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The Next Big Thing in Nuclear Power: Think Smaller & Safer
Dr. Everett RedmondThe following is a guest post by Dr. Everett Redmond, NEI's Senior Director, Policy Development.There’s a lot to like about the small modular reactor design that NuScale Power submitted yesterday to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Most often people talk about the ability to build such reactors in a factory and ship them by truck or rail, in nearly-finished form, to where they are needed, and to add generating capacity to a plant in modest increments, as demand grows. But it’s easy to overlook another strength of the NuScale design: one of its intrinsic features is a simple way to enhance the safety of the reactor fuel.There’s a fancy name for this feature: a high surface-to-volume ratio. In plain English, as a container gets smaller, its surface area gets larger relative to its volume, a phenomenon obvious to anyone who cooks. Take a hardboiled egg out of the pot of boiling water and put it into a bowl of cold water, and the egg cools very quickly. It do

NuScale files US’ first SMR license application as suppliers await tender
NuScale is to formally deliver a complete Design Certification Application (DCA) to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on January 12, becoming the first SMR developer to enter the full licence review process. NuScale’s Integral Pressurized Water Reactor (IPWR) is based on light water reactor technology and the first plant of 600 MW will be delivered to Power cooperative Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) on a site within the U.S. Department of Energy's Idaho National Laboratory (INL). The plant is expected to be fully operational by 2026.Related Content: Westinghouse targets first SMR within a decade using '100% modularity'Idaho government predicts economic boom from first SMRRolls-Royce plans UK funding surge upon SMR design approvalTerrestrial CEO: Plant costs of $40-$50/MWh set to displace fossil fuelsImage: Image Caption: NuScale simulator screens in August 2015. (Image credit: NuScale)Channels: New BuildSmall Modular ReactorsSupply Chain

With Nuclear Plants Closing, Fears Grow for Stability of New England’s Electric Grid
We can’t really say it snuck up on us, but New England’s electricity infrastructure is already prone to supply interruptions and price spikes, and getting more so. And so far the steps to counter the problem have been very limited.There’s a new warning from the non-profit company that operates the six-state grid, the Independent System Operator – New England (ISO-NE). One easy work-around – building gas plants that can run on oil in a pinch – is getting harder to use, because of air pollution rules, according to the head of the organization, Gordon van Welie, president and chief executive. His warning came in ISO-NE’s annual update on the state of the region’s electric grid.The result is a loss of energy diversity that threatens the stability of supply and price, according to van Welie, who spoke to reporters on Jan. 30. Among the elements in this unhealthy trend are the premature closings of two nuclear reactors, Vermont Yankee, in December, 2014, and Pilgrim, in Plymo

Toshiba to unveil giant payout Feb 14; US sends nuclear trade negociators to Mexico
Toshiba mulls asset actions ahead of multi-billion dollar payout Toshiba Corp. is to reveal February 14 the size of a goodwill payment it must pay following Westinghouse's acquisition of nuclear construction and integrated services company CB&I Stone & Webster (S&W), contractor on Westinghouse's four US AP1000 construction projects, the company said January 24.Related Content: US AP1000 projects advance on revamped EPC termsNuScale files US’ first SMR license application as suppliers await tenderUS utilities join forces with SMR vendors to speed developmentImage: Image Caption: Toshiba is considering measures to secure its finances. (Image credit: Naypong)Channels: Waste ManagementNew BuildSmall Modular ReactorsSupply Chain

Westinghouse 3D printing trials reveal cost savings for all reactor types
The U.S. Department of Energy awarded Westinghouse $8 million in July 2016 towards a five-year research and development program to advance innovative technologies. The research aims to improve the commercial viability of nuclear components manufactured through AM (3D printing) technology. Tests have already shown binder jetting AM has cut manufacturing costs by up to 50% and lead times by up to 75% when used to produce casting molds for replacement motor parts on operational plants, Armstrong told Nuclear Energy Insider in an interview.Related Content: 3D printers could slash SMR lead times from years to monthsWestinghouse targets first SMR within a decade using '100% modularity'Nuclear engineers apply 3D printing to cut cost of parts replacement Image: Image Caption: A fuel grid made by additive manufacturing. (Image credit: Westinghouse)Channels: Operations & MaintenanceSmall Modular ReactorsSupply Chain

How Nanomaterials Can Make Nuclear Reactors Safer and More Efficient
The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior communications advisor at NEI. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattLWald.From the batteries in our cell phones to the clothes on our backs, "nanomaterials" that are designed molecule by molecule are working their way into our economy and our lives. Now there’s some promising work on new materials for nuclear reactors. Reactors are a tough environment. The sub atomic particles that sustain the chain reaction, neutrons, are great for splitting additional uranium atoms, but not all of them hit a uranium atom; some of them end up in various metal components of the reactor. The metal is usually a crystalline structure, meaning it is as orderly as a ladder or a sheet of graph paper, but the neutrons rearrange the atoms, leaving some infinitesimal voids in the structure and some areas of extra density. The components literally grow, getting longer and thicker. The phenomenon is well understood and designers compensate for it with a variety of

Why Buy A Shutdown Nuclear Plant? The Answer Might Surprise You
Today, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) held a public meeting to consider the latest development in what has become a growing trend in the nuclear power industry – accelerating decommissioning by transferring licenses to third parties after a plant shuts down. The topic of today’s NRC meeting was to provide an overview of Entergy’s plan to sell and transfer the NRC licenses for the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station – which permanently ceased operations at the end of 2014 – to NorthStar Group Services, Inc., a company that specializes in nuclear decommissioning and environmental remediation. This meeting began the process by which the companies seek NRC approval of the transaction.Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power StationWhy would anyone want to buy a nuclear plant? Because they can decommission it faster, with more certainty in schedule and costs,that’s why. In the nuclear decommissioning business, time is literally money. NRC regulations allow up to 60 years for compl

OECD expands decommissioning cost benchmarks ahead of closure surge
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) data show close to 150 reactors have ceased operating and up to 200 additional reactors are set to go offline in the next two decades. Most of these plants are in Europe, which has an aging fleet and where changes to government energy policy, higher safety requirements and wholesale price pressures have prompted a spate of early closures.Related Content: UK uses multiple site data to save over 1 billion pounds on decomOperators told to plan shutdowns three years ahead, focus on laborUS utility’s deferred reactor clean-up shows cost pressure on early closuresImage: Image Caption: Dismantling elements of the primary pump at a reactor in Spain. (Image credit: ENRESA)Channels: Decommisioning

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