratorium of at least one year on construction of nuclear power plants in the country, which had been looking to restart its long-abandoned nuclear programme.

In May last year, the Italian Parliament approved a motion to urge the government to consider incorporating nuclear power into the country's energy mix. In September, the first meeting was held of the National Platform for a Sustainable Nuclear, set up by the government to define a time frame for the possible resumption of nuclear energy in Italy and identify opportunities for the country's industrial chain already operating in the sector. It is planned to develop guidelines within nine months.

Italy's government included potential new nuclear capacity in its National Integrated Energy and Climate Plan, which was submitted to the European Commission on 1 July.

Speaking the following day at the Global Energy Transition Congress in Milan, Italy's Minister for Environment and Energy Security, Gilberto Pichetto Fratin, said: We expect to be able to reach about 8 GW from nuclear power by 2050, covering more than 10% of the nation's electricity demand. This percentage may increase to over 20-22% by fully exploiting the potential of nuclear power in our country."

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submitted 1 day ago by [email protected] to c/[email protected]

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.

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submitted 1 day ago by [email protected] to c/[email protected]

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.

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submitted 1 day ago by [email protected] to c/[email protected]

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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submitted 1 day ago by [email protected] to c/[email protected]

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.

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Source: https://www.world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Study-to-assess-participation-in-Polish-supply-cha

A research project is being launched by the Polish Economic Institute to gauge the interest of Polish companies in participating in the construction of the country's first nuclear power plant.

The study - being carried out on behalf of Polskie Elektrownie Jądrowe (PEJ), in cooperation with Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego - aims to determine the potential of the Polish industry for the needs of the nuclear power plant project in Pomerania, as well as solutions that meet the needs of companies related to participation in the investment, such as financial support systems or assistance in obtaining appropriate certificates.

PEJ said analysis of the study results will allow it to recognise the interest of Polish companies in participating in the process of building the first nuclear power plant in Pomerania and will indicate the tools necessary to participate in the planned supply chain.

Poland currently has large-scale plans to develop nuclear energy capacity. In September 2021, it was announced that six large pressurised water reactors with a combined installed capacity of 6-9 GWe could be built by 2040 as part of the country's plan to reduce its reliance on coal. According to the adopted schedule, the construction of the first nuclear power plant will start in 2026, with the first reactor - with a capacity of 1.0-1.6 GWe - being commissioned in 2033. Subsequent units will be implemented every 2-3 years. The coastal towns of Lubiatowo and Kopalino in Poland's Choczewo municipality in the province of Pomerania were named as the preferred location for the country's first large nuclear power plant.

In November 2022, the Polish government announced the first plant, with a capacity of 3750 MWe, will be built in Pomerania using AP1000 technology from the US company Westinghouse. An agreement setting a plan for the delivery of the plant was signed in May last year by Westinghouse, Bechtel and PEJ.

The Polish Economic Institute, a public economic think tank, in direct cooperation with the investor, PEJ, will examine the level of potential interest of Polish companies in getting involved in this process, and will also identify barriers that may hinder them. The analysis will be the basis for preparing profiled actions aimed at supporting interested companies and suppliers, so that they can participate competitively in the supply chain.

The study will be conducted in the form of a survey consisting of several dozen detailed questions. The survey is open to all companies interested in cooperation in the construction of a Polish nuclear power plant. The Polish Economic Institute, which has extensive analytical experience in the field of nuclear energy, will be responsible for its implementation and subsequent development of the results.

"The detailed study takes into account the specificity of the sector and was preceded by qualitative research and industry consultations," said Adam Juszczak from the Polish Economic Institute. "The current stage, the quantitative study, will allow us to collect detailed information and opinions from entrepreneurs in this industry, regardless of their size and the area in which they operate.

"We hope that the study will be met with a great response from Polish companies and that we will be able to create a possibly broad picture of the challenges facing Polish companies on the eve of launching this strategic investment and also estimate the potential participation of domestic entities in the entire process, taking into account international legal regulations."

"The investment we are implementing is a huge opportunity not only for the country, but also for many Polish entrepreneurs," said Leszek Juchniewicz, president of the management board of PEJ. "That is why we would like them to have the opportunity to participate in the supply chain for the entire nuclear project. For this purpose, we decided to examine their approach to business cooperation in this area. The study will help determine the current state of knowledge of Polish companies, their level of preparation for the investment, as well as possible barriers and limitations."

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Source: https://www.world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Dummy-fuel-loaded-into-first-new-unit-at-Kursk-II

Preparations for testing of the reactor plant equipment at the new VVER-TOI reactor at Kursk II nuclear power plant continue with the loading of simulated fuel assemblies which do not contain uranium.

The process of installing the dummy fuel and simulators of the control rods was expected to take 10 days.

Alexander Uvakin, director of the Kursk nuclear power plant, said: "Next, during the cold-hot testing, we will check the operability of the reactor plant equipment and safety systems in operating modes ... when forming the reactor simulation zone, all operations are carried out as if the work was carried out with nuclear fuel, which allows us to practice nuclear fuel handling procedures on simulators in conditions as close as possible to operation."

Kursk II is a new nuclear power plant in western Russia, about 60 kilometres (37.5 miles) from the Ukraine border, that will feature two VVER-TOI reactors, the latest version of Russia's large light-water designs. They have upgraded pressure vessels and a higher power rating of 3300 MWt that enables them to generate 1300 MWe gross.

Construction of the first unit began in 2018, its polar crane was installed in October 2021 and the reactor vessel was put in place in June 2022. Concreting of the outer dome of the first unit was completed in August 2023.

Oleg Shperle, vice president of Atomstroyexport and director of the Kursk NPP-2 construction project, said: "The start of loading the simulators indicates that a certain volume of technical readiness of the transport and technological equipment included in the fresh nuclear fuel handling scheme and reactor plant equipment has been achieved. After the completion of loading ... the reactor assembly will continue and flushing and hydraulic testing of the primary and secondary circuit pipelines will begin."

All four units at the existing Kursk nuclear power plant are scheduled to have shut by 2031. The first unit was shut down after 45 years of operation in December 2021. The original design life for the four RBMK-1000 reactors at the plant was for 30 years but had been extended by 15 years following life extension programmes.

The first nuclear fuel for Kursk II was delivered to the site last month, with the expectation that the first would be loaded into the first new unit later this year. Rosatom said the TVS VVER-TOI nuclear fuel had been developed based on that for VVER-1000 and VVER-1200 reactors, with the design of the fuel cassettes providing "increased fuel loading, increased thermal reliability and more effective control of the reactor core during operation to improve the technical and economic characteristics of the nuclear power plant". There will be 163 fuel assemblies when fully loaded, and 313 fuel elements in each fuel assembly. The fuel cycle during operation will be 18 months.

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Source: https://www.world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/VVER-fuel-reliable-in-flexible-power-output-tests,

Experiments to test the impact of load following on VVER-1200 fuel show it "did not have a significant impact on its main characteristics", Russia's nuclear power corporation has reported.

Tests were carried out in the MIR research reactor at the Dimitrovgrad Research Institute of Atomic Reactors for Rosatom's fuel division TVEL. "The test scenario in the research reactor provided a complete simulation of the operation of nuclear fuel in the daily manoeuvring mode of the VVER-1200 power unit in the 18-month fuel cycle," Rosatom said.

The experiment tested the impact of changing the power of the reactor between 100% and 40%, seeking to reflect the patterns of electricity consumption - so 7 hours at 40% power overnight, 4 hours at 100% in the morning, 4 hours at 40% during the day and 9 hours at 100% power in the evening. The tests ran for 224 days during which 218 cycles of power increase and decreases were performed.

Alexander Ugryumov, senior vice president for scientific and technical activities at TVEL, said: "The results of the study confirmed that nuclear fuel produced by Rosatom fully retains its integrity and operability under conditions of multiple rapid changes in the linear power of the fuel element. This is another step towards justifying the operation of Russian high-power reactors in a manoeuvrable mode. Our industry studies on increasing the efficiency of nuclear generation are of considerable interest to foreign operators of Russian-designed NPPs."

The results of the tests mean that work will continue towards the possible future introduction of routine daily load following in nuclear power plant output.

The ability to ramp up - and down - nuclear power output is seen as especially useful in places where a high proportion of energy generation is from nuclear and where there are not gas or hydro power plants which can have their output reduced at times of low demand. Rosatom says: "It is expected that manoeuvring the capacity will help to increase the flexibility and efficiency of energy systems, and ultimately become another factor in the competitiveness of nuclear energy."

The VVER-1200 reactors have been designed to be capable of load following, unlike the older RBMK units which could only operate in baseload mode, which means running at full power the entire time between refuelling and maintenance outages.

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Source: https://www.world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Canadian-town-declares-willingness-to-host-reposit

The Township of Ignace in north-western Ontario has become the first community to confirm its willingness to move forward to the next phase of the site selection process to host a deep geological repository for Canada's used nuclear fuel.

Canada's Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) launched the process to select a suitable site for the deep geological repository (DGR) for Canada's used nuclear fuel in 2010. By 2012, 22 communities had expressed an interest in learning about the project and exploring their potential to host it. Eleven of those communities went forward to the second phase of NWMO's preliminary assessment process. By the end of 2019, the list of potential host communities had been narrowed down to two: the Revell Site, some 43 km northwest of the town of Ignace, and 21 km southeast of the Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation; and the South Bruce Site, about 5 km northwest of Teeswater in the municipality of South Bruce.

Ignace's willingness process provided numerous opportunities for the community to provide input on the project. A multi-phased community engagement programme led by a third-party engagement consultant, With Chéla Inc, included direct dialogue with residents, youth engagement and a community vote open to residents 16 and older. In addition, a volunteer Willingness Ad Hoc Committee considered the results of the engagement activities and provided guidance to Council on the community’s willingness to host the project.

The recommendations to Council outlined that 77.3% (495 participants) voted in favour of becoming a willing host community, whilst 20.8% (133) voted against and 1.9% (12) abstained. With Chéla estimated there were 1035 eligible participants and 660 opted into the process.

At a special meeting on 10 July, Ignace Council unanimously accepted and endorsed a set of recommendations from the Willingness Ad Hoc Committee and passed a resolution addressed to NWMO that indicates that the town is a willing host community for the DGR.

"We are proudly the first community in Canada to be indicating our support and our willingness to continue in the selection process by the NWMO in the potential siting of the DGR project in this area," said Mayor Kim Baigrie. "The residents of the Township of Ignace have spoken loud and clear and we fully respect their direction as a Council, and we clearly have now indicated our support through an official resolution to the NWMO based on the recommendations from our Willingness Ad Hoc Committee members."

"The endorsement by Township Council of this recommendation from the Willingness Ad Hoc Committee in no way, either guarantees that the Township will host a deep geological repository for used nuclear fuel, or that a final decision by the NWMO has been made on the actual siting of this multi-billion-dollar project," Ignace Council noted in a statement. "It simply indicates, through an official resolution to NWMO, that the community of Ignace has undertaken a willingness process and has now agreed to continue to be a potential willing host towards the decision from NWMO slated for later this year."

"We congratulate the Township and its residents for reaching this important step and admire the thought and care that has gone into this process and into shaping what the project could look like in the community," said NWMO Vice-President of Site Selection Lise Morton. "We could not have gotten to where we are today without the leadership and dedication to learning shown by the people of Ignace."

NWMO continues to collaborate with the three other communities involved in the site selection process to understand community willingness to move forward. Discussions are ongoing with Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation (WLON) in the northwest, Saugeen Ojibway Nation (comprised of the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation and the Chippewas of Saugeen First Nation) and the Municipality of South Bruce in the southwest, which will hold a municipal referendum in October.

NWMO has always said that the project will only proceed in an area with informed and willing host communities, where the municipality, Indigenous peoples, and others in the area are working together to implement it.

The Ignace Council said it respects that a decision by WLON will also be required to proceed if northwestern Ontario is selected to host the DGR.

NWMO is expected to make a final decision on the siting of the DGR by the end of December 2024. Once the final site selection has been made, its safety will be confirmed through a rigorous regulatory review of the repository design and safety case. The regulatory and licensing process is expected to take about 10 years to complete.

Construction of the repository is expected to begin in 2033, with operations beginning in the early-2040s.

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Source: https://www.world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/UN-motion-calls-for%C2%A0Zaporizhzhia-plant-s-return-to

The United Nations General Assembly voted by 99 votes to 9, with 60 abstentions, for Russia to "immediately return the plant to the full control of the sovereign and competent authorities of Ukraine". Meanwhile the IAEA warns about the impact of the war on the city where most of the nuclear power plant workers live.

Extracts of United Nations resolution

The UN General Assembly resolution "demands that the Russian Federation urgently withdraw its military and other unauthorised personnel from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and immediately return the plant to the full control of the sovereign and competent authorities of Ukraine to ensure its safety and security and in order for the International Atomic Energy Agency to conduct safe, efficient and effective safeguards implementation in accordance with the comprehensive safeguards agreement and additional protocol of Ukraine, consistent with the repeated calls by the General Conference and the Board of Governors of the Agency".

It also "calls upon the Russian Federation, until it returns the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant of Ukraine to the full control of the sovereign and competent authorities of Ukraine, to provide the International Atomic Energy Agency Support and Assistance Mission to Zaporizhzhia with timely and full access to all areas at the plant that are important for nuclear safety and security in order to allow the Agency to report fully on the nuclear safety and security situation at the site".

And it calls upon "all parties to the armed conflict to implement fully the 'seven indispensable pillars for ensuring nuclear safety and security during an armed conflict' and the five concrete principles of the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency to help to ensure nuclear safety and security at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant ... urges the Russian Federation to immediately remove all anti-personnel mines placed along the perimeter of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant".

What was Russia's reaction?

Russia's First Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Dmitry Polyansky, was reported by the official Tass news agency as calling it "another nonconsensual, politicised draft [which] will have absolutely no effect on the ground, as the previous ones". The resolution was opposed by nine countries - Belarus, Burundi, North Korea, Cuba, Mali, Nicaragua, Russia, Syria and Eritrea - with the 60 abstaining including India and China.

Continuing IAEA concerns about safety at Zaporizhzhia

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in its latest update on the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (ZNPP), said it was concerned about military action in the area and especially its impact on the workers who live in the nearby town of Energodar which has suffered power cuts, water shortages and forest fires over recent days.

The IAEA said it had been told by the operators of ZNPP an attack had damaged an electrical transformer in a sub-station in Energodar as well as shelling which damaged a water pumping station. Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said: "These latest attacks have not targeted the nuclear power plant directly, as in April. However, continued military activity in the region remains a serious concern and it is essential that the ... plant is protected to ensure nuclear safety and security. The sporadic loss of basic living essentials such as electricity and drinking water is affecting the staff and families at all nuclear power plants and facilities throughout Ukraine, potentially impacting on their ability to perform their important nuclear safety and security work."

The six unit nuclear power plant, which has been under Russian military control since early March 2022, is located on the frontline of the Russian and Ukrainian forces. There have been IAEA experts stationed at the site since September 2022 as part of efforts to support safety and security measures. They conduct regular walks and inspection of parts of the site, but have "continued to hear explosions and gunfire at various distances from the plant on a near daily basis over the past week".

They also reported that the recent hot weather had led to the level of the cooling pond dropping by about one centimetre a day, falling to below 15 metres for the first time since the Kakhovka dam was destroyed last year.

Elsewhere in Ukraine

The IAEA also has experts stationed at Ukraine's other nuclear power plants - Khmelnitsky, Rivne and South Ukraine, as well as at Chernobyl - and they report that nuclear safety and security is being maintained. The IAEA also says that a further four deliveries of equipment took place over the past week to support Ukraine in maintaining nuclear safety and security - bringing the total number of deliveries to 55 since the war began.

The Rivne nuclear power plant received measurement instruments, Khmelnitsky got filter absorbers, there was nuclear security equipment for State Enterprise USIE Izotop and also power supply units for the radiation monitoring network operated by the State Emergency Service of Ukraine.

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submitted 5 days ago by [email protected] to c/[email protected]

Source: https://www.world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/L-T-flags-off-second-steam-generator-for-new-Kaiga

Indian engineering company Larsen & Toubro (L&T) has shipped the second steam generator destined for the units 5 and 6 of the Kaiga nuclear power plant in Karnataka State.

A "flagging off" ceremony was held on 12 July by L&T to mark the shipment of the steam generator from its Hazira complex in Gujarat.

Speaking at the ceremony, Anil Parab, whole-time director and senior executive vice president - L&T Heavy Engineering & L&T Valves, said: "L&T Heavy Engineering, as an industry trendsetter, continues to create global benchmarks in delivery of critical nuclear equipment. Eleven-month early delivery of this second steam generator is another example of consistency and resilience even during pandemic and supply chain disruptions. We are fully geared up as the trusted and dedicated partner of the Department of Atomic Energy and Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) to triple the current installed nuclear power capacity to 100 GWe by 2047."

In March 2018, L&T Special Steels and Heavy Forgings Private Limited - a joint venture between L&T and NPCIL - received an order worth INR4.42 billion (USD52.9 million) from NPCIL to supply forgings for steam generators. These forgings will be used in the manufacture of the critical equipment for six new indigenous 700 MWe pressurised heavy water reactors (PHWRs), part of the Indian government's plan to construct ten PHWR units.

The Indian cabinet in 2017 approved the construction of ten domestically designed 700 MWe PHWR units using a fleet mode of construction to bring economies of scale as well as maximising efficiency. The first two of these units are Kaiga 5 and 6.

L&T delivered the first steam generator for Kaiga units 5 and 6 in March this year, 12 months ahead of contractual delivery.

Steam generators are heat exchangers used to convert water into steam from heat produced in a nuclear reactor core. In PHWRs, the coolant is pumped, at high pressure to prevent boiling, from the reactor coolant pump, through the nuclear reactor core, and through the tube side of the steam generators before returning to the pump.

L&T says it has "a proven track record of manufacturing more than 42 steam generators for major nuclear power plants across the nation".

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Kazakhstan, the world’s largest producer of uranium for nuclear power plants, has announced a significant increase in its mineral extraction tax for uranium.

In a statement on its website on 10 July, Kazakh state uranium mining company Kazatomprom noted that, as a result of the planned uranium tax increase, different companies’ joint ventures and subsidiaries are expected to have different applicable tax rates, starting in 2026.

The new tax rate changes will come in two waves. The first, effective from 1 January 2025, will impose an initial increase from the current 6% to 9%.

Starting in 2026, the tax will take on a more complex and differentiated rate structure based on production volumes and the price of natural uranium concentrate (U3O8).

For production volumes up to 500 metric tonnes, the rate will be 4%, increasing incrementally to a maximum of 18% for volumes exceeding 4,000 metric tonnes.

Additionally, if the price of U3O8 exceeds certain thresholds, an additional rate increase will apply, starting at 0.5% for prices above $70/lb and rising to a maximum of 2.5% for prices above $110/lb.

Kazakhstan's government said the tax increase as part of broader economic reforms aimed at balancing the budget and redistributing wealth more equitably.

“Our minerals extraction tax rates are among the lowest in the world,” economy minister Alibek Kuantyrov said. “I think we can carefully raise it by 10-20 percent.”

Investing News Network said the changes come amid increased government spending in response to global economic pressures and the conflict in Ukraine.

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Because of its hardness and its hardiness in the face of high temperatures, silicon carbide has been used for industrial purposes for decades. It has proven its worth as a key component of tiny TRISO fuel particles. But SiC has a weakness—in its pure form it is too brittle for use in structural components, such as 12-foot-long light water reactor fuel cladding tubes.

General Atomics–Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) has engineered a solution to produce nuclear fuel cladding using SiC that can withstand extreme temperatures of up to 3,800°F. According to the Department of Energy, which has supported GA-EMS through its Accident Tolerant Fuel program, SiGA cladding is now on track to be fully demonstrated by the end of this decade, with commercialization in early 2030. GA-EMS is preparing for commercialization by continuing its testing program and developing domestic manufacturing capabilities.

A composite: SiGA is made from SiC—a ceramic material made of silicon and carbon in a high-purity crystalline composition. SiC’s advantage lies in its heat resistance, but GA-EMS explains that “its brittleness in pure form limits its use as a structural material. However, it can be significantly toughened to address this brittleness by reinforcing monolithic SiC with SiC fibers (forming a composite known as a ceramic matrix composite, or CMC).”

The fiber “reinforces the material similar to the way steel rebar is used to reinforce concrete,” according to the DOE. The composite can tolerate temperatures up to 3,800°F—roughly 500 degrees hotter than the melting point of zirconium alloys typically used for cladding.

According to the DOE, SiGA cladding also “features a novel sealing technology capable of withstanding pressures far beyond that typical of light water reactor conditions.”

Testing: GA-EMS has created 6-inch-long SiGA rodlets and 3-foot cladding samples to reactor-grade specifications that will undergo irradiation testing at Idaho National Laboratory. Recent work has demonstrated that the process is scalable to full-length 12-foot fuel rods, according to the DOE. Accelerated fuel qualification is underway using research reactors, commercial reactors, and modeling and simulation.

GA-EMS reports that it began working on SiC composites for nuclear fuel cladding applications in 2009. That work has been supported by funding, irradiation testing, and post-irradiation examination support from the DOE’s Accident Tolerant Fuel program, which was established in 2012 to improve the operating performance, economic efficiency, and safety of LWRs with novel fuel technologies—including cladding—and allowing for longer response times at high temperatures in accident situations.

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Workers at the Department of Energy’s Hanford Site in Washington state recently unloaded a shipment of more than 10,000 gallons of sodium hydroxide delivered to the site’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP). The liquid sodium hydroxide will be the first chemical fed into the plant’s melters to simulate Hanford’s radioactive and chemical tank waste.

“The delivery of sodium hydroxide is an important precursor to several months of testing using simulated waste, known as the cold commissioning phase,” said Mat Irwin, the DOE Office of Environmental Management’s acting assistant manager for the WTP project. “WTP crews will test the waste processing and exhaust treatment systems in the plant’s Low-Activity Waste Facility before introducing actual tank waste into the plant during hot commissioning.”

Prep work: According to the DOE, commissioning of the facility is an important step in preparing to vitrify, or immobilize in glass, 53 million gallons of waste from Hanford’s large underground tanks.

A second, longer-term use of sodium hydroxide will be to treat hazardous liquids coming from the facility’s exhaust treatment system and the system that treats liquids generated during the vitrification process.

The DOE noted that many industries use sodium hydroxide, commonly known as lye, as a versatile chemical. However, like other industrial chemicals, it must be treated as a hazardous substance. To ensure its safe handling on site, workers are required to follow strict safety protocols during its use, which includes storing it in an isolated tank at the WTP.

“Our team prepared for this delivery by implementing safety measures to ensure the safe handling, storage, and use of sodium hydroxide on site,” said Rick Holmes, Bechtel National’s principal vice president and general manager for the Waste Treatment Completion Company, the primary subcontractor to Bechtel. Bechtel is charged with the design, construction, and startup of the WTP. “The team’s success marks an important step toward cold commissioning later this year and preparing for the future sustained production of vitrified waste.”

Looking ahead: During future waste treatment operations, treated waste from Hanford’s underground tanks will be fed directly into melters inside the site’s Low-Activity Waste Facility. The waste will be mixed with glass-forming materials and heated, then poured into stainless steel containers for disposal at Hanford’s Integrated Disposal Facility.

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Scientists at the IAEA are helping local researchers in Cuba find dangerous biotoxins in marine algae that can lead to outbreaks of contaminated seafood.

Ciguatoxins are poisons produced by harmful blooms of microscopic algae, which occur mostly in tropical areas and mainly affect small island developing states. These biotoxins can accumulate in the food chain, especially in larger fish, presenting a risk to humans who consume them.

The symptoms of ciguatera poisoning can range from digestive distress to neurological symptoms such as numbness and weakness.

Each year, outbreaks of these harmful algal blooms (HABs) are responsible for thousands of poisonings all over the globe due to the consumption of contaminated seafood. HABs disrupt the food chain and can kill marine life and sea birds.

Many countries have struggled to detect and manage ciguatoxins in HABs effectively.

To address the ciguatoxin problem, the IAEA has been building capacity for ciguatera monitoring through nuclear and isotopic techniques that can quickly identify biotoxins in seafood and accurately identify outbreaks compared to other methods. The IAEA’s Marine Environment Laboratories help ensure that innovative detection methods can be adopted by the countries most affected by ciguatera.

For instance, the IAEA has arranged training in Cuba on a new approach to use a ‘receptor binding assay’ (RBA) to detect ciguatoxins even in samples containing multiple toxin variants. This equips local scientists with the tools to identify fish at high-risk from ciguatoxin contamination and make informed decisions about seafood safety.

The RBA technology is of particular importance, as it is now used as a recognized regulatory method to certify the safety of seafood, such as shellfish imported to the European Union for consumption.

The transfer of this RBA technology to Caribbean nations has empowered local scientists to monitor marine toxins more effectively. The early detection of harmful algal blooms that produce ciguatoxins has helped Caribbean nations to implement early warning systems for seafood safety. The IAEA has organized international workshops to train scientists from small island developing states in the latest techniques to detect marine toxins and foster global collaboration and knowledge exchange so that even nations with limited resources can better protect their citizens and maintain safe, sustainable fisheries.

The scientific data collected assists member countries in detecting and characterizing biotoxins, which enhances preparedness and response to relevant public health emergencies.

“With the right tools, ciguatera blooms and ciguatoxin outbreaks can be effectively mitigated,” said Alejandro Garcia Moya, Director of the Environmental Studies Centre of Cienfuegos (CEAC). “The IAEA workshops to transfer knowledge on marine toxin monitoring and management techniques are a key aspect in capacity building and strengthening in small islands developing states and consequently have a direct impact on the management of harmful algal blooms and their effects on our marine environments and the people relying on them.” 

“The IAEA has been collaborating with CEAC to enhance ciguatera monitoring in the region using nuclear and isotopic techniques,” said Florence Descroix-Comanducci, Director of the IAEA’s Marine Environment Laboratories. “Our expertise in nuclear science and technology and collaborations with scientific partners are a testament to what collaborative science can achieve.”

Implementation of early warning systems for harmful algal blooms

In 2023, the FAO, IAEA and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission published a technical guide on setting up an early warning system for HABs. The guide, which focuses on managing HABs affecting food safety and security, offers steps for authorities to enhance their current warning systems or build new ones, ensuring safety against threats from toxins in HABs getting into the food chain.

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Source: https://www.world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Dominion-considers-deploying-SMR-at-North-Anna

US utility Dominion Energy has issued a Request for Proposals from small modular reactor vendors to evaluate the feasibility of developing an SMR at its North Anna nuclear power plant in Virginia.

"While the RFP is not a commitment to build an SMR at North Anna, it 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 (IRP)," Dominion said.

In its 2023 IRP, the company said it plans to continue evaluating the feasibility, operating parameters, and costs of SMRs and will update modeling assumptions related to SMRs in future filings.

"Potential cost reductions relative to the assumptions reflected in the 2023 Plan may be realised as the design of SMRs matures and as anticipated construction schedules are established. Based on updated capital, operating and maintenance costs, continued progress of licensing timelines, and new policy initiatives or legislative changes, it is conceivable that the deployment of SMRs could be further accelerated by the company, with the first SMR being placed in service within a decade," it said.

The issuance of the RFP was announced at an event on 10 July at the North Anna site. Company leaders were joined at the event by Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin, Virginia Lieutenant Governor Winsome Earle-Sears, Virginia State Senator Dave Marsden, Virginia State Senator Mark Peake and Louisa County Board of Supervisors Chair Duane Adams, among other local and state leaders.

Dominion also announced that it intends to seek "rider recovery" of SMR development costs in a filing with the Virginia State Corporation Commission expected later this year. This was enabled by bipartisan legislation passed by the Virginia General Assembly earlier this year. Governor Youngkin ceremonially signed the legislation at the event at North Anna.

The legislation contains cost caps limiting current SMR development cost recovery to no more than USD1.40 per month for a typical residential customer. Dominion anticipates that its initial request will be substantially below that limit.

"For over 50 years nuclear power has been the most reliable workhorse of Virginia's electric fleet, generating 40% of our power and with zero carbon emissions," said Robert Blue, chair, president and CEO 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."

Governor Youngkin added: "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. In alignment with our All-American, All-of-the-Above energy plan, small nuclear reactors will play a critical role in harnessing this potential and positioning Virginia to be a leading nuclear innovation hub."

The North Anna site is currently home to two 944 MWe pressurised water reactors, which began commercial operation in 1978 and 1980, respectively. Under their current licences, North Anna units 1 and 2 can continue to operate through 2038 and 2040, although Dominion has applied for 20-year extensions for both units.

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