President Donald Trump has signed an executive order that directs NASA to prepare a report within 180 days outlining its requirements for the utilization of nuclear energy systems for space exploration. The order also directs the Department of Energy to complete development of high-assay low-enriched uranium production technology as a potential fuel for space-based nuclear power systems.
Chalk River Laboratories in Canada has completed a four-year project to repatriate highly enriched uranium target residue material to the Department of Energy's Savannah River Site in South Carolina, for processing under the 1996 US-Origin Foreign Research Reactor Spent Nuclear Fuel Acceptance Program. "The TRM HEU was unique in that it was received already dissolved and in liquid form," says SRNS TRM program manager Bill Giddings.
The Department of Energy plans to determine if radioactive waste equipment used at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina can be reclassified as less-dangerous, which would open the door for disposal at commercial sites in Texas or Utah. No date has been set for completion of the review.
The Department of Energy has added $47 million in funding for seven projects under the Seeding Critical Advances for Leading Energy technologies with Untapped Potential program, which helps Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy technology projects go from the lab to commercial development. ARPA-E Director Lane Genatowski says the SCALEUP program addresses "the challenge that so many early-stage energy concepts face in scaling and will help awardees to bridge the dreaded 'Valley of Death' and continue on the path of commercialization."
Computational models that researchers hope will halve the turbulence experienced in stellarator hydrogen plasmas are being developed at Germany's Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics. The researchers say the Gyrokinetic Electromagnetic Numerical Experiment will help them understand the "turbulent transport" of particles and heat out of the plasma, which can reduce the thermal insulation of the plasma confined in a magnetic field.
France's Framatome expects to finalize the acquisition of the nuclear and process automation arm of Hungary's Evopro in the first quarter of 2021. Framatome executive Frederic Lelievre says the move will allow the company "to expand our presence in Central Europe as major [instrumentation and control] projects, such as those at the Paks Nuclear Power Plant."
The Global Energy Talent Index survey by Airswift and Energy Jobline found that 60% of nuclear industry workers are confident the industry is resilient and stable enough to survive the COVID-19 pandemic. Energy Jobline director Josh Young says building on that stability now with training opportunities will help "convince others that putting their roots down in nuclear is the best way to grow a blossoming career."
Georgia Power says that due to a work slowdown from COVID-19 cases, it will likely have to push back the start of hot functional testing and fuel loading at the Vogtle-3 nuclear power plant expansion project. The hot functional testing was supposed to start this month.
The Department of Energy's Office of Nuclear Energy has released a 36-page plan for supporting new nuclear technologies and currently operating nuclear reactors. The Strategic Vision report sets five goals to help the department meet the challenges facing nuclear energy development.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission Reactor Regulation program director Ho Nieh plans to retire on Jan. 30. An NRC spokesman said Nieh, who joined the NRC in 1997, was leaving for "personal reasons."