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Kairos Power is to establish a low-power demonstration reactor at the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) in Oak Ridge, investing USD100 million in a project to demonstrate its capability to deliver low-cost nuclear heat. The Hermes reactor is a scaled version of Kairos Power’s Fluoride Salt-Cooled High Temperature Reactor (KP-FHR), an advanced reactor technology that aims to be cost competitive with natural gas in the US electricity market. The Hermes reactor is scheduled to be operational in 2026.

Date: Saturday, 17 July 2021
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A Framatome employee inspects a Gaia fuel assembly Courtesy Framatome. The first reload of Framatome’s Gaia advanced accident-tolerant nuclear fuel has been installed in a US pressurised water reactor unit.

The French company said 64 fuel assemblies manufactured at its fuel fabrication facility in Richland, Washington, were loaded into the reactor as part of a standard spring refuelling outage.

It did not name the plant where the fuel had been loaded. In April 2019, Framatome said the first Gaia assemblies had been loaded into the reactor core of Unit 2 at Georgia’s Vogtle nuclear power plant.

Lionel Gaiffe, senior executive vice-president, fuel business unit at Framatome, said Gaia is the company’s most advanced pressurised water reactor fuel design. The fuel has several advanced features that provide added safety and economic benefits to nuclear plant operators.

Date: Wednesday, 14 July 2021
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Seattle-based Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC) announced on 22 June that it has begun working with the Nuclear Research & Consultancy Group (NRG) from the Netherlands. NRG will implement a programme to analyse performance and safety attributes of the company’s proprietary Fully Ceramic Microencapsulated (FCMTM) fuel designed for use in its Micro Modular Reactor (MMRTM).

Date: Friday, 25 June 2021
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USNC has said it hopes to build and operate its first micro modular reactor unit by 2026. Courtesy USNC/NRG. Netherlands-based NRG is to carry out a programme of irradiation tests on Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation’s (USNC) proprietary fully ceramic microencapsulated (FCM) fuel at the high flux reactor in Petten.

NRG said the aim of the tests is to demonstrate the safety of the fuel for the 20-year lifespan of Seattle-based USNC’s micro modular reactor. NRG said extensive pre- and post-irradiation tests at its hot cell laboratories will be part of the programme.

FCM fuel is a next-generation tristructural-Isotropic (Triso) particle fuel design, replacing the 50-year-old graphite matrix of traditional Triso fuel with silicon carbide, a material that is extremely resistant to radiation and thermal damage.

The SiC matrix in FCM fuel provides a dense, gas-tight barrier, preventing the escape of fission products even if a Triso particle should rupture during operation. The result is a safer nuclear fuel that can withstand higher temperatures and more radiation.

Date: Friday, 25 June 2021
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Nuclear Research & Consultancy Group (NRG) of the Netherlands will conduct a programme of irradiation tests on Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation's (USNC's) proprietary Fully Ceramic Microencapsulated (FCM) fuel at the High Flux Reactor (HFR) in Petten. The aim of the tests is to demonstrate the safety of the fuel for the 20-year lifespan of the USNC's Micro Modular Reactor.

Date: Thursday, 24 June 2021
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No radiation release or environmental concern at French-designed EPR plant The Taishan nuclear power station in southern China. Courtesy Framatome. The Taishan-1 nuclear power plant in China’s southern Guangdog province is in “normal condition and operational safety is guaranteed” following a minor fuel rod cladding failure which resulted in increased radioactivity in the unit’s primary reactor coolant, China’s regulator said.

China Atomic Energy Authority, which oversees the development of nuclear energy in China, said fuel rod cladding failure is a common phenomenon in nuclear plant operations and is being dealt with in accordance with accepted standards and procedures.

The unit’s performance indicators, including the radioactivity of the primary reactor coolant, remain within the range of normal conditions and technical specifications, CAEA said.

It also said the reactor unit’s coolant system pressure boundary is intact and containment integrity maintained.

Environmental radiation monitoring has confirmed there has been no radiation release and there is no environmental concern, CAEA said.

Date: Friday, 18 June 2021
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An increase in the concentration of noble gases in the primary circuit of the Taishan 1 EPR is related to a few damaged fuel rods, China's National Nuclear Safety Administration (NNSA) confirmed today. It said the increase is "a common phenomenon" and is still in accordance with the requirements of the plant's operating technical specifications. Earlier this week, France's Framatome - which designed the EPR - said the unit was experiencing a "performance issue".

Date: Thursday, 17 June 2021
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Fuel rod fault suspected as cause The Taishan nuclear power plant has two EPR units in commercial operation since 2018 and 2019. Image courtesy Framatome. The Taishan-1 nuclear power plant in China’s southern Guangdong province is at present operating within safety parameters, a spokesperson for reactor technology provider Framatome told NucNet.

French energy Group EDF said yesterday that it had been informed by operators of the increase in the concentration of certain inert (noble) gases in the primary circuit at Taishan-1, an EPR supplied by EDF subsidiary Framatome.

Taishan-1 made headlines on Monday after CNN reported that the US government had been working to investigate reports of a “leak” at the 1,660-MW pressurised water reactor unit.

EDF said the presence of inert gases in the primary circuit is a known phenomenon, “studied and provided for” in the reactor operating procedures.

Date: Wednesday, 16 June 2021
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Russia’s Siberian Chemical Combine (SCC) in Seversk, part of Rosatom’s TVEL Fuel Company on 3 June began pilot production of uranium-plutonium Remix fuel assemblies (TVS) for VVER-1000 light water reactors. Fabrication of the first Remix-TVS was organised in cooperation with the Mining and Chemical Combine (MCC) in Zheleznogorsk, Krasnoyarsk Territory, where the production of uranium-plutonium fuel pellets was undertaken. The first batch of pellets has already been delivered from Zheleznogorsk to Seversk and has successfully passed incoming inspection procedures at SCC. Experimental fuel rods and fuel assemblies using Remix fuel will be manufactured according to the TVS-2M design - this is one of the basic designs for VVER-1000 fuel.

Date: Wednesday, 09 June 2021
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Generation IV unit will help efforts to close nuclear fuel cycle Rosatom director-general Alexey Likhachev at the inaugural event on 8 June. Image courtesy Tvel. Russia began construction on Tuesday of the Brest-OD-300 pilot demonstration power plant with pouring of first concrete at the site of the Siberian Chemical Combine in Seversk, southwest Siberia, Russian nuclear fuel manufacturer Tvel said.

Brest-OD-300 is a 300-MW Generation IV lead-cooled fast reactor that will run on mixed uranium-plutonium nitride fuel specifically designed for the purpose.

The plant is part of a pilot demonstration energy complex which comes under Russia’s Breakthrough project for the development of closed nuclear fuel cycle technology.

A closed nuclear fuel cycle means spent fuel is reprocessed and partly reused. Closing the nuclear fuel cycle would ease concerns over limited uranium resources and contribute towards making nuclear energy sustainable over the long term.

Date: Wednesday, 09 June 2021
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