The development of advanced nuclear energy systems in the U.S. will depend greatly on the continued success of currently operating light water nuclear power plants and the ordering of new installations in the short term. DOE needs to give those immediate objectives the highest priority and any additional support they require to assure their success.
DOE is pursuing two initiatives to encourage a greater use of nuclear energy systems. The initiatives have been reviewed by NERAC Subcommittee on Generation IV Technology Planning (GRNS) and they are:
Although they are tiny, atoms have a large amount of energy holding their nuclei together. Certain isotopes of some elements can be split and will release part of their energy as heat. This splitting is called fission. The heat released in fission can be used to help generate electricity in powerplants. Uranium-235 (U-235) is one of the isotopes that fissions easily. During fission, U-235 atoms absorb loose neutrons. This causes U-235 to become unstable and split into two light atoms called fission products.
The objective of this document is to provide the Department of Energy (DOE) and the nuclear industry with the basis for a plan to ensure the availability of near-term nuclear energy options that can be in operation in the U.S. by 2010. This document identifies the technological, regulatory, and institutional gaps and issues that need to be addressed for new nuclear plants to be deployed in the U.S. in this timeframe. It also identifies specific designs that could be deployed by 2010, along with the actions and resource requirements that are needed to ensure their availability.
Nuclear power plants in the United States currently produce about 20 percent of the nation’s electricity. This nuclear-generated electricity is safe, clean and economical, and does not emit greenhouse gases. Continued and expanded reliance on nuclear energy is one key to meeting future demand for electricity in the U.S. and is called for in the National Energy Policy. Nevertheless, no new nuclear plants have been built in the U.S. in many years, and none are currently slated for construction.
The purpose of this Implementing Arrangement is to establish between the Department of Energy of the United States of America and the Commissariat a l'Energie Atomique of France, hereinafter referred to as the parties, terms for bilateral collaboration on Research and Development focused on advanced technologies for improving the costs, safety, and proliferation-resistance of nuclear power systems.
Nuclear energy currently provides approxi- mately 20 percent of the electricity for the U.S. The primary alternative for power generation is fossil fuels. Though still controversial, evidence continues to mount about the negative health and environmental effects of carbon emissions. Nuclear power is the most significant technology available for meeting anticipated energy needs while reducing emissions to the environment.
The Charter of the Generation IV Roadmap Fuel Cycle Crosscut Group (FCCG) is to (1) examine the fuel cycle implications for alternative nuclear power scenarios in terms of Generation IV goals and (2) identify key fuel cycle issues associated with Generation IV goals. This included examination of “fuel resource inputs and waste outputs for the range of potential Generation IV fuel cycles, consistent with projected energy demand scenarios.” This report summarizes the results of the studies.
The NERAC1 Task Force on Technology Opportunities for Increasing the Proliferation Resistance of Global Civilian Nuclear Power Systems (TOPS) determined at its first meeting in November 1999 that a set of metrics was needed to judge proliferation resistance and to identify areas in which technical contributions could be useful.
In 1998, DOE established the Nuclear Energy Research Advisory Committee (NERAC) to provide advice to the Secretary and to the Director, Office of Nuclear Energy, Science, and Technology (NE), on the broad range of non-defense DOE nuclear technology programs. The NERAC recommended development of a long-range R&D program. This R&D plan is a result of that recommendation and is the first of what is expected to be an iterated series of long-range plans for nuclear energy in the Department of Energy.
This document constitutes the first edition of a long-term research and development (R&D) plan for nuclear technology in the United States. The federally-sponsored nuclear technology programs of the United States are almost exclusively the province of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The nuclear energy areas in DOE include, but are not limited to, R&D related to power reactors and the responsibility for the waste management system for final disposition of the spent fuel resulting from nuclear power reactors.
Isotopes, including both radioactive and stable isotopes, make important contributions to research, medicine, and industry in the United States and throughout the world. For nearly fifty years, the Department of Energy (DOE) has actively promoted the use of isotopes by funding (a) production of isotopes at a number of national laboratories with unique nuclear reactors or particle accelerators, (b) nuclear medicine research at the laboratories and in academia, (c) research into industrial applications of isotopes, and (d) research into isotope production and processing methods.
Nuclear engineering programs and departments with an initial emphasis in fission were formed in the late 1950’s and 1960’s from interdisciplinary efforts in many of the top research universities, providing the manpower for this technical discipline. In the same time period, for many of these programs, university nuclear reactors were constructed and began their operation, providing some of the facilities needed for research and training of students engaged in this profession. However, over the last decade, the U.S.
"Even though one cannot anticipate the answers in basic research, the return on the public's investment can be maximized through long-range planning of the most promising avenues to explore and the resources needed to explore them." (p. v) "Pursuit of this goal entails developing new technologies and advanced facilities, educating young scientists, training a technical workforce, and contributing to the broader science and technology enterprise?." (p. vi) Ref:: "Nuclear Science: A Long Range Plan", DOE/NSF, Feb. 1996.
The Expert Panel has concluded that the Department of Energy and National Institutes of Health must develop the capability to produce a diverse supply of radioisotopes for medical use in quantities sufficient to support research and clinical activities. Such a capability would prevent shortages of isotopes, reduce American dependence on foreign radionuclide sources and stimulate biomedical research. The expert panel recommends that the U.S.