Nuclear power

  • Alabama State launches Nuclear Academy

    A new academy at Alabama State University (ASU) will enhance security at nuclear, electric, and green-energy power installations across the United States and abroad. The new academy will provide comprehensive training for current and future security professionals who will offer infrastructure protection services to nuclear, electric and green-energy power installations.

  • Robust fourth-generation nuclear fuel withstands high-temperature accident conditions

    A safer and more efficient nuclear fuel is on the horizon. A team of researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory (INL) and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have reached a new milestone with tristructural-isotropic (TRISO) fuel, showing that this fourth-generation reactor fuel might be even more robust than previously thought.

  • U.S. nuclear power industry facing dire prospects

    The U.S. nuclear industry is facing several daunting challenges, with industry experts concluding that it may well be an energy source of the past. New construction of nuclear plants has come to a halt, older nuclear plants are closing, and plant expansions are put on hold. The main culprits: the price of natural gas is dropping fast because of new resources becoming available as a result of fracking, and wind and solar are making steady, if slow, gains.

  • Improving nuclear waste repositories

    How fast will iodine-129 released from spent nuclear fuel move through a deep, clay-based geological repository? Understanding this process is crucial. Countries worldwide consider underground clay formations for nuclear waste disposal because clay offers low permeability and high radionuclide retention. Even when a repository is not sited in clay, engineered barriers often include a compacted buffer of bentonite, a common type of clay, to improve waste isolation.

  • Children living close to nuclear power plants do not have higher risk of developing leukemia

    Young children who live near nuclear power plants do not have a greater risk of developing childhood leukemia or non-Hodgkin Lymphoma according to new research. Researchers conducted a study of almost 10,000 children under five years of age who were diagnosed with leukemia or similar cancers in Britain between 1962 and 2007. The scientists measured the distance from the nearest nuclear power plant both at birth and when diagnosed with childhood leukemia or non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and found that there was no apparent extra risk living near a nuclear power plant.

  • Shale gas threatens U.S. nuclear power industry

    The U.S. nuclear industry is facing a new enemy, and it is not anti-nuclear peacenicks. It is the shale gas boom, which on Tuesday claimed yet another victim when Entergy Corporation said it would close its Vermont Yankee reactor ahead of schedule. It is the fourth U.S nuclear plant to be closed this year, as utilities have concluded that investing in refurbishing older reactors is no longer economically viable.

  • Fukushima radioactive plume to reach U.S. next year

    The radioactive ocean plume from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear plant disaster will reach the shores of the United States within three years from the date of the incident, but is likely to be harmless, according to a new study. While atmospheric radiation was detected on the U.S. west coast within days of the incident, the radioactive particles in the ocean plume take considerably longer to travel the same distance.

  • New reactor design makes nuclear power competitive with natural gas

    San Diego-based General Atomics has applied for funding of several hundred millions from the U.S Department of Energy to commercialize a nuclear reactor which, the firm claims, could cut the cost of nuclear power by as much as 40 percent. The new design replaces water with helium as a coolant, allowing the plant to operate at higher temperatures, thus increasing the efficiency of the power plan and reducing the amount of waste needing storage.

  • Long-term radiation effects: Chernobyl’s lessons for Fukushima

    The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster spread significant radioactive contamination over more than 3,500 square miles of the Japanese mainland in the spring of 2011. Now several recently published studies of Chernobyl are bringing a new focus on just how extensive the long-term effects on Japanese wildlife might be.

  • U.S. nuclear reactors vulnerable to terrorist attack: study

    More than ten years after the 9/11 hijackers considered flying a fully loaded passenger jet into a Manhattan area nuclear reactor, U.S. commercial and research nuclear facilities remain inadequately protected against two credible terrorist threats — the theft of bomb-grade material to make a nuclear weapon, and sabotage attacks intended to cause a reactor meltdown. A new report finds that none of the 104 commercial nuclear power reactors in the United States is adequately protected — but among the most vulnerable are eleven reactors in California, Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Texas, and Virginia. One of these reactors, on the grounds of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), is among the three research reactors fueled with bomb-grade uranium, and is located in the Washington, D.C. suburb of Gaithersburg, less than twenty-five miles from the White House.

  • U.S. nuclear facilities vulnerable to terrorist attack: study

    Some U.S. nuclear facilities are inadequately protected against theft of weapons-grade materials and sabotage by terrorists. Terrorist attacks on vulnerable nuclear facilities could trigger a meltdown or lead to a diversion of bomb-grade uranium. The danger is far from hypothetical since the 9/11 hijackers are known to have considered flying a passenger jet into a U.S. nuclear reactor before they settled on the World Trade Center as their main terror target.

  • Virtual nuke control room helps nuclear operators, industry

    Modernizing nuclear power plants to help extend their operating lifetimes is no small task. The endeavor offers an opportunity to improve control-room design and layout. The Department of Energy’s new Human System Simulation Laboratory (HSSL) at Idaho National Laboratory (INL) is a full-scale virtual nuclear control room that can test the safety and reliability of proposed technology replacements before they are implemented in commercial nuclear control rooms. The facility is now helping Duke Energy embark on an upgrade project for several of its nuclear plant control rooms.

  • Mini-nuclear power plants may pull the nuclear industry out of a tight spot

    Supporters of nuclear powers argue that mini-nuclear power plants offer the best hope for a struggling industry. These plants produce less energy, but they cost less, will be faster to build, and have less potential for a disaster.

  • Nuclear academics, professionals meet for 6th annual ATR NSUF Users Week

    The sixth annual Advanced Test Reactor National Scientific User Facility (ATR NSUF) Users Week was held 10-14 June at University Place, the satellite campus for Idaho State University and University of Idaho in Idaho Falls. This nuclear research-themed week was the user facility’s opportunity to update the user community on nuclear energy issues and tools, conduct a research forum where users can come and present their research, run specialized workshops, and build collaboration among academic, industry and government institutions.

  • Japan to restart nuclear power plants

    Japan’s fifty nuclear power plants were taken off-line in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, but the government Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, which took office in December, said it was planning to restart Japan’s nuclear power generation program.