Natura selects Zachry Nuclear for design of ACU’s molten salt research reactor

August 21, 2023, 7:01AMNuclear News
A conceptual rendering showing a section view of the molten salt research reactor along with supporting systems and a simulator room for training students at Abilene Christian University. (Image: ACU)

Natura Resources of Abilene, Texas, has awarded a contract to Zachry Nuclear Engineering, which has offices in Connecticut and North Carolina, to complete the engineering and design of Natura's 1-MWt molten salt reactor (MSR). The agreement also provides terms under which Zachry may execute the engineering, procurement, and construction phase of the project. The dollar amount of the contract was not disclosed.

The design is expected to be deployed as a research reactor at Abilene Christian University. In August 2022, ACU submitted an application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission seeking approval to construct the reactor. ACU recently completed construction of its Science and Engineering Research Center, a 28,000-square-foot facility that will house, among other things, the MSR.

Noted: “We believe Zachry's track record of excellence in both engineering and construction makes them a great addition to our team and they will help move our MSR project across the finish line as we seek to be one of the first advanced reactor systems to be licensed and built in the U.S.," said Douglass Robison, Natura Resources founder and president.

Research alliance: Natura has partnered with ACU, Texas A&M University, the University of Texas–Austin, and Georgia Institute of Technology to form the Natura Resources Research Alliance, which has as its goal to design, license, and commission the first university-based molten salt research reactor, which ACU will host and own.

Uses: According to Natura, its line of MSRs will provide both electrical and thermal energy for a range of applications that require high-temperature steam or process heat, such as water desalination, chemical/material production, and medical isotopes production.

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