• Nuclear powerWant Cheaper Nuclear Energy? Turn the Design Process into a Game

    By Kim Martineau

    Nuclear energy provides more carbon-free electricity in the United States than solar and wind combined, making it a key player in the fight against climate change. But the U.S. nuclear fleet is aging, and operators are under pressure to streamline their operations to compete with coal- and gas-fired plants. Researchers show that deep reinforcement learning can be used to design more efficient nuclear reactors.

  • Nuclear safetyNuclear Waste Storage Canisters to Be Tested

    Three 22.5-ton, 16.5-feet-long stainless-steel storage canisters, with heaters and instrumentation to simulate nuclear waste so researchers can study their durability, will be tested at Sandia National Lab. The three canisters have never contained any nuclear materials. They will be used to study how much salt gathers on canisters over time. Sandia will also study the potential for cracks caused by salt- and stress-induced corrosion with additional canisters that will be delivered during the next stage of the project.

  • Nuclear fuelNovel Chemical Process a First Step to Making Nuclear Fuel with Fire

    Uranium dioxide, a radioactive actinide oxide, is the most widely used nuclear fuel in today’s nuclear power plants. A new “combustion synthesis” process recently established for lanthanide metals—non-radioactive and positioned one row above actinides on the periodic table—could be a guide for the production of safe, sustainable nuclear fuels.

  • Nuclear securityStudents of Nuclear Security Have a Problem. Here’s How to Help Them.

    Radioactive materials are attractive targets to thieves and other bad actors. These are rare finds, valuable on the black market and relatively easy to weaponize. New security professionals rarely learn practical skills for protecting these targets until they are on the job at nuclear power plants, research reactors, processing plants and other nuclear facilities.

  • Nuclear powerStudy Identifies Reasons for Soaring Nuclear Plant Cost Overruns in the U.S.

    By David L. Chandler

    Analysis points to ways engineering strategies could be reimagined to minimize delays and other unanticipated expenses. Many analysts believe nuclear power will play an essential part in reducing global emissions of greenhouse gases, and finding ways to curb these rising costs could be an important step toward encouraging the construction of new plants.

  • Nuclear powerPutting Nuclear Reactors in Space

    A new agreement hopes to speed along a nuclear reactor technology that could be used to fuel deep-space exploration and possibly power human habitats on the Moon or Mars.

  • Mini reactorsMini Nuclear Reactor to Solve the E-Truck Recharging Dilemma

    Electric semitrucks sound like a great idea, leading to cleaner, carbon-free skies. But the largest cross-country 18-wheel truck needs five to 10 times more electricity than an electric car to recharge its battery. And these trucks often need to recharge far from high-power transmission lines. Where will that electricity come from? Engineers will tell you the answer is clear — microreactors.

  • China syndromeU.K. Nuclear Power: The Next Huawei?

    By Jo Harper

    London’s relations with China — hailed as entering a “golden era” only four years ago — have deteriorated badly over the coronavirus crisis and the Hong Kong issue, hitting a nadir when the U.K. finally bowed to U.S. pressure to ditch Huawei’s involvement in its new-generation internet (5G) rollout. China warned the U.K. it would face “consequences if it chooses to be a hostile partner” after London announced its Huawei’s decision. Nuclear power, once a key part of the U.K. energy plans, faces rising costs, cheaper renewables, and domestic opposition – but it also finds itself at the center of a row between London and Beijing that could prove fatal.

  • Nuclear threatsNuclear Threats Are Increasing – Here’s How the U.S. Should Prepare for a Nuclear Event

    By Cham Dallas

    On the 75th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, some may like to think the threat from nuclear weapons has receded. But there are clear signs of a growing nuclear arms race and that the U.S. is not very well-prepared for nuclear and radiological events. Despite the gloomy prospects of health outcomes of any large-scale nuclear event common in the minds of many, there are a number of concrete steps the U.S. and other countries can take to prepare. It’s our obligation to respond.

  • Nuclear accidentsTracking the Neural Network's Nuclear Clues

    Following the 2011 earthquake in Japan, a tsunami disabled the power supply and cooling in three Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant reactors. The reactors’ cores largely melted in the first 72 hours. The disaster helped inspire PNNL computational scientists looking for clues of future nuclear reactor mishaps by tracking radioactive iodine following a nuclear plant reactor breach.

  • Nuclear wasteReducing Radioactive Waste in Dismantle Nuclear Facilities

    On Monday, France announced it was shutting down the country’s oldest nuclear reactor – and that additional twelve aging reactors will be dismantled by 2035. Scientists have designed a methodology for dismantling nuclear facilities while limiting the amount of toxic nuclear waste generated in the process.

  • Nuclear powerFrance Shuts Down Its Oldest Nuclear Plant

    France gets 70 percent of its energy from nuclear reactors – it has 56 of them (only the United States, with 98, has more). Most of France’s nuclear reactors were built in the late 1960s and 1970s, and they are reaching – and in some cases, have exceeded — the 40-year limit on the safe operation of reactors. On Monday, France took offline its oldest nuclear reactor, and it will shut down 12 more by 2035.

  • Energy securityMicroreactors for Resilient Power in Puerto Rico

    Puerto Rico is home to 3.2 million American citizens, with all the energy needs of a modern economy. Most of the territory’s power, however, is generated by facilities dating from the 1960s, which is nearly thirty years older on average than mainland U.S. power plants. To meet the island’s energy demand without the need for more fossil fuels, one promising candidate is the use of microreactors.

  • Nuclear powerDigital Twins of Nuclear Reactors Could Bring Down Nuclear Energy Costs

    Safe and more affordable nuclear energy is the goal of a new project which brings together researchers who specialize in nuclear energy technology and computer science. Among other things, the project will develop virtual copies of nuclear reactors, enabling smarter maintenance for current reactors and more automation for advanced reactors.

  • Iran’s nukesU.S. Ending Sanctions Waivers on Iran's Civilian Nuclear Program

    The United States has announced it will end sanctions waivers that allow Russian, Chinese, and European firms to carry out civilian nuclear cooperation with Iran, effectively scrapping the last remnants of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, a move dismissed by Tehran as “desperate.”