The US and South Korea have agreed to expand their work on nuclear energy development in a bid to increase their presence in foreign markets. In a joint statement, both countries announced commitment to "develop cooperation in overseas nuclear markets, including joint participation in nuclear power plant projects, while ensuring the highest standards of international nuclear safety, security and nonproliferation are maintained."
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The use of additive manufacturing and 3D printing in the nuclear industry has led to the development of new radiation shielding materials, such as boron carbide and irradiation-resistant titanium parts. French nuclear company Framatome used 3D printing technology this year to manufacture the world's first uranium-molybdenum and uranium-silicon objects, marking a significant milestone for the production of metallic uranium fuel plates for research reactors and irradiation targets for medical isotopes.
Engineers are advancing the field of nondestructive testing, or NDT, for pressure vessel inspection through increasingly sophisticated machine learning techniques. The field will also benefit from a nearly completed study of the use of NDT to inspect operation-induced material degradation in nuclear power plants, writes Zita Zachariah, publishing editor at the Royal Society of Chemistry.
Engineering services provider Jacobs has entered a partnership agreement with EDF subsidiary NNB Generation to assist on the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station project in Somerset, England. Under the contract, Jacobs will be a preferred supplier and will remain a partner on the project until commissioning is complete.
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Nuclear advocacy group Nuclear Matters has debuted a campaign encouraging Illinois residents and communities to urge state legislators to approve financial support for the state's Byron and Dresden nuclear power plants, which Exelon plans to retire later this year ahead of schedule. "Not only do nuclear plants provide 87.6 percent of the state's carbon-free energy, but the plants directly and indirectly provide 28,000 jobs and generate $3.8 billion in annual contributions to the state's economy," Nuclear Matters says.
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Researchers at Australia's Monash University have discovered that highly radioactive uranium and plutonium particles and the processes through which they were dispersed into the environment during British atomic tests in the 1950s and 1960s are more complex and diverse than previously thought. "We found that the particles contained low-valence plutonium-uranium-carbon compounds that are typically highly reactive, yet had been stabilized in the hot-particle matrix for nearly 60 years," said corresponding study author Barbara Etschmann.
The federal government will honor its commitment to remove a shipment of defense plutonium sent from the Department of Energy's Savannah River Site in South Carolina to the Nevada National Security Site near Las Vegas in 2018, acting National Nuclear Security Administration head Charles Verdon told Nevada lawmakers last week. The NNSA has previously said that the plutonium is not waste and will be used for plutonium pit production at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.
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The Rolls-Royce-led UK small modular reactor consortium is asking the UK government for $2.8 billion to support construction of the first two or three plants of a planned 16. Without government backing, the consortium will be forced to pursue funding from foreign entities, said consortium interim CEO Tom Samson.
Russia is leveraging its leadership of the Arctic Council to bring into focus the issue of nuclear waste in the Arctic Ocean and plans to hold an international conference in June 2022 to discuss with other Arctic nations how to recover Soviet-era radioactive and hazardous objects, including nuclear submarine reactors, found on the ocean floor. Russian nuclear safety expert Andrey Zolotkov says there is environmental and foreign policy momentum to tackle the Arctic radioactive waste issue, since "[e]cology is one of the few topics where Russia and foreign partners can conduct constructive dialogue nowadays."
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