News and Notes

HALEU Fuel, Grid, and WTE Cooling System Projects Featured in Power News and Notes (Aug. 30, 2023)

A number of companies with ties to the power industry revealed new projects and other interesting developments this week. The following are some the more noteworthy announcements that POWER has been monitoring.

BWXT to Manufacture HALEU Feedstock for Advanced Reactors

BWX Technologies Inc. announced on Aug. 30 that it had entered into a contract to process thousands of kilograms of government-owned scrap material containing enriched uranium that is unusable in its present form in order to produce more than two metric tons of feedstock that can be used for the production of high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) fuel. BWXT Nuclear Operations Group Inc. will conduct the project at its facilities located near Lynchburg, Virginia. The initial award will total $47 million, with a total contract value of up to $116.5 million, subject to annual congressional appropriations, the company said.

“We are proud to partner with BWXT on this important initiative. The project will clear over two metric tons of scrap material from the Y-12 National Security Complex, contributing to ongoing efforts to reduce the material accountability and inventory totals at the site, while also supporting the Department’s advanced reactor demonstration projects,” said Jeff Chamberlin, assistant deputy administrator for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration’s Office of Material Management and Minimization.

“We see tremendous value in partnering with the National Nuclear Security Administration and the U.S. Department of Energy in support of their clean energy programs,” said Sharon Smoot, president of BWXT Nuclear Operations Group Inc. “Interest in, and demand for, advanced reactors continues to grow for both national security and clean energy applications. One of BWXT’s key roles in moving the nuclear industry forward is leveraging its specialty materials capabilities to support domestic HALEU needs for the next generation of nuclear reactors.”

BWXT expects to produce more than two metric tons of HALEU over the next five years, with several hundred kilograms expected to be available as early as 2024. The final product of the program will be HALEU feedstock in an oxide form at an enrichment level of 19.75%. To support this program, BWXT plans to hire approximately 20 new operators, engineers, and safety personnel at its Lynchburg-area facility.

Avangrid Pilots New Technology to Increase Grid Capacity in New York

Avangrid Inc., a sustainable energy company and part of the Iberdrola Group, announced on Aug. 30 a pilot project with LineVision Inc. designed to unlock additional capacity on its transmission lines for renewable energy in New York state. The project will deploy advanced monitoring for overhead transmission lines in the Hornell, New York, area with the goal of reducing grid congestion by providing real-time data on where additional power can safely flow through the existing transmission infrastructure. The company said this critical data and visibility could aid in linking more renewable energy resources into New York’s electrical grid and would support the state’s clean energy goals.

“Decarbonizing our region and nation will require critical investments in transmission and distribution infrastructure. This pilot project is just one example of how we’re working to modernize the grid and enhance reliability and resiliency across our service areas for our customers,” Pedro Azagra, CEO of Avangrid, said. “We’re proud to be making strategic and critical investments that will enable New York’s climate goals, help mitigate the impacts of climate change and increase access to renewable energy.”

The amount of energy that electric transmission lines can safely carry is variable. Historically, the lines have been operated using “static” line ratings that tell grid operators a lines’ energy capacity based on conservative and fixed values for assumed weather conditions. However, with LineVision’s advanced monitoring, Avangrid will be able to see real-time data, allowing for more flexibility to safely increase the amount of energy flowing through the transmission lines based on current conditions.

The advanced monitoring provides “dynamic” line ratings (DLR), which determine capacity limits of the power lines by combining real-time properties such as sag, temperature, and forecasted weather conditions. This results in more informed grid operations and increased carrying capacity of the transmission lines without needing to make any large grid upgrades.

As part of the project, LineVision will partner with Avangrid’s electric utility operating company New York State Electric & Gas (NYSEG) to install non-contact light detection and ranging (LiDAR) sensors to monitor overhead transmission lines. The sensors will be installed on two of the company’s transmission lines: One runs from Elma (Erie County) to Strykersville (Wyoming County), and the other line runs from Warsaw to Perry (both in Wyoming County). Funding for the project was awarded to Avangrid and LineVision through round two of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s (NYSERDA’s) Future Grid Challenge program.

Babcock & Wilcox Will Supply Cooling System for Waste-to-Energy Facility in the UK

Babcock & Wilcox Enterprises Inc. (B&W) announced on Aug. 30 that its B&W Environmental business segment has been awarded a contract for approximately $9 million to design and supply an air-cooled condenser system for a waste-to-energy facility in the UK. Under the deal, the company will supply a SPIG S.p.A. air-cooled condenser system, which it says provides significant environmental benefits by eliminating cooling water. SPIG air-cooled condensers can be used in nearly any climate and are well-suited for renewable energy applications such as waste-to-energy and biomass-fueled power plants.

“We continue to see a strong market for B&W Environmental’s cooling technologies in Europe, particularly for renewable energy projects,” said Joe Buckler, B&W senior vice president, Clean Energy. “We look forward to delivering this cooling system for our customer and contributing to the development of this clean energy facility.”

SPIG high-efficiency air-cooled condensers are said to be flexible and customizable to a plant’s layout, offer low-noise operation and corrosion resistance, and can operate in extreme temperature conditions. “Customers also benefit from the equipment’s long operating life, minimized downtime, and maximized plant performance and availability,” B&W said.

POWER staff (@POWERmagazine).

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