Nuclear Politics

US / Nuclear Nominee Plans To Preserve Existing Fleet, Deploy Advanced Reactor Technologies

By David Dalton
22 March 2022

Kathryn Huff also addressed impact of Russian invasion of Ukraine
Nuclear Nominee Plans To Preserve Existing Fleet, Deploy Advanced Reactor Technologies
Ms Huff addressed a number of topics including the existing nuclear fleet and new reactor technologies. Courtesy US Senate/DOE.
Kathryn Huff told a Senate energy and natural resources committee hearing that if she is confirmed to head the Department of Energy’s office of nuclear energy she will prioritise activities to preserve the existing fleet of nuclear power plants, deploy advanced reactor technologies, manage spent nuclear fuel and work with international partners to support technological transfer and American innovation.

During the hearing’s question-and-answer portion, Ms Huff addressed a number of topics, including investment in domestic uranium conversion and enrichment infrastructure to eliminate US dependence on Russia for nuclear fuel.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine, she said, “puts into stark contrast the importance of our energy security. I completely agree that we need to build out the capacity for a Western alternative to the Russian component of the uranium market, including conversion and enrichment capacity.

“I do believe that a solution to not only the current fleet’s needs for uranium but also to Haleu [high-assay low-enriched uranium] for our advanced reactor fleet can be found with sufficient support from appropriations and direction from DOE.”

President Joe Biden selected Ms Huff to fill the top spot at the office of nuclear energy in January. She joined the DOE in May 2021 as principal deputy assistant secretary for nuclear energy, going on unpaid leave from her position as associate professor in the department of nuclear, plasma, and radiological engineering at the University of Illinois, where she led the advanced reactors and fuel cycles research group.

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