Stuck inside? Brookings Foreign Policy recommends movies and shows to watch

With an estimated 20% of the global population on lockdown related to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us are in search of ways to occupy ourselves online or on our TVs. Here, scholars and staff from across Brookings Foreign Policy recommend feature films, TV shows, and documentaries that can enhance your understanding of the world and of U.S. history — and, of course, that can entertain.

William Burke-White recommends


HBO's ChernobylWhat it’s about: The inside story of the 1986 meltdown of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor in the Soviet Union highlights the dangers of a failed national response to an unexpected catastrophe and the heroism of the individuals who stepped up in time of crisis. The (relatively) accurate period drama brings alive late Soviet politics, showing how a closed, top-down system under-appreciated the magnitude of the disaster and hid it from its own people. As the Chernobyl reactor melts down, the viewer sees the melt-down of the Soviet system itself, leading to the countries’ eventual collapse just a few years later. Yet, in a moment when we need heroes, the mini-series also highlights the incredible ingenuity and bravery of the individuals and groups that responded both during the accident and in the fraught containment and cleanup efforts that followed. The parallels to the challenges and failures of the response to COVID-19 are powerful and informative.

How to watch it: HBO or Amazon Prime

Adrien Chorn recommends

First They Killed My Father (មុនដំបូងខ្មែរក្រហមសម្លាប់ប៉ារបស់ខ្ញុំ)

"First they killed my father"What it’s about: “First They Killed My Father” is an excellent film directed by Angelina Jolie, based on the memoir written by Loung Ung of the same name. The film was released on Netflix in 2017 and depicts the harrowing experience of five-year-old Loung living in Cambodia from the outset of the takeover by the Khmer Rouge on April 17, 1975 through to the period of Vietnam’s invasion of Cambodia in December 1978 and then takeover in January 1979. This film is incredibly important for educating audiences (including the children of Cambodian refugees who still today struggle to discuss this recent traumatic period with their families) of the atrocities and genocide committed by the Khmer Rouge, as well the realities of famine, disease, and overwork in the concentration camps. The film’s actors also give great performances, and its cinematography is beautiful and expressive.

How to watch it: Netflix

Eyal Tsir Cohen recommends

Band of Brothers

"Band of Brothers" imageWhat it’s about: This 10-hour miniseries recounts the chronicles of Easy Company, 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division in the U.S. Army. The story follows them from D-Day till the end of World War II. This almost-documentary is based on powerful interviews with survivors of Easy Company, as well as soldiers’ journals and letters. In this series, we intimately share the experiences of ordinary young men who accomplished extraordinary things under unthinkable duress and gruesome fear. The series outlines beautifully extremely admirable, yet complex, characters such as Lieutenant Richard Winters and Captain Ronald Speirs. Their actions, decisions, and the values they lived by offer exceptional food for thought and a lesson in humility. It was the worst of times, with flashes of humanity at its best. Something to think about in today’s unprecedented times.

How to watch it: Amazon Prime

Samuel Denney recommends

Babylon Berlin

"Babylon Berlin"What it’s about: “Babylon Berlin” is one of the most enjoyable, interesting, and most importantly accessible representations of interwar Germany I’ve seen in quite a long time. Combining a discussion of the legacy of World War I, a noir detective story, increasingly fractured politics, and a vivid depiction of Weimar-era Berlin’s unique and hedonistic cultural milieu, Babylon Berlin has something to offer for both Germany-nerds (read: me, who once wrote a thesis on Weimar-era literature) and casual viewers drawn to an under-explored time period. And for those who have visited Berlin, the fact that the show is filmed largely in the city adds another draw as you watch the show’s cast traverse its streets and neighborhoods.

How to watch it: Netflix

James Haynes recommends

The Farewell

"The Farewell"What it’s about: “The Farewell” depicts a family gathering, ostensibly for a wedding in China, but actually for a final reunion before the death of the grandmother and family matriarch (who isn’t told the truth about her health situation or the reason for the gathering). The story is based on director Lulu Wang’s own experience, initially shared in a radio story on This American Life. Nominated for two Golden Globes, The Farewell” made President Obama’s 2019 list of favorite films. Among the film’s highlights include Zhao Shu-zhen’s portrayal of the grandmother, the visual depictions of hospitals, banquet halls, and apartments in a mid-tier Chinese city, and the too-brief scene where Chinese family members who emigrated to the U.S. and those who stayed on the mainland argue about the future of the U.S. and China. For those looking for an accessible film on U.S.-China issues (that isn’t very political), The Farewell” deserves a watch.

How to watch it: Amazon, Google Play, and Vudu for rent or purchase (subtitled)

Scarlett Ho recommends

The Man Who Cracked the Nazi Code

"The Man Who Cracked the Nazi Code"What it’s about: “The Man Who Cracked the Nazi Code” is a documentary by Denis van Waerebeke. It tells the story of Alan Turing, a brilliant British mathematician, who contributed to the Allied success in World War II by ciphering Nazi Germany’s “Enigma” encryption machine. Amidst today’s global panic and fight against COVID-19, this remarkable story provides grounds for much-needed optimism and inspiration. This short documentary combines themes of humanity and chaos with scientific reason and logic. It also demonstrates how solidarity and the coming together of human minds can overcome a united threat that transcends borders. Lastly, viewers can also get a deeper understanding of the genesis of modern-day computing and artificial intelligence, whose discovery can be traced back to Turing, the father of modern computing.

How to watch it: Amazon Prime

Robert Kagan recommends

Casablanca/To Have and Have Not Bogey Double Feature

"To Have and Have Not" and "Casablanca" movie postersWhat it’s about: “Casablanca” is not a love story. No one is in love. It is a geopolitical romance about America’s relationship with Europe and the evolving American foreign policy character. Every person in the movie represents a country — except Ingrid Bergman, who plays Europe to Bogart’s America. Watch it with that in mind. “To Have and Have Not” is a much, much better movie but with the same general message. I know, you’ve seen them. Watch again! These films will make your day. Documentaries will not.

How to watch it: Amazon Prime

Emilie Kimball recommends

The Spy

"The Spy"What it’s about: “The Spy” chronicles the true story of Eli Cohen, a Mossad (Israel’s intelligence agency) operative who infiltrated Syria’s political and military community. Eli is played by Sacha Baron Cohen — a welcome reversal away from the comedy the actor is largely known for. The series delivers a satisfying espionage tale along with some history, as you watch Cohen establish a relationship with Colonel Amin al-Hafez, who eventually goes on to become Syria’s president. Viewers also see Eli Cohen touring the Syrian regime’s military infrastructure at the Golan Heights which Israel would go on to capture during the Six-Day War in 1967.

How to watch it: Netflix

Caroline Klaff recommends


"Miracle" posterWhat it’s about: My favorite movie, “Miracle,” chronicles the real-life story of the 1980 U.S. men’s Olympic hockey team. It’s a film that you may be familiar with, but should watch again (and again, and again…). “Miracle” taps into the American Cold War mentality and the politicization of international sports competitions by layering engaging interpersonal stories, hometown rivalries, and arguably the greatest locker room speech of all time, against a backdrop of domestic social and economic malaise and geopolitical antagonism. From a foreign policy perspective, the movie puts the importance of the “miracle on ice” into context. By rooting the film amid U.S.-Soviet tensions, splicing in segments of President Jimmy Carter’s “crisis of confidence” speech and footage of the Iran hostage crisis, and highlighting the uncertainty of Olympic boycotts, “Miracle” underscores why the American victory was such a boost to the nation then, just as this feel-good movie can be a boost to us now.

How to watch it: Netflix

Jesse I. Kornbluth recommends

The Motorcycle Diaries

"Motorcycle Diaries"What it’s about: On a motorcycle journey up the spine of the Andes and through the heart of the Amazon, a young middle-class medical student from Rosario, Argentina, Ernesto Guevara, is exposed to the immeasurable inequality on his home continent. Throughout the journey with his friend and “co-pilot,” Alberto Granado, the pair come face to face with the exploitation of the continent’s indigenous and marginalized peoples and its natural resources at the hands of corrupt political systems and foreign capitalist endeavors. It is over this road trip that Ernesto begins to develop the identity that will lead him to become the Marxist revolutionary, “Che” Guevara. “The Motorcycle Diaries” is a visually and emotionally captivating coming-of-age film and a thought-provoking view into the politics of inequality in South America. Ideal for a quarantine, it is a film of magnificent views — of breathtaking landscapes and the vibrant and diverse mestizo cultures of South America.

How to watch it: Rent on Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Google Play, Apple iTunes

Filippos Letsas recommends


"Quantico"What it’s about: The drama thriller TV series “Quantico” exposes the lives of young FBI recruits training at the Quantico base in Virginia when one of them becomes a prime suspect in a terrorist attack on Grand Central Terminal. The story shifts between the present day (the quest to find the suspect) and the past (the training at the academy, during which recruits’ complex personal stories and tangled relationships are revealed). Some viewers are captivated by the fast-paced, intricate, and suspenseful plot; critics claim that the story line is out of touch with reality. No matter which camp you might fall into, the show’s character-driven narrative will put on full display the strikingly diverse set of motives driving young people to work in law enforcement, to conduct sensitive national security investigations, and to become public servants. It may even kick up enough adrenaline for you to pursue a career as a FBI agent.

How to watch it: Netflix

Michael O’Hanlon recommends

The Interview

"The Interview"What it’s about: This movie actually produced a diplomatic crisis. At the time of its completion, back in 2014, North Korea carried out massive cyberattacks against SONY, which distributed the film, and threatened any movie theaters that might show it. The movie mocked the young North Korean strongman Kim Jong Un about three years into his rule, and also pilloried the North Korean state, including for the horrible treatment of its own people. As mediocre as it may have been artistically, it clearly struck a nerve in Pyongyang. And I sort of liked it, I have to admit, for the comedic value and for how it (not completely inaccurately) portrayed North Korean life. I may be alone in the Brookings Foreign Policy program in recommending this movie, however!

How to watch it: Netflix

Ted Reinert recommends


"Atlantics" posterWhat it’s about: Young African men tired of stark inequality at home braving a sea crossing in hopes of making a better living in Europe form the backdrop for Mati Diop’s Senegal-set feature directorial debut. But the film stays on the coast with the young women left behind — and some supernatural developments. “Atlantics” is a fascinating piece of storytelling, and I look forward to Diop’s next film. In the meantime, her earlier shorts are being featured on the Criterion Channel (easily the best streaming service for cinephiles, so please subscribe if you don’t already).

How to watch it: Netflix

Bruce Riedel recommends

Charlie Wilson’s War

What it’s about: The 2007 movie about America’s secret war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan gets the most important part of the war right: the central and crucial role of Pakistan, and especially its dictator, Zia ul Huq. It was really Zia’s war. The CIA provided aid to Zia, he decided who got it, and he favored the most extreme Islamists. Much of the rest of the movie is either fiction (Israel did not help the war effort) or exaggerated (Congressman Wilson was far less important than President Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan in determining American strategy). It’s a great movie which gets the most important history right and played an important role after 9/11 in helping Americans understand Afghanistan, now its longest war.

How to watch it: Rent or purchase on Amazon

Frank Rose recommends

The World at War

"The World at War"What it’s about: “The World at War,” produced by Jeremy Issacs, remains the definitive documentary of World War II. Filmed in the early 1970s, the program features interviews with key political and military leaders from the war (on both the Axis and Allied sides) as well as ordinary people. I have viewed the series numerous times over the past 30 years, and have always learned some new and interesting fact each time I have watched it.

How to watch it: YouTube

Israa Saber recommends


"Capernum" posterWhat it’s about: Focusing on 12-year-old Zain who’s suing his parents for giving him life, “Capernaum” uses flashbacks to provide an intimate glimpse into life for Lebanon’s most vulnerable. Though the film focuses on the difficulties children face, especially those born in poverty, and the rights society owes them, the film also highlights the refugee and migrant struggle in Lebanon. Lebanon hosts the most refugees per capita in the world, a result of the Syrian civil war, and has struggled economically, socially, and politically under the strains of this influx. “Capernaum” also sheds light on other social issues such as human trafficking, child marriage, misogyny, and official indifference, depicting how entangled they all are. The film is at times difficult to watch but its occasional dark humor and Zain’s streetwise antics help blunt the emotional toll it takes on the viewer. I’d highly recommend you give this film your time and undivided attention.

How to watch it: Amazon Prime

Suzanne Schaefer recommends

The Expanse

"The Expanse"What it’s about: “The Expanse” is a science fiction drama that is set hundreds of years into the future when humanity has colonized space and where political tensions are high between Earth (ruled by the United Nations), the Martian Congressional Republic on Mars, and the Outer Planets Alliance (the OPA). In the midst of this galactic feud over power and resources, the viewer is taken aboard the Rocinante, whose crew — brought together by circumstance — pulls at the thread of an unprecedented and dark discovery. “The Expanse” is both a detective thriller and political spectacle that explores the themes of diplomacy, governance, technology, exploration, the human condition, and even involves a brewing pandemic. Sure to satisfy any connoisseur of foreign affairs, it is a complex drama that expertly entertains while making you ponder the world as you know it and the distant future of foreign policy.

How to watch it: Amazon Prime

Rachel Slattery recommends

Atomic Blonde

"Atomic Blonde"What it’s about: If you’ve read Constanze Stelzenmüller’s excellent essay, “German lessons,” you’ll know how pivotal the fall of the Berlin Wall was for how Germany views its place in the world. Well, “Atomic Blonde” is a different kind of Berlin Wall story. Based on a comic book, the movie follows MI-6 operative Lorraine Broughton (played by Charlize Theron) as she navigates a divided Berlin in search of a mole in the intelligence community before the wall falls. Featuring head-bopping iconic 80s tunes and kick-ass fight scenes, this spy thriller will have you ready to fight the KGB too.

How to watch it: Hulu, or you can rent from Amazon or Vudu

Amanda Sloat recommends


"Occupied" posterWhat it’s about: “Occupied” is a Norwegian show, with three seasons currently available. Set in the near future, Middle East turmoil and U.S. withdrawal from NATO triggers an energy crisis. The Green Party takes power, led by an idealistic prime minister who cuts off fossil fuel production in the hopes of developing thorium-based nuclear power as an alternative. A desperate European Union acquiesces to a Russian-led invasion and soft occupation of Norway. As viewers are sitting at home during the coronavirus pandemic, “Occupied” provides interesting food for thought about future scenarios that could confront the trans-Atlantic relationship.

How to watch it: Netflix

Tom Stefanick recommends

The Best Years of Our Lives

"The Best Years of our Lives"What it’s about: I collaborated on this pick with my friend Murray Biggs, a semi-retired associate professor of English and theater at Yale who has lectured on “The Cinema of War” there and at West Point. Released in 1946, “The Best Years of Our Lives” remains an American classic. Winner of numerous Oscars and other awards, with black-and-white cinematography by the innovative Gregg Toland, and running at nearly three hours, the film depicts in painful detail the social difficulties of returning veterans seeking to resume a normal place in mainstream American life. Not quite a documentary, the movie nevertheless brings home the everyday experience of those trying to adjust to civilian routine after years of acutely disruptive military service abroad. It includes a brief scene in which someone asserts that the United States made a mistake in going to war. He is promptly knocked out.

How to watch it: Netflix

Constanze Stelzenmüller recommends

The Loved One

"The Loved One" posterWhat it’s about: On the principle of confronting one’s worst fears head-on in grim times, I emphatically recommend the undeservedly obscure “The Loved One,” an absolutely-nothing-is-sacred 1965 black-and-white satire of the American funeral industry based on books by Evelyn Waugh and Jessica Mitford, with a screenplay by Terry Southern and Christopher Isherwood. If that’s not enough to make you drop everything, consider the stars: Robert Morse, Jonathan Winters, John Gielgud, Robert Morley, Roddy McDowall, James Coburn, Rod Steiger, Milton Berle, Tab Hunter, and — wait for it — Liberace as a funeral director at the “Whispering Glades” cemetery and mortuary. But Anjanette Comer playing an embalmer named “Aimée Thanatogenos” alone is worth the price of admission. What are you waiting for?

How to watch it: Apple iTunes

Update on Copenhagen Atomics Molten Salt Fission From CTO

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Four Noteworthy Technology Trends To Watch In The Next Five Years

So much of a CEO’s time and mental energy is devoted to running a company and staying up to date on their specific industry.

But if you’re like me, you tend to have a diverse set of interests. Our team is in logistics, but I’ve always been interested in a wide variety of science and tech-related subjects. Here are four of the technology trends I’ve had my eye on lately:

1. Mobility As A Service

We’ve begun the slow transition away from car ownership, especially in crowded, growing cities.

Companies are working on self-driving taxis. Ridesharing apps make it more convenient to hail a ride, and are focusing heavily on their own self-driving technology, as well. Once self-driving cars become the norm, there will be even less incentive for people to own a vehicle.

At that point, mobility as a service will have a strong presence. It will likely be best for small to midsized cities that lack strong public transportation and dense city centers. In cities with concentrated populations, public transportation will still be the best option for most people because the roads simply aren’t built to handle an increase in traffic.

Regardless, autonomous vehicles have arrived. It’s now just a matter of seeing how quickly these new methods of mobility will be integrated into our daily lives, and how entrepreneurs can best adapt to this new environment. Paradigms like service stations will change: Today they’re hubs for not just fuel, but food and more, but it remains to be seen how self-driving systems will change this entire business model.

2. Improved Biologic Drugs

A variety of stories in the news lately have been about breakthrough treatments that use gene therapy or monoclonal antibodies (mAB) to cure diseases. The catch is that these drugs are customized for a single patient.

In the case of mABs, immune cells are extracted, modified, grown in a lab animal, extracted from that animal, and finally put back into the patient’s body. Through this process, the immune cells are customized to better fight whatever illness the patient has. Currently, mAB drugs are good for treating autoimmune disorders, but they’ve also shown a lot of promise in fighting cancer.

And because these therapies are specific to one individual, they’re also incredibly expensive. Price tags can range anywhere from $250,000 to $2 million for treatment. The hurdle here is simply figuring out how to pay for it, whether the money’s coming from insurance companies, the government or some combination thereof.

Still, the efficacy of these treatments will make them hard to ignore in the coming years, for patients, medical professionals, investors and entrepreneurs alike.

3. Advanced Nuclear Power Plants

Nuclear power comes with a well-known stigma: It’s too dangerous for widespread use. However, by and large, the nuclear industry is safe. Countries like France, which gets 75% of its power from nuclear plants, can attest to that.

Usually, the other sticking point for detractors is the waste produced by nuclear plants. But there are promising developments in the use of thorium, rather than uranium, in nuclear power. A liquid fluoride thorium reactor (LFTR) is even safer than current reactors. It can’t melt down because the reaction automatically stops if the reactor gets too hot. Thorium is more abundant than uranium, and, critically, the waste produced from thorium is less radioactive, has a shorter half-life, is not weaponizable and does not include plutonium, which can be used to create a bomb.

As the world looks for sources of electricity that don’t emit CO2, we may see more progress in developing advanced nuclear reactors that use thorium. Startups are entering this space once again, backed by major institutions and even the likes of Bill Gates, and clean energy as a service is only just beginning.

4. Blockchain In Government

Blockchain has been pegged as the technology of the future — a system with almost unlimited uses. As with any new tech, some of the hype is bound to be unfounded.

Blockchain has many legitimate uses, however, and governments will likely begin exploring them in the next few years. Specifically, federal and local governments may be able to use blockchain to produce digital identities and secure voting in elections.

Digital identities are a good way to meet in the middle when it comes to the voter ID debate. Republicans want to eliminate voter fraud in our elections. Democrats insist that voter ID laws lead to discrimination and voter disenfranchisement. Digital identities on a blockchain can help bridge that gap by allowing for secure, immutable voting records.

In fact, the Swiss city of Zug has already held the first test of a local, blockchain-based voting platform. Using digital IDs, residents who signed up were able to cast votes during the platform’s trial run. And by all reports, the project was a success, hopefully leading the way toward immutable, traceable voting records in larger elections around the world. The Iowa Caucus disaster is a good example that change is needed, and entrepreneurs should be ready to explore B2G Blockchains even further.

It’s clear we live in an age of rapid technological change. While five years may not seem like a long time, consider that it’s been that long since the Apple Watch was first announced. So, it’s always a good idea to have a sense of where technology trends might be headed, even if they aren’t in your specialty. You never know what innovation may cross industry lines.

Update on Copenhagen Atomics Molten Salt Fission From CTO

Aslak Stubsgaard, CTO of Copenhagen Atomics provided an update to Nextbigfuture on their development of a Molten Salt nuclear fission reactor. They are a molten salt reactor company developing a 100MW(th) thorium molten salt reactors with an initial load plutonium from spent fuel. The reactors are designed to be roughly the size of a 40-foot shipping container and can be produced on an assembly line at low cost and scalable.

The goal is a walkaway safe reactor that is mass produced in a shipping container form factor.

They have chosen to validate a paper design through regulator pre-approval stages without building anything.

In 2019, they received two major danish grants. Copenhagen Atomics partnered with Alfa Laval who are one of the world’s leading heat exchanger producers and moved a majority of their lab facilities to Alfa Laval’s site in Copenhagen.

They are building pumped molten salt reactor loops, capable of pumping 700C fluoride/chloride salt. Copenhagen Atomics will soon open up for a public investment round.

Above, you see the molten salt loops currently under construction, in Alfa Laval’s production facility.

Let Brian Wang know if you have questions in the comments here. Aslak will be contacted and answers will be placed into follow up articles.

Walk-away Safe Shipping Container Reactor

The Copenhagen Atomics waste burner version 0.2.3 is a 50 MW(t) heavy water moderated, single fluid, fluoride salt-based, thermal spectrum, molten salt reactor. Copenhagen Atomics Waste Burner 2.0 and above versions are expected to be breeder and converter type designs, breeding more fissile material than consumed while converting fissile transuranic from existing uranium cycle waste to start a thorium-based cycle. The core, fission product extraction and separation systems, dump tank, primary heat exchanger, pumps, valves, and compressors are all contained in a leak-tight 40-foot shipping container surrounded by a shielding blanket of frozen thorium salt.

Target Application
The following applications are foreseen:
– Addon units at existing nuclear sites, coupled with a spent nuclear fuel reprocessing unit.
– Ship or barge-based power systems.
– Biofuel production and desalination plants.
– Baseload power in Asia and Africa.
The reactor design effort is focussed on a small modular thorium breeder thermal spectrum fluoride molten salt reactor, made to fit inside a 40-foot shipping container and with an initial fissile inventory made up of spent nuclear fuel transuranic.

They have moved beyond the conceptual stage to building and testing key components. The IAEA 2018 SMR book has details on this and all other Small Modular Reactor projects.

SOURCES- Copenhagen Atomics CTO Aslak Stubsgaard
Written By Brian Wang,

Nuclear Energy Projects Move Ahead Despite Global Virus Threat

  • Canadian Partnership Announces SMR Fuel Research
  • Rolls-Royce and Turkey’s EUAS  Plan Joint SMR Construction Effort
  • NRC Issues Draft EIA For Holtec Spent Fuel Facility In New Mexico
  • Indonesia Dusts Off Plans for Nuclear Energy
  • IAEA Addresses Safety of Smart Devices in Nuclear Power Plants

Canadian Partnership Announces SMR Fuel Research

cnl2.logo(WNN) Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) has agreed to collaborate with USNC-Power, a subsidiary of Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC), on research in support of USNC’s Micro Modular Reactor(MMR). The project will include exploring the feasibility of siting a reactor component manufacturing facility for USNC’s fuel at CNL’s Chalk River campus.

The project, which is funded through CNL’s Canadian Nuclear Research Initiative (CNRI), will include research related to the manufacturing of USNC’s proprietary Fully Ceramic Microencapsulate (FCM) fuel, the design of an irradiation program for the reactor’s graphite core, and the establishment of a laboratory for fuel analysis at Chalk River.

It will also include the development of a multi-year testing program to support the validation of USNC’s fuel and core as they progress through the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s vendor design review process.

CNL President and CEO Mark Lesinski said the agreement with USNC-Power represented a step forward in pursuit of the organization’s goal of making the “next generation” of nuclear reactors a reality. ”

“Based on our ongoing dialogue with SMR vendors, it’s clear that there is a need for increased access to our expertise and facilities to support SMR research and development. The CNRI program is intended to fill this void.”

The MMR features a core of hexagonal graphite blocks containing stacks of FCM fuel TRISO type pellets, which USNC says has a low power density and a high heat capacity resulting in very slow and predictable temperature changes. The helium-cooled reactor is fueled once for its 20-year lifetime.

USNC CEO Francesco Venneri said the joint research will be “an important next step in validating our approach to SMR reactor and fuel design”.

The agreement with USNC is the first under the annual CNRI program, launched by CNL in 2019 to accelerate the deployment of SMRs in Canada by enabling R&D and connecting the SMR industry with the facilities and expertise within Canada’s national nuclear laboratories. The agreement includes CAD1.5 million (USD$1.1 million) of in-kind contributions from CNL for the project and will be completed by the spring of 2021.

CNL has identified SMRs as one of eight strategic initiatives it is pursuing as part of its long-term strategy, with the goal of siting an SMR by 2026. At present four proponents are engaged in a four-stage invitation process launched in in 2018 to evaluate the construction and operation of a demonstration SMR at a CNL site.

  • U-Battery Canada Ltd, with a design for a 4 MW high-temperature gas reactor;
  • StarCore Nuclear, with a proposed 14 MW high-temperature gas reactor; and
  • Terrestrial Energy, with a 190 MW integral molten salt reactor, have all completed the first stage of the process.
  • Global First Power, with a proposal for a 5 MW MMR supported by USNC and Ontario Power Generation, has completed the first two stages and begun the third stage.

Rolls-Royce and Turkey’s EUAS  Plan Joint SMR Construction Effort

rolls royve logo(NucNet) The companies plan to look at market potential for small modular nuclear plant.

Rolls-Royce and Turkey’s state-owned electricity generation company EUAS have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to carry out a study to evaluate the possibility of building small modular reactors in Turkey.

Rolls-Royce said the two companies would evaluate the technical, economical and legal aspects of SMR construction. They will also look into the joint production of SMRs. Rolls Royce has recently rolled out plans for a 440 MW PWR, but SMRs are usually considered to have power ratings of 300MW or less.

The agreement, which Rolls-Royce has signed in its role as a member of a consortium designing an SMR, said the agreement commits to a study that will look at market potential for the plant in Turkey and for global markets.

EUAS chief executive officer Yahya Yılmaz Bayraktarlı said Turkey wants to diversify electricity resources with nuclear power. His cautious statement may indicate that the MOU is the first step in a long journey to a deal.

“The feasibility of small modular reactors is a research and development issue we continuously monitor.”

The consortium which is designing the power station comprises Rolls-Royce, Assystem, Atkins, BAM Nuttall, Laing O’Rourke, National Nuclear Laboratory, Jacobs, The Welding Institute and Nuclear AMRC.

Components for the Rolls-Royce SMR would be manufactured in standardized sections in factories, before being transported to sites for rapid assembly inside a weatherproof canopy. The result is lower upfront costs, and a faster, predictable construction and commissioning periods

Status of Turkey’s Commercial Nuclear Program

Turkey has begun construction of its first commercial nuclear station at Akkuyu. It will have four Russian Generation III+ 1,200-MW VVER units, with the first expected to come online in 2023 and a further unit starting every year afterwards.

Rosatom, the Russian export agency funding the project, has been seeking investors for Turkey’s 50% share of the project. So far several potential deals have fallen through.

A second site proposed for the Sinop site on Turkey’s Black Sea Coast was abandoned by its Japanese investors in December 2018.  According to a Reuters report, escalating costs, and the unproven nature of the 1100 MW ATMEA PWR, were the reasons for the decision.

Plans for a third site remain in the talking stage although a general location has been selected by Turkey’s energy ministry.  The Igneada site is located on Turkey’s Kirklareli Peninsula about 12 miles from the border with Bulgaria. China is reported to be proposing to build two CAP1400 PWRs there, but little progress has been made on the project since it was announced four years ago.

NRC Issues Draft EIA For Holtec Spent Fuel Facility

(NucNet) Holtec International is planning to build an underground fuel storage facility called Hi-Store in southeastern New Mexico. Holtec International and its partner, the Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance (ELEA), decided to establish the facility on land owned by ELEA in 2015.

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued a draft environmental impact statement for a proposed consolidated interim storage facility in New Mexico.

The draft statement includes the NRC staff’s preliminary recommendation that there are no environmental impacts that would preclude the NRC from issuing a license for environmental reasons.

Holtec said the Hi-Store project will provide a significant step on the path to the federal government’s long-standing obligation for disposition of used nuclear fuel by providing a centralized facility for storage of used nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste until such time that a permanent solution is available.

The initial application for the Hi-Store facility includes storage of up to 8,680 tonnes of uranium in commercial used fuel (500 canisters) with future amendments for up to 10,000 storage canisters total.

Holtec said the US has more than 80,000 tonnes of used nuclear fuel in storage and more is being generated at a rate of 2,000 tonnes a year.

In a separate effort, Interim Storage Partners, which is developing a similar site in Andrews, TX, says on its website it expects an NRC license for it in 2021.

Indonesia Dusts Off Plans for Nuclear Energy

(Wire Service Reports) According to trade press and English language media in Indonesia, the country is said to be considering updating its plans to building one or more nuclear energy power plants.  Over the years several vendors have approached the government with proposals, but so far no commitments have been made.

State utility Perusahaan Listrik Negara and US nuclear energy startup ThorCon International reportedly planned a preliminary study for the $1.2 billion development of a 500 MW reactor that uses thorium rather than uranium.  Russia has also proposed to build 1000 MW VVER type reactors and China has proposed a high temperature gas cooled reactor with a power rating of approximately 250 MW.

Recently, Indonesia’s parliament has begun consideration of a bill has omnibus bill to encourage private sector investment in nuclear energy. According to media reports the legislation has the support of Indonesia President Joko Widodo.

The legislation loosens requirements for the private sector to pursue nuclear power projects especially in the area of getting permits from the government.

IAEA Addresses Safety of Smart Devices in Nuclear Power Plants

(WNN) The safety of smart digital devices used in nuclear power plants – some of which were not initially designed for nuclear-related purposes – was discussed last month at a meeting in Vienna organized by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The objective of the meeting was to establish guidance on the selection and evaluation of smart devices to be used in systems important to the safety of power plants.

Smart digital devices such as smart sensor transmitters, electrical protective devices, and variable speed drives, are increasingly used at many nuclear power plants. Old and obsolete equipment in power plants is often replaced with smart devices

These devices are connected to other devices or networks via different communication protocols and are able to operate to some extent interactively and autonomously. This can include devices with artificial intelligence software.

However, the nuclear market is too small for the development of customized smart devices specifically for power plants. Adaptation is key. Operators are turning to devices initially developed for other market segments and certified by non-nuclear authorities. The result is that they may require extra reviews to be used for nuclear power plants.

“Smart devices can be used in equipment or systems to increase nuclear power plant safety and reliability, enhance safe operation or improve various functions,” said Alexander Duchac, nuclear safety officer at the IAEA.

“However, if not properly selected and qualified, they may potentially introduce new hazards, vulnerabilities, and failure modes. It’s a potential issue for both operating and new nuclear power reactors.”

However, regulators do not normally have access to the design information of equipment to make an informed decision on the devices’ safety.

The equipment qualification is very often almost impossible without cooperation from the vendor, who tends to protect the intellectual property of commercial development processes. Moreover, operators often lack guidance on how to provide sufficient information to the regulator under such circumstances

The IAEA plans to produce its first safety report on the use of smart devices, which will be published later this year. The report intends to provide a common technical basis for all countries. It will contain a model of how to design, select and evaluate candidate smart devices for their safe use in nuclear safety systems, including instrumentation and control, electrical, mechanical and other areas.

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