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Press Release
News Media Contact: Tim Jackson (208) 526-8484

For Immediate Release: Oct 31, 2018


DOE invites public comment on Draft Environmental Assessment for the use of DOE-owned High Assay Low-Enriched Uranium Stored at INL

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) invites the public to review and comment on a draft environmental assessment for a proposal to fabricate fuel at Idaho National Laboratory's Materials and Fuels Complex (MFC) and/or the Idaho Nuclear Technology and Engineering Center (INTEC) to support efforts by U.S. companies to develop and deploy new reactor technologies.

Under requirements of an Environmental Impact Statement performed in 2000, DOE uses an electrorefiner at MFC to refine and down-blend spent fuel that contains highly-enriched uranium material generated decades ago in the Experimental Breeder Reactor-II (EBR-II). This produces high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) that is currently stored at the INL. DOE proposes expanding capabilities at MFC and INTEC to convert this metallic HALEU into fuel for research and development purposes. HALEU contains a higher enrichment (by percentage) of uranium-235 -- a fissile isotope in nuclear fuel that produces energy -- than fuel used in the current fleet of U.S. power reactors. Conventional light water reactors (LWRs) use low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel, (3 to 5 percent uranium-235) while HALEU contains between 5 and 20 percent.

Currently, there are no commercial facilities in the U.S. immediately capable of producing HALEU, and several advanced reactor designers have expressed interest in using HALEU fuel with their designs to achieve higher efficiencies and longer core lifetimes.

"There are several U.S. companies pursuing advanced reactor designs that would use fuel enriched with higher levels of uranium-235, and need a source so they can conduct the research and development needed to bring these new technologies to market," DOE Deputy Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Technology Research and Development John Herczeg said. "Being able to provide a source of this fuel would support this research and development and aligns with the Office of Nuclear Energy's mission to advance nuclear power as a resource capable of meeting the nation's energy, environmental and national security needs."

The draft environmental assessment prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act is posted for public review at: Draft Environmental Assessment for the Use of DOE-Owned High Assay Low-Enriched Uranium Stored at INL(DOE/EA-2087).

The federal government proposes fabricating approximately 10 metric tons of HALEU nuclear reactor fuel, to support near-term research, development and demonstration needs of private-sector developers and government agencies, including advanced reactor developers. The preferred action identified in the Environmental Assessment calls for establishing the capability at INL to fabricate HALEU ceramic and metallic fuels from the HALEU produced through the electrometallurgical treatment system currently operating at INL, and by using other small quantities of HALEU stored at INL. Most of the HALEU to be used for fuel fabrication results from the processing and treatment of used fuel from the now-decommissioned EBR-II reactor.

The 30-day public comment period on the draft environmental assessment will conclude on November 30, 2018. Comments can be submitted by mail to David Herrin, 1955 Fremont Ave., 83415-1222 or by email to haleu@id.doe.gov. Paper copies of the document are available on request.



 

For Immediate Release Date: October 25, 2018
News Media Contact: Erik Simpson (208) 390-9464


Investigation into Cause of April 11 Drum Event at INL Site Concludes

Idaho Falls, ID. - Fluor Idaho LLC, cleanup contractor at the Department of Energy's Idaho National Laboratory Site, recently completed an investigation into the cause of an April 11 event where four radioactive waste drums experienced excessive pressure and ejected their lids and contents following transuranic waste processing and repackaging. There were no injuries or release of radioactive materials to the environment during the incident. DOE provided oversight of all stages of the investigation.

Based on more than five months of analysis and testing of actual waste material by two independent laboratories, an investigation team has concluded the drum breach incident was caused by a reactive metal with radionuclides heating up after coming into contact with air for the first time in nearly 40 years. This heating up of the reactive metal started a secondary reaction that caused a rapid rise in pressure inside each drum, resulting in the ejection of their lids.

The April 11 event happened at the Radioactive Waste Management Complex’s Accelerated Retrieval Project V facility which, since 2012, had safely processed and compliantly repackaged approximately 9,500 drums of sludge-contaminated waste that originated at the former Rocky Flats Plant near Denver, Colorado. Cleanup inside of the ARP V enclosure continues. Crews wearing appropriate personnel protective equipment continue to clean the interior of the facility.

The April 11 event has prompted changes across the Accelerated Retrieval Project. Fluor Idaho revised the waste exhumation and repackaging process with additional controls to mitigate the risk of a similar event. The controls include raking and 24-hour thermal monitoring of sludge waste prior to repackaging. There have been no further incidents. Fluor Idaho and DOE-ID continue to identify and implement additional corrective actions, based on the investigation results, to reinforce safety culture and bolster oversight of waste processes.

The Accelerated Retrieval Project V Causal Analysis report is available at: ARP V Drum Investigation Report.pdf.

Fluor Idaho, LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Fluor Corporation with subcontractor partners comprised of CH2M, North Wind Inc., Portage, and Waste Control Specialists. Fluor Idaho manages the Idaho Cleanup Project Core contract at the Department of Energy’s Idaho Site located 45 miles west of Idaho Falls. The 5-year, $1.4 billion project, funded through the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management, focuses on early risk reduction and protection of the Snake River Plain Aquifer.

For more information visit the Idaho Cleanup Project on the Web at https://fluor-idaho.com



 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 26, 2018

DOE APPLAUDS VOGTLE DECISION

The Department of Energy (DOE) is pleased with today’s vote to proceed with the construction of Vogtle 3&4. This historic project will be the first large scale nuclear utility project completed in the United States in over 30 years and will reaffirm America’s international leadership in nuclear technology and provide a reliable, clean power source for decades to come. DOE hopes the successful completion of this project will mark the beginning of a nuclear renaissance in America.

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Press Release
News Media Contact: (202) 586-4940
For Immediate Release: July 10, 2018


U.S. Department of Energy Provides Nearly $20 Million for Domestic Advanced Nuclear Technology Projects

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry today announced today the Department of Energy (DOE) has selected nine domestic projects to receive nearly $20 million in funding for cost-shared research and development for advanced nuclear technologies. These awards are through the Office of Nuclear Energy’s (NE) funding opportunity announcement (FOA) U.S. Industry Opportunities for Advanced Nuclear Technology Development and are the second group selected under this solicitation. The first group was announced on April 27, 2018.

Subsequent quarterly application review and selection processes will be conducted over the next five years. The Department intends to apply approximately $30 million of additional FY 2018 funding to the next quarterly award cycle for innovative proposals under this FOA.

These activities are important because they support various aspects of existing and advanced reactor development, and they establish domestic capabilities for safer, more efficient, clean baseload energy that will support the U.S. economy and energy independence.

“DOE is investing in advanced nuclear technologies, because we are looking to the future. Nuclear energy is a critical part of our all-of-the-above energy strategy for the country, and early-stage research can help ensure it will continue to be a clean, reliable, and resilient source of electricity,” said Secretary Perry.

These awards are examples of the private-public partnerships needed to help successfully develop innovative domestic nuclear technologies. The projects will allow industry-led teams, which include participants from federal agencies, public and private laboratories, institutions of higher education, and other domestic entities, to advance the state of U.S. commercial nuclear capability. The solicitation is broken into three funding pathways:

1. First-of-a-Kind (FOAK) Nuclear Demonstration Readiness Project pathway, intended to address major advanced reactor design development projects or complex technology advancements for existing plants which have significant technical and licensing risk and have the potential to be deployed by the mid-to-late 2020s.

2. Advanced Reactor Development Projects pathway, which allows a broad scope of proposed concepts and ideas that are best suited to improving the capabilities and commercialization potential of advanced reactor designs and technologies.

3. Regulatory Assistance Grants pathway, which provide direct support for resolving design regulatory issues, regulatory review of licensing topical reports or papers, and other efforts focused on obtaining certification and licensing approvals for advanced reactor designs and capabilities.

DOE is also announcing voucher awards selected under the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) initiative. All awards selected under this FOA and the GAIN Voucher Request for Assistance (RFA) will be funded under existing NE programs.

The following project was selected under the FOAK Nuclear Demonstration Readiness Project pathway:

  • Calendar Year 2018 Activities for Phase 2 of NuScale Small Modular Reactor project – NuScale Power (Corvallis, OR) will build on Phase 1 project activities to advance the licensing and design maturity to meet a commercial operation date of 2026 for the first NuScale plant. The specific project scope being funded represents calendar year 2018 activities associated with the next phase (Phase 2) of the U.S. product realization effort required to bring the NuScale design to market. Specific project activities include completion of the independent verification and validation licensing report; completion of the reactor building design optimization; and conduct of level sensor prototypic testing. There is potential for extension of this award to complete calendar year 2019 activities associated with Phase II of the NuScale project if the 2018 activities are completed successfully. DOE Funding: $7,000,000; Non-DOE: $7,100,000; Total Value: $14,100,000

The following five projects were selected under the Advanced Reactor Development Projects pathway:

  • Conceptual Engineering for a Small Modular Reactor Power Plant Based on Lead-Bismuth Fast Reactor (LBFR) Technology – This work proposed by Columbia Basin Consulting Group (Kennewick, WA) aims to develop a pre-conceptual design and preliminary cost estimate for a lead-bismuth small modular reactor. DOE Funding: $400,000; Non-DOE: $100,000; Total: $500,000
  • Reactor Plant Cost Reduction to Compete with Natural Gas Fired Electrical Generation – Under this proposal, GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy (Wilmington, NC) will examine ways to reduce reactor plant construction and maintenance costs on their BWRX-300 small light water reactor concept through (a) elimination of Loss of Coolant Accidents (LOCAs), (b) the use of an embedded (below grade) design and construction and (c) the use of pooled off-site resources that can be applied simultaneously at multiple sites. DOE Funding: $1,925,038; Non-DOE: $481,260; Total Value: $2,406,298
  • Experimental Verification of Post-Accident Integrated Pressurized Water Reactor (iPWR) Aerosol Behavior, Phase 3 – The Electric Power Research Institute (Palo Alto, CA) will further improve the models used to estimate the post-accident radionuclide releases from integral pressurized water reactors (iPWRs) with a goal of reducing regulatory requirements for emergency planning zones. DOE Funding: $1,119,699; Non-DOE: $279,923; Total Value: $1,399,622
  • Fluorination of Lithium Fluoride-Beryllium Fluoride (FLiBe) Molten Salt Processing – Flibe Energy (Huntsville, AL) has teamed with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (Richland, WA) to examine the use of nitrogen trifluoride as an agent to remove uranium from a molten-salt fuel mixture as a preliminary step for the removal of fission products. DOE Funding: $2,101,982; Non-DOE: $525,500; Total Value: $2,627,482
  • Advancing and Commercializing Hybrid Laser Arc Welding (HLAW) for Nuclear Vessel Fabrication, Including Small Modular Reactors – Holtec International (Camden, NJ) will advance hybrid laser arc welding for use in fabrication of small modular reactors and other nuclear components to achieve improvements in the reliability, quality and cost associated with traditional multi-pass welding. DOE Funding: $6,314,612; Non-DOE: $6,314,612; Total Value: $12,629,224

The following project was selected under the Regulatory Assistance Grant pathway:

  • Regulatory Support for Advanced Light Water Reactor Deployment: Advanced Boiling Water Reactor Source Term Reduction – Pittsburgh Technical LLC, (Pittsburg, PA) will develop a technical basis to reduce source terms associated with Level II and Level III probabilistic risk assessment for advanced boiling water reactor designs. DOE Funding: $498,000; Non-DOE: $124,500; Total Value: $622,500

Finally, DOE has selected two companies to receive GAIN technology development vouchers in this second review cycle. The companies selected are Yellowstone Energy (Knoxville, TN) in the amount of $160,000, and ThorCon US (Stevenson, WA) in the amount of $400,000. Further detail and description of these awards can be found under the GAIN website.

NE funds research, development, and demonstration projects to reduce the risk and cost of advanced nuclear technologies, and to improve nuclear energy’s contribution to meeting the nation’s economic, energy security, and environmental challenges. More information on the Office of Nuclear Energy and its programs can be found here.

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Press Release

News Media Contact: (202) 586-4940

For Immediate Release: April 27, 2018


Secretary of Energy Rick Perry Announces $60 Million for U.S. Industry Awards in Support of Advanced Nuclear Technology Development

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Secretary of Energy Rick Perry announced today that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has selected 13 projects to receive approximately $60 million in federal funding for cost-shared research and development for advanced nuclear technologies. These selections are the first under DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy’s U.S. Industry Opportunities for Advanced Nuclear Technology Development funding opportunity announcement (FOA), and subsequent quarterly application review and selection processes will be conducted over the next five years. DOE intends to apply up to $40 million of additional FY 2018 funding to the next two quarterly award cycles for innovative proposals under this FOA.

“Promoting early-stage investment in advanced nuclear power technology will support a strong, domestic, nuclear energy industry now and into the future,” said Secretary Perry. “Making these new investments is an important step to reviving and revitalizing nuclear energy, and ensuring that our nation continues to benefit from this clean, reliable, resilient source of electricity. Supporting existing as well as advanced reactor development will pave the way to a safer, more efficient, and clean baseload energy that supports the U.S. economy and energy independence.”

The selected awards underscore the importance of the private-public partnerships engaged in by U.S. companies in order to share expertise needed to successfully develop innovative nuclear technologies. The projects will allow industry-led teams, which include participants from federal agencies, public and private laboratories, institutions of higher education, and other domestic entities, to advance the state of U.S. commercial nuclear capability.

This FOA covers three innovative funding pathways:

1. First-of-a-Kind (FOAK) Nuclear Demonstration Readiness Project pathway, intended to address major advanced reactor design development projects or complex technology advancements for existing plants which have significant technical and licensing risk and have the potential to be deployed by the mid-to-late 2020s.
2. Advanced Reactor Development Projects pathway, which allows a broad scope of proposed concepts and ideas that are best suited to improving the capabilities and commercialization potential of advanced reactor designs and technologies.
3. Regulatory Assistance Grants, which provide direct support for resolving design regulatory issues, regulatory review of licensing topical reports or papers, and other efforts focused on obtaining certification and licensing approvals for advanced reactor designs and capabilities.

As part of DOE’s commitment to supporting U.S. industry through private-public technical partnerships for nuclear energy innovation, the Department is also announcing technical voucher awards to U.S. companies selected under the Department’s Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) initiative.

The following two projects were selected under the FOAK Nuclear Demonstration Readiness Project Pathway:

  • Design and License Application Development for TRISO-X: A Cross-Cutting, High Assay Low Enriched Uranium Fuel Fabrication Facility – X Energy, LLC (Greenbelt, MD). This project will develop the design and license application development for a fuel fabrication facility capable of handling high-assay, low-enriched uranium and production of U.S.-developed uranium oxycarbide (UCO) TRistructural ISOtropic (TRISO) particle based fuel elements required for the future fleet of advanced reactors. DOE Funding: $4,494,444; Non-DOE: $4,494,444; Total Value: $8,988,888
  • Phase 1 NuScale Small Modular Reactor FOAK Nuclear Demonstration Readiness Project – NuScale Power (Corvallis, OR). This project will conduct design finalization activities and ensure supply chain readiness to meet a commercial operation date of 2026 for the first NuScale plant. DOE Funding: $40,000,000; Non-DOE: $40,000,000; Total Value: $80,000,000

The following four projects were selected under the Advanced Reactor Development Projects pathway:

  • Combining Multi-Scale Modeling with Microcapsule Irradiation to Expedite Advanced Fuels Deployment – General Atomics (San Diego, CA). This work proposed by General Atomics aims to combine advances made in microstructurally-informed fuel performance modeling and simulation tools with a new microcapsule irradiation capability that can substantially reduce the schedule and cost burden associated with qualifying new fuel systems for commercial deployment.
    DOE Funding: $2,210,995; Non-DOE: $552,749; Total: $2,763,744
  • Modeling and Optimization of Flow and Heat Transfer in Reactor Components for Molten Chloride Salt Fast Reactor Application – Elysium Industries USA (Clifton Park, NY). This project will develop the computational fluid dynamics models needed to simulate and optimize the flows of chloride molten salt fuel in a reactor vessel and heat exchangers for their Molten Chloride Salt Fast Reactor design.
    DOE Funding: $2,560,000; Non-DOE: $640,000; Total Value: $3,200,000
  • Establishment of an integrated advanced manufacturing and data science driven paradigm for advanced reactor systems – BWXT Nuclear Energy, Inc. (Lynchburg, VA). This project will develop the ability to implement Additive Materials Manufacturing to the fabrication process for nuclear components and sub-components that will yield acceptable material structure and strength that can be accepted by the national code organizations and the regulator.
    DOE Funding: $5,400,000; Non-DOE: $4,415,000; Total Value: $9,815,000
  • Dynamic Natural Convection - Passive Cooling for the LWR Fleet - NuVision Engineering Inc. (Pittsburgh, PA). This project proposes an engineered solution to mitigate the effects of loss of power to light water-based nuclear reactors and to remove decay heat from the reactor core, mitigating losses due to random equipment failures and severe accidents.
    DOE Funding: $ 2,999,657; Non-DOE: $749,914; Total Value: $3,749,571

The following two projects were selected under the Regulatory Assistance Grant pathway:

  • Resolving the Regulatory Issues with Implementation of Online Monitoring Technologies to Extend the Calibration Intervals of Process Instruments in Nuclear Power Plants - Analysis and Measurement Services (AMS) Corporation (Knoxville, TN). This project will work with nuclear industry stakeholders and the regulator to develop guidelines for extending calibration intervals of transmitters using online monitoring technology.
    DOE Funding: $499,906; Non-DOE: $125,000; Total Value: $624,906
  • Pre-Application License Review of Silicon Carbide Composite Clad Uranium Carbide Fuel for Long-Life Gas-Cooled Fast Reactor Cores – General Atomics (San Diego, CA). This project will engage the regulator to execute a pre-licensing review of a silicon carbide composite-clad uranium carbide fuel system for use in a gas-cooled fast reactor long-life core.
    DOE Funding: $380,655; Non-DOE: $95,164; Total Value: $475,819

DOE has selected five U.S. companies to receive GAIN technology development vouchers in this first review cycle. The companies selected and the DOE contribution to the cost-shared vouchers are Terrestrial Energy, USA in New York, NY ($500,000); Vega Wave Systems, Inc. in West Chicago, IL ($130,000); Oklo, Inc. in Sunnyvale, CA ($417,000); Urbix Resources, LLC in Mesa, AZ ($320,000); and ThorCon US, Inc. in Stevenson, WA ($400,000)

More information on the GAIN initiative awards can be found HERE. More information on the Office of Nuclear Energy and its programs can be found HERE.

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INL News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 3, 2018

NEWS MEDIA CONTACTS:
Sarah Neumann (208) 526-0490, sarah.neumann@inl.gov
Lori McNamara (208) 526-1508, lori.mcnamara@inl.gov April 3, 2018

DOE, BEA conclude negotiations on contract extension terms

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — In December, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) decided to extend its contract with Battelle Energy Alliance (BEA) to manage and operate Idaho National Laboratory (INL). This week, DOE officially approved the contract modification that enables a five-year extension through Sept. 30, 2024. This followed a successful negotiation between DOE and BEA on terms and conditions of the INL contract.

The contract extension complies with Executive Order 13777, Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda, issued by President Trump on Feb. 24, 2017 directing agencies to eliminate unnecessary regulatory burdens, and reflects DOE’s initiative to reform management and operating contracts. This has been accomplished by granting greater authority and accountability to the site contractor and eliminating contractual redundancies. This is all enabled by the outstanding partnership between DOE and INL.

“The agreed-upon terms bring clarity to what is expected of BEA and INL in the next several years,” INL Director Mark Peters said. “The ultimate outcome is that INL is even better-positioned to serve the American taxpayer by helping resolve the nation’s big energy and security challenges.”

"It's rewarding to see the positive impact we have on Idaho's economy," INL Director Mark Peters said. "Ultimately, that means we are improving the lives of all Idahoans and their communities."

DOE originally awarded BEA the management contract in November 2004, when INL was created. That contract ran from Feb. 1, 2005 until Sept. 30, 2014. At that point, DOE exercised a five-year option period that was set to expire Sept. 30, 2019. With the new five-year extension, BEA is contracted to operate and manage INL through Sept. 30, 2024.

DOE originally awarded BEA the management contract in November 2004, when INL was created. That contract ran from Feb. 1, 2005 until Sept. 30, 2014. At that point, DOE exercised a five-year option period that was set to expire Sept. 30, 2019. With the new five-year extension, BEA is contracted to operate and manage INL through Sept. 30, 2024.

Some key INL initiatives during the term of the contract extension will include:

  • Providing world-class nuclear science and technology capabilities to the nation, including the Advanced Test Reactor (ATR), Transient Reactor Test Facility (TREAT), and the Materials and Fuels Complex (MFC), to revitalize the nuclear energy sector in the United States.
  • Continuing research and development on advanced reactor designs, including partnering with the private sector to develop and demonstrate microreactor technologies for potentially powering remote communities and military bases around the world. This work will also include partnerships with industry and other stakeholders to develop and deploy the next generation of nuclear reactors including small modular reactors (SMRs).
  •  
  • Improving upon INL’s world-leading cyber security capabilities and expertise, including efforts to make the nation’s power grids, transportation and water systems more resilient from cyber, physical and natural threats.
  • Extending the electric vehicle corridor in the west, including longer-lived batteries and improved charging infrastructure.
  • Developing integrated energy systems to stabilize the power grid and increase energy storage capabilities.
  • Continuing support for biofuels research and turning captured carbon into usable products, something that could help the nation’s coal plants reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Promoting STEM education and working with our college and university partners to fill the pipeline of potential future employees with talented scientists, engineers, technicians and support personnel.
  • And finally, productive partnerships with academia, industry, and federal, state and local governments that allow us to solve complex problems while driving economic growth and making American industry more competitive on a global scale, now and into the future.

INL is one of the DOE’s national laboratories. The laboratory performs work in each of DOE’s strategic goal areas: energy, national security, science and environment. INL is the nation’s leading center for nuclear energy research and development. Day-to-day management and operation of the laboratory is the responsibility of Battelle Energy Alliance.

 

--INL-18-004--



 

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U.S. Department of Energy Idaho Operations Office
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U.S. Industry Opportunities for Advanced Nuclear Technology Development Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) Number DE-FOA-0001817

Announcement Date: 12/07/2017
DOE Seal DOE Office of Nuclear Energy has issued a new FOA to support the U.S. Nuclear Industry.

Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) announces advanced nuclear technology development voucher opportunity
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DOE Seal IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — The Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) today announced the availability of fiscal year 2018 funds for vouchers...
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