TerraPower selects suppliers for Natrium demo project

02 August 2023

TerraPower has awarded contracts to four companies to supply services and equipment for the Natrium reactor demonstration project being developed in Kemmerer, Wyoming.

A rendering of a Natrium plant (Image: TerraPower)

The Natrium demonstration plant project features a 345 MWe sodium-cooled fast reactor with a molten salt-based energy storage system. The storage technology can temporarily boost the system's output to 500 MWe when needed, enabling the plant to follow daily electric load changes and integrate seamlessly with fluctuating renewable resources.

In November 2021, Kemmerer was selected as the preferred site for the demonstration project. The location is near the coal-fired Naughton power plant, which is due to retire in 2025, and was chosen after an extensive evaluation process and meetings with community members and leaders.

TerraPower - a company largely funded by Microsoft founder Bill Gates - has now selected four suppliers to support the Natrium demonstration project.

Western Service Corporation (WSC) has been contracted to provide the software platform and engineering services for the Natrium engineering simulator, which TerraPower is developing to simulate normal operation and plant protective functions, and WSC will provide services central to its development.

James Fisher Technologies will design and build an injection casting furnace system that will be implemented in TerraPower's Everett laboratory and will demonstrate the basic functionality of the injection casting process.

Meanwhile, BWXT Canada Ltd will design the intermediate heat exchanger for the Natrium reactor demonstration project, a critical component which transfers heat from the primary sodium in the primary heat transport system to the intermediate sodium in the intermediate heat transport system.

Curtiss-Wright Flow Control Service LLC has been contracted to develop the reactor protection system (RPS) for the demonstration project. The RPS performs important safety functions in accordance with regulatory requirements. TerraPower said this contract follows a phased approach including provision of a prototype system, planning and engineering support, prior to the detailed design, manufacture, testing and delivery of the RPS.

"Throughout the process of bringing the Natrium Reactor and Energy Storage System to market, we have found that working with a diverse supply chain strengthens our ability to deliver a cutting-edge technology," said Tara Neider, Senior Vice President and Project Director for the Natrium Reactor Demonstration Project. "The commercialisation of advanced reactors relies on the support of experts from various industries, and we look forward to collaborating with these suppliers to build the Natrium reactor."

TerraPower noted the process of awarding contracts for the project was ongoing and it will continue to provide updates as additional contracts are awarded.

In December last year, TerraPower said it expected operation of the Natrium demonstration reactor to be delayed by at least two years because there will not be sufficient commercial capacity to manufacture high-assay, low-enriched uranium (HALEU) fuel in time to meet the proposed 2028 in-service date.

However, last month TerraPower and Centrus Energy Corp signed a memorandum of understanding to significantly expand their collaboration aimed at establishing commercial-scale, US production capabilities for HALEU to supply TerraPower's first-of-a-kind Natrium reactor and energy storage system.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News