On March 11, 2008, Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman signed a policy statement1 on the management of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) excess uranium inventory (Policy Statement). This Policy Statement provides the framework within which DOE will make decisions concerning future use and disposition of this inventory.
The Department of Energy (DOE) Nuclear Energy Advisory Committee (NEAC) formed two subcommittees to develop a report for the new Administration: a Policy Subcommittee chartered to evaluate U.S. nuclear energy policy and a Technical Subcommittee to review facilities for nuclear energy programs. The two subcommittee reports follow this brief summary.1
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) owns and manages an inventory of depleted uranium (DU), natural uranium (NU), and low-enriched uranium (LEU) that is currently stored in large cylinders as depleted uranium hexafluoride (DUF6), natural uranium hexafluoride (NUF6), and low-enriched uranium hexafluoride (LEUF6) at the DOE Paducah site in western Kentucky (DOE Paducah) and the DOE Portsmouth site near Piketon in south-central Ohio (DOE Portsmouth)1.
Nuclear reactors present a very harsh environment for components service. Components within a reactor core must tolerate high temperature water, stress, vibration, and an intense neutron field. Degradation of materials in this environment can lead to reduced performance, and in some cases, sudden failure. A recent EPRI-led study interviewed 47 US nuclear utility executives to gauge perspectives on long-term operation of nuclear reactors. Nearly 90% indicated that extensions of reactor lifetimes to beyond 60 years were likely.
The International Nuclear Energy Research Initiative (I-NERI) supports the National Energy Policy by pursuing international collaborations to conduct research that will advance the state of nuclear science and technology in the United States. I-NERI promotes bilateral and multilateral scientific and engineering research and development (R&D) with other nations.
Securing sufficient supplies of fresh water for societal, industrial, and agricultural uses while protecting the natural environment is becoming increasingly difficult in many parts of the United States. Climate variability and change may exacerbate the situation through hotter weather and disrupted precipitation patterns that promote regional droughts. Achieving long- term water sustainability will require balancing competing needs effectively, managing water resources more holistically, and developing innovative approaches to water use and conserva- tion.
The International Nuclear Energy Research Initiative (I‐NERI) supports the National Energy Policy by conducting research to advance the state of nuclear science and technology in the United States. I‐NERI sponsors innovative scientific and engineering research and development (R&D) in cooperation with participating countries. The research performed under the I‐NERI umbrella addresses key issues affecting the future of nuclear energy and its global deployment. A link to the program can be found at the NE website.
The Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) program is still evolving. Since our report of March 22, 2006 the DOE has sought to gauge industry interest in participation in the program from its very beginning. At the time the ANTT committee met, August 30- 31, 2006, responses had not yet been received from industry to the DOE’s request for Expressions of Interest. This report is based on the assumption that the program outlined recently, which does not include an Advanced Burner Test Reactor, is what will go forward.
In 2002, the Department of Energy Office of Nuclear Energy completed a technology roadmap project that provided an overall plan to the broad vision of enhancing the future role of nuclear energy systems in the United States and the world at large. This Technology Roadmap focused on the development of advanced nuclear systems, so-called Generation IV systems, which meet profram foals of improved safety and economics, as well as enhanced sustainability and minimization of the risks from proliferation.
The Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) marks a major change in the direction of the DOE’s nuclear energy R&D program. It is a coherent plan to test technologies that promise to markedly reduce the problem of nuclear waste treatment and to reduce the proliferation risk in a world with a greatly expanded nuclear power program. It brings the U.S. program into much closer alignment with that of the other major nuclear energy states.
The International Nuclear Energy Research Initiative (I‐NERI) supports the National Energy Policy by conducting research to advance the state of nuclear science and technology in the United States. I‐NERI sponsors innovative scientific and engineering research and development (R&D) in cooperation with participating countries. The research performed under the I‐NERI umbrella addresses the key issues affecting the future of nuclear energy and its global deployment.
To amend Article 12.1 of the Agreement to read as follows:
"This Agreement shall enter into force upon the latter date of signature, shall remain in force for five (5) years, and subject to Article 12.3 shall be automatically renewed for additional five-year periods."
This Amendment shall enter into force upon signature by both Parties, with effect from September 18, 2005.
The objective of this implementing arrangement is to set forth detailed terms and conditions and to establish a framework for the Cooperation between the Parties for research and development of innovative nuclear energy technologies. The Parties shall conduct the Cooperation on the basis of the mutual benefit, equaliity and reciprocity.
The Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative (AFCI) of the Department of Energy has been formulated to perform research leading to advanced fuels and fuel cycles for advanced nuclear power systems. One of the objectives of AFCI is to determine if partitioning and transmutation of spent nuclear fuel will reduce the burden on the geologic repository. The AFCI program is periodically reviewed by the Advanced Nuclear Transmutation Technology (ANTT) subcommittee of the Nuclear Energy Research Advisory Committee (NERAC).
Supercritical-Water-Cooled Reactor (SCWR) was selected as one of the promising candidates in Generation IV reactors for its prominent advantages; those are the high thermal efficiency, the system simplification, the R&D cost minimization and the flexibility for core design. As the demand for advanced nuclear system increases, Japanese R&D project started in 1999 aiming to provide technical information essential to demonstration of SCPR technologies through three sub-themes of 1. Plant conceptual design, 2. Thermal-hydraulics, and 3. Material.
As an element of its plans to return the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) site in eastern Idaho to its historic mission of nuclear technology development, the DOE asked its Nuclear Energy Research Advisory Committee (NERAC) to establish a Subcommittee on Nuclear Laboratory Requirements. The Subcommittee was charged with identifying the “characteristics, capabilities, and attributes a world-class nuclear laboratory would possess”.
Noting further that representatives of DOE's Office of Nuclear Energy, Science, and Technology and ANRE have identified common interests in innovative light water reactor technologies, including supercritical light water, innovative processing technologies of oxide fuel for light water reactor, and innovative fuel technologies using solvent extraction.
On October 1, 2002 the DOE Nuclear Energy Research Advisory Committee was asked to provide specific, focused updates to its Nuclear Science and Technology Infrastructure Roadmap and review the specific issues at the DOE key nuclear energy research and development (R&D) laboratories. This activity was assigned to a five-member Infrastructure Task Force (ITF).
The ANTT Subcommittee of NERAC met February 26th and 27th (S. Pillon absent) to begin a review of the potential role of transmutation technologies in increasing the capacity of the geological repository for spent reactor fuel. This work is in support of the recommendation required from the Secretary of Energy later in this decade on the need for a second repository. Since repository issues were under discussion, representatives of the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management (RW) were in attendance.