Supplier contracts for Natrium project awarded

August 2, 2023, 3:00PMNuclear News
An artist’s rendering of Natrium. (Image: TerraPower)

Advanced nuclear technology firm TerraPower announced today the selection of four suppliers to support its Natrium reactor demonstration project, in development near a retiring coal plant in Kemmerer, Wyo.

“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, TerraPower senior vice president and director of the Natrium project. “The commercialization 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.”

Supplier support: Following are the new Natrium contractors:

  • Western Service Corporation will provide the software platform and engineering services for the Natrium engineering simulator, being developed by TerraPower to simulate normal operation and plant protective functions. According to the announcement, the complexity of advanced reactor designs requires simulation-assisted engineering (SAE), an approach that offers opportunities to integrate system functions and perform virtual commissioning during early stages. Development of an engineering simulator, which adopts detailed modeling and sophisticated computation, is a key component of the SAE approach, TerraPower added.
  • James Fisher Technologies is designing and building 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.
  • BWXT Canada Ltd. will design the intermediate heat exchanger, a critical component that transfers heat from the primary sodium in the primary heat transport system to the intermediate sodium in the intermediate heat transport system, TerraPower noted.
  • Curtiss-Wright Flow Control Service LLC (doing business as Curtiss-Wright Nuclear Division) will develop the project’s reactor protection system (RPS), which performs important safety functions in accordance with regulatory requirements, according to TerraPower. “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,” the announcement added.

Background: The Natrium reactor demonstration project, a collaboration between TerraPower and GE Hitachi, is a 345-MW sodium-cooled fast reactor design with a molten salt–based energy storage system. The demonstration plant is intended to validate the design, construction, and operational features of Natrium technology. It is one of two advanced reactor demonstration projects selected for competitive funding by the Department of Energy. Separately, TerraPower also received $1.6 billion in funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law signed by President Biden in November 2022, which is to be used to ensure the completion of the plant. The company also raised over $830 million in private funding in 2022.

Last December, TerraPower announced that it was pushing back the start date of the reactor by a minimum of two years. The company had originally hoped to use Russian-supplied high-assay low-enriched uranium, aka HALEU, fuel to get the demonstration unit up and running by 2028, but Russia’s invasion of Ukraine quashed those plans.

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