- NuScale Inks MOU for SMRs at Nucor Steel Mills
- Terrestrial Energy Awarded U.S. Department of Energy Grant for IMSR Licensing
- AECL, CNL and Global First Power to Build Micro Reactor at Chalk River site
- 16 Firms Including Mitsubishi Make $74M Bet on Fusion Power in Japan
- Westinghouse Submits AP300 SMR Regulatory Engagement Plan to NRC
- Great Lakes Clean Hydrogen Hub Coalition Submits Application for DOE Funding
- Italy / Parliament Votes In Favor Of Return To Nuclear Power
- EPRI, NEI Release Roadmap for Advanced Reactor Deployment
NuScale Inks MOU for SMRs at Nucor Steel Mills
NuScale Power Corporation (NYSE: SMR) and Nucor Corporation (NYSE: NUE) announced the two companies have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to explore co-locating NuScale’s VOYGR small modular nuclear reactor (SMR) power plants to provide clean, reliable baseload electricity to Nucor’s scrap-based Electric Arc Furnace (EAF) steel mills.
The companies will also explore an expanded manufacturing partnership through which Nucor, the largest steel producer and recycler of any type of steel material in North America, would supply Econiq, its net-zero steel products, for NuScale projects.
For instance, the plate steel originally designed for use in offshore wind energy projects, may find a new market for use in fabrication of some of the components for NuScale’s SMRs.
The significance of the company’s emphasis on the environmental angle for its net-zero steel products is that in October 2022 Nucor Corporation, Inc. signed off on a federal consent decree with EPA and DOJ agreeing to spend nearly $100 million to settle an environmental suit alleging that it failed to control the amount of pollution released from its steel factories in seven states. This is the largest and most comprehensive environmental settlement ever with a steel manufacturer.
Separately, the U.S. Department of Energy has identified emissions reductions in the steel manufacturing industry as an important step to reach net-zero by 2050.
The new agreement with Nucor strengthens NuScale’s partnership with the firm, which invested $15 million in NuScale in 2022, and highlights the growing global interest in SMRs among industrial leaders.
As part of the MOU between NuScale and Nucor, the companies will evaluate site suitability, transmission interconnection capabilities and capital costs for potential NuScale plants to be sited near and provide carbon free electricity to Nucor EAF steel mills. In addition, NuScale will study the feasibility of siting a manufacturing facility for NuScale Power Modules near a Nucor facility.
The use of NuScale SMRs to provide electricity to Nucor’s scrap-based Electric Arc Furnace (EAF) steel mills will potentially provide a second environmental benefit related to dealing with climate change. Depending on the steel mill(s) selected for NuScale SMRs, zero carbon electricity supplied by the nuclear reactors could replace electricity generated by fossil fuels resulting in significant reductions of CO2 emissions.
Nucor Steel Mill Locations. Map & Data: Nucor.
NuScale’s VOYGR power plants, which can be scaled in different plant configurations, up to 12 77 MWE SMRs, to produce up to 924 MWe of output,can be deployed for industrial applications as a reliable source of carbon-free energy.
“Nucor is committed to supporting the development of transformative technologies that will deploy safe, reliable, affordable, 24/7, base-load carbon free power, like NuScale’s VOYGR SMR plants,” said Leon Topalian, Chair, President and Chief Executive Officer of Nucor Corporation.
“Not only will Nucor’s partnership with NuScale help pave the way for a zero-carbon energy future for our nation, but we will be building this new generation with the cleanest steel products made anywhere in the world.”
Nucor stock closed on 5/15/23 at $140/share against a 52-week high of $182/share and a low of $$100/share. The firm has an estimated market capitalization of $35.3 billion.
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Terrestrial Energy Awarded U.S. Department of Energy Grant for IMSR Licensing
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded Terrestrial Energy USA a regulatory assistance grant to support the company’s U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) licensing program for the Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) plant, as part of the company’s strategy to secure a Standard Design Approval (SDA) under 10 CFR Part 52 in advance of commercial use.
“The industry funding opportunity vitally assists in reducing technical and economic challenges associated with current and future nuclear technologies,” said Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy Dr. Kathryn Huff.
“This final round of awards ($22M to ten firms) supports technological advancements to ensure nuclear energy keeps delivering emissions-free power for all Americans.”
The regulatory assistance grant to Terrestrial Energy is composed of $500,000 in DOE funds and a cost share by Terrestrial Energy of $226,482. According to an abstract of the scope of work, released by DOE, the objectives of this project are:
- Complete and submit to the NRC a select set of IMSR® prelicensing topical reports that are essential to
preparing an SDA application.
- Facilitate a timely and efficient NRC review of each topical report.
- Complete and submit revisions of each topical report incorporating feedback received from the NRC.
- Obtain from the NRC, a Safety Evaluation for each topical report.
- Initiate preparation of the SDA application for the Core-unit of the IMSR.
According to the abstract, successful completion of the project objectives will enable TEUSA to advance the development of its license application for an IMSR® Core-unit SDA. Additionally, it will provide the
advanced reactor industry, including advanced SMR and microreactor design vendors, with a prelicensing framework
for a phased licensing approach. It will have the benefit of supporting the NRC’s efforts to develop a comprehensive regulatory framework for
licensing non-LWR designs, and 4) provide valuable review opportunities for the NRC staff to exercise its review
CNSC & NRC Progress
In April 2023, Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) concluded, following a systematic and multi-year review against Canadian regulatory requirements, that there were no fundamental barriers to licensing the IMSR plant for Canadian commercial use. This was the first regulatory review of a nuclear plant using molten salt reactor technology and the first advanced, high-temperature fission technology to complete a review of this type.
Its successful completion supports Terrestrial Energy’s engagement with the NRC and enables future collaboration between the U.S. and Canadian nuclear regulatory agencies.
In June 2022, the NRC and the CNSC completed a joint technical review of IMSR as part of the 2019 inter-agency Memorandum of Cooperation to accelerate the licensing of Generation IV nuclear plants for commercial use. The agreement’s collaborative technical reviews aim to increase regulatory effectiveness as well as reaffirm the agencies’ commitment to safety and security.
“The Department of Energy’s support for our IMSR licensing program with the NRC is well timed. It follows the successful completion last month of an extensive multi-year review of the IMSR plant design against Canadian regulatory standards. The experiences and engineering capabilities we developed over that extensive regulatory engagement are consequential to our business,” said Simon Irish, CEO of Terrestrial Energy. “This DOE regulatory assistance grant helps accelerate our NRC licensing activities.”
Low Enriched Fuel is a Competitive Advantage
The IMSR plant is designed to use standard assay Low Enriched Uranium (LEU) civilian nuclear fuel, enriched to less than 5 percent, thereby avoiding the need for High Assay LEU (HALEU) fuel. This assures a stable supply of fuel essential for a fleet of IMSR plants operating in the 2030s and increases the IMSR’s international regulatory acceptance. Terrestrial Energy is developing its fuel supply program with Springfields Fuel (Westinghouse) in the UK and Orano in France.
The DOE grant to the firm is part of a series of projects that are funded through the Office of Nuclear Energy’s industry funding opportunity announcement (iFOA). Since 2018, the iFOA has invested more than $230 million into 48 projects from 31 different companies across 18 states. To date, 28 of the selected projects have successfully been completed. This is the final round of awards DOE will make through this funding opportunity.
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AECL, CNL and Global First Power to Build Micro Reactor at Chalk River site
Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) and Global First Power (GFP) are announce that GFP has selected a location at the Chalk River Laboratories to site its proposed Micro-Modular Reactor (MMR) project. (Technical details)
GFP is proposing to construct and operate a 15 MWt/5 MWe MMR plant at the Chalk River campus that would serve as a model for future small modular reactor (SMR) deployments to support remote and industrial applications.
The demonstration reactor technology, developed by Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC), is designed to provide a clean energy solution to displace fossil fuel use and support Canada’s climate change targets. The energy output of the MMR makes it well suited for application in off-grid remote communities and industrial sites.
The site of the proposed MMR demonstration reactor is currently a CNL staff parking lot that will be repurposed to accommodate the new facility. By selecting this location, GFP will have good access to campus utilities and to CNL’s many technical and operational support services.
The nearby site also has the potential to benefit CNL once the reactor is operational, who may be able to leverage the energy that is produced by the reactor in order to better operate the campus and conduct related research activities.
GFP’s proposal is also subject to regulatory processes and requirements, which are independent of CNL’s rigorous review and evaluation process. GFP has submitted an application for a License to Prepare Site to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) and an environmental assessment for the project is underway.
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16 Firms Including Mitsubishi Make $74M Bet on Fusion Power in Japan
A consortium of public- and private-sector groups in Japan will invest in a startup working to commercialize fusion power. Sixteen companies, including Mitsubishi Corp., Kansai Electric Power Co., and a government-affiliated fund will invest 10 billion yen ($73.6 million) in the startup begun at Kyoto University. The investment support fusion work by Tokyo-based Kyoto Fusioneering.
In addition, Mitsui & Co., J-Power, Inpex and 10 other companies, including MUFG Bank and JIC Venture Growth Investments, a government-affiliated fund, have subscribed to the startup’s private share placement.
The startup will use the funds raised to establish technology enabling stable operation of a fusion reactor. In 2024, a small-scale experimental fusion reactor plant will be built in Japan to determine whether gyrotrons and other devices can perform over extended periods. The company will also hire an additional engineers, brining the total to 300 technical staff.
The investment will be used to accelerate the development of fusion power. The all-Japanese consortium seeks to compete globally for market share.
Kyoto Fusioneering Plant Concept: Image: Kyoto Fusion
Competition is in the private sector. According to a July 2022 report by the U.S. Fusion Industry Association, there are now more than 30 fusion-related companies worldwide, with funding totaling more than $4.8 billion raised in 2022.
Kyoto Gyrotron System Concept: Image: Kyoto Fusion
Kyoto Fusioneering employs advanced plasma-heating equipment called gyrotrons (plasma heating system). These are key components for creating nuclear fusion reactions and the company is a world leader in their development. Its technological sophistication has won the company an order from the U.K. Atomic Energy Authority.
The first project will involve the development of a ‘fusion-grade’ silicon carbide composite system (SiC/SiC), suitable for use as a structural material inside a fusion machine and to understand its stability under simulated fusion conditions.
The use of SiC/SiC composites within the breeder blanket of a fusion machine will increase the efficiency and commercial viability of fusion power stations by providing a material that operates at high-temperatures and is resistant to neutron damage. The Self-Cooled Yuryo Lithium Lead Advanced (SCYLLA) blanket developed by KF is compatible with the lithium-lead based coolant and fuel breeding fluids. Novel materials enable compatibility with the corrosive lithium lead.
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Westinghouse Submits AP300 SMR Regulatory Engagement Plan to NRC
- Key Document Outlines Path Forward Toward Design Certification
(NucNet contributed to this report) Following up on its release of news May 4th of a design of a 300 MW SMR using LWR engineering principles based on the full size AP1000, Westinghouse Electric Company announced the submission of its pre-application Regulatory Engagement Plan to the NRC for the new reactor. (ML23124A015)
The engagement plan outlines the pre-application activities Westinghouse will have with NRC staff to support the AP300 SMR licensing. It documents the basic design philosophy of the AP300 technology, an overview of the proposed licensing approach, and a timeline for the planned pre-application interactions between the NRC and Westinghouse, with the goal of soliciting NRC feedback on noteworthy topics.
Westinghouse has launched what it calls a “game-changer” AP300 small modular reactor, a scaled-down version of its AP1000 reactor, with a goal for the first one to deliver power to the grid within a decade. (WNN)
The firm asserts that it will complete licensing of the AP300 by the end of 2027 and be ready to offer it to customer of a cost of about $1 billion per unit. It is unclear how mature the design of the reactor is so far.
However, given the 42 month NRC process for completing the review of a new reactor, a 2027 completion date suggests the firm would need to submit its formal application to the agency by mid-2024. Westinghouse has said in media statements that since the AP300 is based on the design of the AP1000 that licensing will go smoothly. So far, according to an ADAMS search in the NRC library, only the regulatory engagement plan has been filed with the agency.
Assuming the firm meets its self-imposed time to market milestone, some customers placing their first orders for single units may have in mind multi-unit power stations using the SMR.
As prudent investors, these customer will likely want to see the actual cost of building the reactors and have operational data that they can be operated at a profit before placing orders for second or third units.
“Basing the AP300 SMR on an Nth-of-a-kind operating reactor is a key differentiator for our SMR technology, and the work we are undertaking with the NRC should minimize regulatory complexity and create a timely and efficient path for the licensing of the AP300 SMR design,” said David Durham, Energy Systems President for Westinghouse.
Durham added that basing the AP300 SMR on an nth-of-a-kind operating reactor is a key differentiator. He said the work Westinghouse undertaking with the NRC should minimize regulatory complexity and create an efficient path for the licensing of the AP300 SMR design.
There are four Westinghouse AP1000 units in commercial operation, two at Sanmen in China and two at Haiyang in China, with six more under construction in China. Two are nearing commercial operation at Vogtle in the US state of Georgia.
Westinghouse’s Generation III+ advanced technology has regulatory approval in the US, Great Britain and China, and compliance with European Utility Requirements (EUR) standards for nuclear power plants. Durham said that these approvals will speed up acceptance of the reactor in global markets.
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Great Lakes Clean Hydrogen Hub Coalition Submits Application for DOE Funding
The Great Lakes Clean Hydrogen Hub coalition (GLCH) has submitted an application for federal funding from the $8 billion U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) program to support the creation of regional clean hydrogen hubs under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
GLCH’s full application details a $2 billion plan to create a clean hydrogen hub to serve Ohio, Michigan, and portions of Pennsylvania and Indiana. The proposed hub will use carbon-free nuclear power to produce clean hydrogen at a competitive cost. It contains a target of achieving full production of 100+ metric tonnes of hydrogen per day.
Markets for Hydrogen from Nuclear Energy. Image: DOE
By creating a supply of clean hydrogen, GLCH aims to help major industries across the Midwest to decarbonize. It will also serve the hydrogen needs of the growing mobility market (including trucking, transit buses, rail, aviation, and marine) as it transitions to a zero-emission future. The hub is expected to benefit local communities through stakeholder engagement, job creation, and workforce partnerships and investments, particularly in disadvantaged communities.
GLCH is led by Linde (NYSE: LIN), as the prime applicant, and includes Energy Harbor, Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. (NYSE: CLF), GE Aerospace, the University of Toledo, and the Glass Manufacturing Industry Council.
GLCH includes diverse companies with “shovel-ready” opportunities to replace fossil fuels with clean hydrogen. It has been actively working with the states of Ohio and Michigan, technology suppliers, hydrogen consumers, state and regional academic institutions, national laboratories, and nonprofit organizations.
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Italy / Parliament Votes In Favor Of Return To Nuclear Power
(NucNet) The Italian parliament has backed the government’s plan to include nuclear in the country’s energy mix as part of its decarbonization efforts after the country abandoned its nuclear program nearly four decades ago.
In a press statement the Italian energy ministry said, “We will now discuss with our European partners and evaluate how to include it in the national energy mix of the next decades with the aim of achieving, also with the help of nuclear power, the decarbonization objectives set by the European Union.”
The motion passed in the Italian parliament calls on the country’s center-right ruling coalition, led by prime minister Giorgia Meloni, to examine nuclear energy as part of the national energy mix. It says Italy could have a nuclear capacity of 35 GW from seven plants by 2050.
The motion did not commit to a financial plan to pay for the reactors. The ambitious plan could involve as many as ten 3.3 GWe dual 1,650 MWe EPR PWR type reactors. The astronomical cost, at $6,000/Kw, would be about $10 billion per reactor or $100 billion for the entire fleet. Assuming the country built the fleet over a 20-to-30 year year period, it could spread the cost of investing in nuclear power at a rate of $5 billion a year.
Could the country afford a two-to-three decade long new build at a cost of $100 billion? The world’s eighth-largest GDP belongs to Italy. It is also the eurozone’s third-largest economy. (World Bank data)
A key problem would be upfront development of a supply chain that could sustain that level of construction as well as recruitment of the necessary skilled workforce to build the reactor fleet at the this scale.
Italy would also have to re-establish the government’s ability to license and conduct safety oversight of the construction and eventual operation of the reactors.
While the government said it was open to “European and international” initiatives, France’s EDF will push hard to re-establish itself as the preferred vendor for the new build.
The government said it will also consider Generation IV small modular reactors and examine incentives for research into nuclear fission reactors.
Since she took office late last year, Italian PM Meloni has openly supported the reactivation of the country’s long-shuttered nuclear power plants.
A key element of the legislative measure is that nuclear utilities would be guaranteed the sale of all their production through auctions and contracts dedicated to low-carbon technologies, with consequent reductions of financial costs and some degree of certainty regarding rates of return.
A Pioneering Nuclear History
Italy was a pioneer of nuclear power and had four commercial nuclear plants – Caorso, Enrico Fermi, Garigliano and Latina – providing almost 5% of the country’s electricity production share at their peak in 1986-1987.
Italy shut down the last of the plants, Caorso and Enrico Fermi, in July 1990 following a referendum in the wake of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.
In January the Italian Nuclear Association said Italy needs to develop a national energy policy that includes restarting its nuclear power program as it seeks to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and imports from Russia.
Roberto Adinolfi, president of Italy-based nuclear technology company Ansaldo Nucleare, said that despite Italy having no operating nuclear power plants since 1990, “the Italian nuclear supply chain is among the most important in Europe, it is highly competitive and it’s taking part in several European and international projects.”
Luca Oriani, senior vice-president of engineering services at Westinghouse said several critical components and safety systems for nuclear power stations are produced and assembled in Italy, including those for Westinghouse’s AP1000 plants.
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EPRI, NEI Release Roadmap for Advanced Reactor Deployment
EPRI and the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) jointly released the first phase of their Advanced Reactor Roadmap at the Nuclear Energy Assembly. The roadmap outlines an achievable path for the successful deployment of advanced reactors as part of the clean energy transition. (full report)
Advanced nuclear reactors encompass several designs and have the capability to deliver affordable, reliable, and resilient, power from a zero-carbon emissions energy source.
The roadmap comprises three sections:
- Outlining a recommended approach to help the nuclear industry fully realize the potential value of advanced reactors
- Discussing seven enablers for large-scale deployment of advanced reactor technologies, including conditions related to policy, regulatory, and public acceptance
- Establishing ownership and implementation targets for 45 key actions necessary for delivering advanced reactors into the market; the actions address strategic priorities, including licensing, fuel cycle, supply chain, construction, operation, and workforce development.
Specific actions outlined in the roadmap include engaging with governments to ensure a stable supply of enriched fuel; providing recommendations to enable more timely and efficient reviews and approvals of advanced reactors by U.S. and Canadian regulators; developing specific programs to create a skilled labor workforce for both existing and new reactors; and ensuring the industry is prepared to execute the first deployment projects.
Multiple stakeholders were engaged in developing the roadmap to ensure it reflected various perspectives, including advanced reactor developers, suppliers, utilities, the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations, NGOs and national laboratories. An industry steering group composed of industry leaders will be formed to assess the status of action items from the roadmap and ensure their completion.
The roadmap’s first phase is focused on North America, and additional phases will be focused on other global regions.
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