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Special Issue "Expanding Nuclear Applications and Technologies for a Clean Energy Future"

A special issue of Energies (ISSN 1996-1073). This special issue belongs to the section "A5: Hydrogen Energy".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (20 July 2022) | Viewed by 9170

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Steven E. Aumeier
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Nuclear Energy Programs & Strategy, Idaho National Laboratory, 775 MK Simpson Blvd, Idaho Falls, ID 83401, USA
Interests: nuclear energy; energy security; nuclear energy markets; clean energy and systems research; nuclear technology; advanced signal processing techniques, energy policy; stakeholder engagement processes; integrated energy systems architecture design; and global nuclear energy market strategies
Dr. John C. Wagner
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Nuclear Science and Technology Directorate, Idaho National Laboratory, 2525 Fremont Ave, Idaho Falls, ID 83402, USA
Interests: nuclear energy; reactor technology; used/spent nuclear fuel; monte carlo; hybrid radiation transport methods

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

As the world enters a formative period of transition to clean energy economies, commercial nuclear energy markets enter their sixth decade of existence. Today, nuclear energy accounts for over 10% of global electricity generation, and the number of nuclear reactors deployed continues to grow steadily. These reactors, however, are principally deployed to serve baseload electricity markets, and the complexity and cost of deploying these large legacy-technology reactors can be prohibitive for emerging and transitioning energy markets, and thus inhibit the fullest possible benefit of a key resource in establishing clean energy economies.

To address these and other challenges, a new generation of technologies is envisioned, which promise to enable the expansion of nuclear energy in transitioning and emerging energy markets. These systems and technologies, typically much smaller in size, and including “cartridge core” type systems utilizing intelligent monitoring and control unprecedented in today’s fleet, are envisioned to be integrated into industrial operations, operate semi-autonomously or by remote-control, provide heat and power in remote geographies or in relatively under-developed infrastructures, and provide load-follow options as part of resilient hybrid nuclear–renewable energy grids. As such, the technology may open a path for the global deployment of nuclear energy much different than that of the past six decades, one characterized by large fleets of small reactors integrated into community and industrial systems. These approaches, however, will require not only new classes of technology, but also the dedicated, deliberate development of social license among stakeholders, as well as a re-examination of the norms and standards guiding export and operations.

This Special Issue seeks to contribute to the understanding of the potential for a new class of nuclear technologies, nuclear operations, and deployment approaches in establishing the foundation for clean energy economies, as well as to the deep understanding of related technology, and to describe social and policy issues key to realizing the potential of the technology. To this end, we invite papers describing advances in novel small reactor designs and enabling technologies and techniques key to their deployment, such as the use of digital twins, advanced monitoring and controls, and other techniques; systems integration and hybridization architectures and enabling technologies including energy storage, hydrogen generation, and carbon conversion using nuclear energy; and research and development focused on next-generation nuclear technology acceptance in a variety of socioeconomic environments.

Dr. Steven E. Aumeier
Dr. John C. Wagner
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Energies is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • nuclear energy
  • nuclear technology
  • clean energy
  • energy transitions
  • embedded intelligence
  • digital twin
  • fission battery
  • microreactor
  • small modular reactor
  • grid-scale energy storage
  • hydrogen generation
  • emerging energy markets
  • social license
  • autonomous operations
  • hybrid energy systems
  • carbon conversion
  • carbon management

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

Article
Can Nuclear Batteries Be Economically Competitive in Large Markets?
Energies 2021, 14(14), 4385; https://doi.org/10.3390/en14144385 - 20 Jul 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1505
Abstract
We introduce the concept of the nuclear battery, a standardized, factory-fabricated, road transportable, plug-and-play micro-reactor. Nuclear batteries have the potential to provide on-demand, carbon-free, economic, resilient, and safe energy for distributed heat and electricity applications in every sector of the economy. The cost [...] Read more.
We introduce the concept of the nuclear battery, a standardized, factory-fabricated, road transportable, plug-and-play micro-reactor. Nuclear batteries have the potential to provide on-demand, carbon-free, economic, resilient, and safe energy for distributed heat and electricity applications in every sector of the economy. The cost targets for nuclear batteries in these markets are 20–50 USD/MWht (6–15 USD/MMBTU) and 70–115 USD/MWhe for heat and electricity, respectively. We present a parametric study of the nuclear battery’s levelized cost of heat and electricity, suggesting that those cost targets are within reach. The cost of heat and electricity from nuclear batteries is expected to depend strongly on core power rating, fuel enrichment, fuel burnup, size of the onsite staff, fabrication costs and financing. Notional examples of cheap and expensive nuclear battery designs are provided. Full article
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Article
Social License in the Deployment of Advanced Nuclear Technology
Energies 2021, 14(14), 4304; https://doi.org/10.3390/en14144304 - 16 Jul 2021
Viewed by 1194
Abstract
The deployment of advanced nuclear technologies is anticipated to be part of the actions required to mitigate global climate change. The successful deployment of these new technologies, like all new infrastructure projects, will be more successful if the projects have strong public support. [...] Read more.
The deployment of advanced nuclear technologies is anticipated to be part of the actions required to mitigate global climate change. The successful deployment of these new technologies, like all new infrastructure projects, will be more successful if the projects have strong public support. Successful deployment of energy infrastructure correlates with thoughtful approaches to equitable energy transitions. This work recalls the history of recent energy infrastructure deployments, shows where the inclusion of social scientists has improved the possibility of success and proposes specific steps to make future deployments of advanced nuclear technologies successful. Full article
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Article
A Meta-Level Framework for Evaluating Resilience in Net-Zero Carbon Power Systems with Extreme Weather Events in the United States
Energies 2021, 14(14), 4243; https://doi.org/10.3390/en14144243 - 14 Jul 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 865
Abstract
Important changes are underway in the U.S. power industry in the way that electricity is sourced, transported, and utilized. Disruption from extreme weather events and cybersecurity events is bringing new scrutiny to power-system resilience. Recognizing the complex social and technical aspects that are [...] Read more.
Important changes are underway in the U.S. power industry in the way that electricity is sourced, transported, and utilized. Disruption from extreme weather events and cybersecurity events is bringing new scrutiny to power-system resilience. Recognizing the complex social and technical aspects that are involved, this article provides a meta-level framework for coherently evaluating and making decisions about power-system resilience. It does so by examining net-zero carbon strategies with quantitative, qualitative, and integrative dimensions across discrete location-specific systems and timescales. The generalizable framework is designed with a flexibility and logic that allows for refinement to accompany stakeholder review processes and highly localized decision-making. To highlight the framework’s applicability across multiple timescales, processes, and types of knowledge, power system outages are reviewed for extreme weather events, including 2021 and 2011 winter storms that impacted Texas, the 2017 Hurricane Maria that affected Puerto Rico, and a heatwave/wildfire event in California in August 2020. By design, the meta-level framework enables utility decision-makers, regulators, insurers, and communities to analyze and track levels of resilience safeguards for a given system. Future directions to advance an integrated science of resilience in net-zero power systems and the use of this framework are also discussed. Full article
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Article
Digital Twin Concepts with Uncertainty for Nuclear Power Applications
Energies 2021, 14(14), 4235; https://doi.org/10.3390/en14144235 - 14 Jul 2021
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1845
Abstract
Digital Twins (DTs) are receiving considerable attention from multiple disciplines. Much of the literature at this time is dedicated to the conceptualization of digital twins, and associated enabling technologies and challenges. In this paper, we consider these propositions for the specific application of [...] Read more.
Digital Twins (DTs) are receiving considerable attention from multiple disciplines. Much of the literature at this time is dedicated to the conceptualization of digital twins, and associated enabling technologies and challenges. In this paper, we consider these propositions for the specific application of nuclear power. Our review finds that the current DT concepts are amenable to nuclear power systems, but benefit from some modifications and enhancements. Further, some areas of the existing modeling and simulation infrastructure around nuclear power systems are adaptable to DT development, while more recent efforts in advanced modeling and simulation are less suitable at this time. For nuclear power applications, DT development should rely first on mechanistic model-based methods to leverage the extensive experience and understanding of these systems. Model-free techniques can then be adopted to selectively, and correctively, augment limitations in the model-based approaches. Challenges to the realization of a DT are also discussed, with some being unique to nuclear engineering, however most are broader. A challenging aspect we discuss in detail for DTs is the incorporation of uncertainty quantification (UQ). Forward UQ enables the propagation of uncertainty from the digital representations to predict behavior of the physical asset. Similarly, inverse UQ allows for the incorporation of data from new measurements obtained from the physical asset back into the DT. Optimization under uncertainty facilitates decision support through the formal methods of optimal experimental design and design optimization that maximize information gain, or performance, of the physical asset in an uncertain environment. Full article
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Article
Grid-Scale Ternary-Pumped Thermal Electricity Storage for Flexible Operation of Nuclear Power Generation under High Penetration of Renewable Energy Sources
Energies 2021, 14(13), 3858; https://doi.org/10.3390/en14133858 - 27 Jun 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 837
Abstract
In this work, the integration of a grid-scale ternary-Pumped Thermal Electricity Storage (t-PTES) with a nuclear power generation to enhance operation flexibility is assessed using physics-based models and digital real time simulation. A part of the electricity from the nuclear power generation is [...] Read more.
In this work, the integration of a grid-scale ternary-Pumped Thermal Electricity Storage (t-PTES) with a nuclear power generation to enhance operation flexibility is assessed using physics-based models and digital real time simulation. A part of the electricity from the nuclear power generation is delivered to the grid, and the balance is used to power a heat pump that can be augmented by an auxiliary resistive load element to increase the charging rate of the thermal storage. This increases the thermal potential between hot and cold thermal stores (usually solid materials or molten salts inside large storage tanks). The thermal energy is transformed back into electricity by reversing the heat pump cycle. Different transient scenarios including startup, shutdown, and power change for grid-connected operation are simulated to determine the behavior of the hybrid nuclear-t-PTES system operating under variable loads that constitute a departure from conventional, baseload nuclear plant operation schemes. Ternary refers to the three modes operation: (i) heat pump (including heating coil), (ii) heat engine, and (iii) simultaneous operation of heat pump (including heating coil) and heat engine during changeover from pumping to generation or vice-versa. The controllability of t-PTES in the short timescales as a dynamic load is used to demonstrate operational flexibility of hybrid nuclear plants for flexible operation through advanced load management. The integration of t-PTES into nuclear power systems enhances the system flexibility and is an enabler for high penetration of renewable energy resources. Full article
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Article
Optimal Planning of Integrated Nuclear-Renewable Energy System for Marine Ships Using Artificial Intelligence Algorithm
Energies 2021, 14(11), 3188; https://doi.org/10.3390/en14113188 - 29 May 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1166
Abstract
Ocean-going ships are one of the primary sources of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. Several actions are being taken to reduce the GHG emissions from maritime vessels, and integration of Renewable Energy Sources (RESs) is one of them. Ocean-going marine ships need a large [...] Read more.
Ocean-going ships are one of the primary sources of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. Several actions are being taken to reduce the GHG emissions from maritime vessels, and integration of Renewable Energy Sources (RESs) is one of them. Ocean-going marine ships need a large amount of reliable energy to support the propulsive load. Intermittency is one of the drawbacks of RESs, and penetration of RESs in maritime vessels is limited by the cargo carrying capacity and usable area of that ship. Other types of reliable energy sources need to be incorporated in ships to overcome these shortcomings of RESs. Some researchers proposed to integrate fossil fuel-based generators like diesel generators and renewable energy in marine vessels to reduce GHG emissions. As the penetration of RESs in marine ships is limited, fossil fuel-based generators provide most of the energy. Therefore, renewable and fossil fuel-based hybrid energy systems in maritime vessels can not reduce GHG emissions to the desired level. Fossil fuel-based generators need to be replaced by emissions-free energy sources to make marine ships free from emissions. Nuclear energy is emissions-free energy, and small-scale nuclear reactors like Microreactors (MRs) are competent to replace fossil fuel-based generators. In this paper, the technical, environmental, and economic competitiveness of Nuclear-Renewable Hybrid Energy Systems (N-R HES) in marine ships are assessed. The lifecycle cost of MR, reliability of the proposed system, and limitations of integrating renewable energy in maritime vessels are considered in this study. The proposed N-R HES is compared with three different energy systems, namely ‘Standalone Fossil Fuel-based Energy Systems’, ‘Renewable and Fossil Fuel-based Hybrid Energy Systems’, and ‘Standalone Nuclear Energy System’. The cost modeling of each energy system is carried out in MATLAB simulator. Each energy system is optimized by using the Differential Evolution Algorithm (DEA), an artificial intelligence algorithm, to find out the optimal configuration of the system components in terms of Net Present Cost (NPC). The results determine that N-R HES has the lowest NPC compared to the other three energy systems. The performance of the DE algorithm is compared with another widely accepted artificial intelligence optimization technique called ‘Particle Swarm Optimization (PSO)’ to validate the findings of the DE algorithm. The impact of control parameters in the DE algorithm is assessed by employing the Adaptive Differential Evolution (ADE) algorithm. A sensitivity analysis is carried out to assess the impact of different system parameters on this study’s findings. Full article
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Article
Nuclear Hydrogen Production: Modeling and Preliminary Optimization of a Helical Tube Heat Exchanger
Energies 2021, 14(11), 3113; https://doi.org/10.3390/en14113113 - 26 May 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 988
Abstract
Hydrogen production is a topical issue in an energy scenario where decarbonization is a priority, especially with reference to the transport sector that has a great weight on global emissions. Starting from this consideration, GIF (Generation-IV International Forum) investigated the possibility to produce [...] Read more.
Hydrogen production is a topical issue in an energy scenario where decarbonization is a priority, especially with reference to the transport sector that has a great weight on global emissions. Starting from this consideration, GIF (Generation-IV International Forum) investigated the possibility to produce hydrogen by nuclear energy. The “classic” strategy is based on the use of nuclear as energy source for the electrolysis; but on the medium-long term, a more sustainable and smart approach could be founded on the use of thermochemical processes (e.g., I-S) that require a direct coupling of a chemical plant to a nuclear reactor. In order to develop this strategy, it is mandatory to design and optimize all the key components involved in this complex plant. In this study, we developed the 3D-CAD and CFD models of the intermediate heat exchanger (IHX) installed in the Japanese HTTR nuclear power plant. This component is extremely important for both the safety of the two plants and the stability of the whole hydrogen production plant. Initially, our model (developed by AutoCAD 3D and implemented in Star CCM+) was validated on the basis of experimental data available in literature; then, an initial optimization of the IHX testing innovative materials, such as Alloy 617 and ODS–MA754, and a different primary coolant (supercritical CO2) was performed. Full article
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