L&H Industrial and BWXT Advanced Technologies have signed a Joint Development Agreement aimed at deploying microreactors to provide heat and power for industrial users. This collaborative effort will focus on the development and potential deployment of BWXT’s Advanced Nuclear Reactor (BANR) in cogeneration sets starting with Wyoming and its neighbouring states.

This effort is the result of the groundwork laid by the Idaho National Laboratory’s (INL’s) Frontiers Initiative and the Wyoming Energy Authority (WEA) Governor’s Matching Fund project that is helping pave the way for new models of microreactor deployment. In September 2023, BWXT announced a two-phase, two-year contract with WEA to assess the viability of deploying small-scale nuclear reactors in Wyoming.

The new Joint Development Agreement is a testament to the interest of both L&H and BWXT in supporting domestic mining and heavy industries with the affordable energy they need to grow operations while reducing emissions.

For L&H, the agreement opens doors to new technological frontiers, allowing the company to participate in both the supply chain and the development and deployment of advanced nuclear reactors. With over 60 years of service L&H supports industrial customers within Wyoming and beyond, serving the supply chain for coal, oil & gas, wind and hydro.

“Collaborating with BWXT represents a unique opportunity for L&H to lead the way in the nuclear energy supply chain and further develop Evercore Energy, the operational company that will own, operate and lease the energy provided by these groundbreaking cogen sets,” said L&H Industrial President & CEO Mike Wandler

In an interview with Cowboy State Daily,Wandler explained that, while BWXT has its own industrial base to build the reactors, his $111m in annual revenue business wants to take on some of the vendor business from the BWXT, which has a market capitalisation of $8.6bn. “I’ve got plants all over the US and in other countries, and it’s really hard to recreate the culture in Wyoming for manufacturing and repair elsewhere,” Wandler said. “Other places don’t want to do this anymore. They don’t want it in their backyard, and that’s fine. So, let’s do it in Wyoming.”

Evercore Energy was set up in 2023 as a business unit of L&H to build up a nuclear services business from scratch. According to its website: “Our mission is to support humanity by leasing safe, reliable, and competitive energy solutions for the world’s industrial leaders. Ongoing innovation is at our core, and when the next proven technology meets our standards of safety and excellence, you can count on it being added to our offerings.”

Marcio Paes Barreto, Evercore Energy Managing Director noted: “We are look forward to combining our expertise and know-how with BWXT to create the business and financial models that will meet the energy needs, reliability and resiliency of mining and other critical industries in our region.” One of the first things Wandler did after setting up Evercore Energy was to appoint Barreto as managing director to build up the nuclear services business. Barreto was formerly a director of industrial development with the WEA and Wyoming Business Council.

Joe Miller, President of BWXT Advanced Technologies said L&H Industrial and BWXT have developed a strong relationship and have already been working on a project together for the Wyoming Energy Authority. “This next phase in our relationship with L&H Industrial gives us both the opportunity to develop and deploy high temperature gas micro-reactor technology for the mining and heavy industries in and around Wyoming.”

Other industry organisations including WEA and INL have also supported advancing nuclear in the region. “The State of Wyoming is a leader in forging innovative partnerships and business frameworks to help secure the nation’s energy future and enhance the state’s economy. INL’s Frontiers Initiative is pleased to be a part of this effort and looks forward to a continued collaboration,” said Dr Steven Aumeier, senior advisor for strategic programmes at INL.

According to WEA Executive Director Rob Creager: “We have always known that the opportunity to create a nuclear industry in Wyoming wasn’t just about producing more energy but bringing the entire supply chain of the industry to our state – energy produced in Wyoming with components made in Wyoming. L&H has been producing and manufacturing critical solutions to our energy industry for decades and is a natural fit to work with BWXT. We support their effort to continue to produce reliable, affordable energy while providing jobs for our Wyoming workforce.”

According to the BWXT website, the BANR project “is developing a modular, factory-fabricated system that is small and light enough to be transported via rail, ship or truck and that can deliver 50 MW of thermal nuclear reactor power”. It employs “mature and manufacturable high-temperature gas reactor (HTGR) technology with inherent safety features and a high working fluid temperature”. It offers flexible options for energy output – including electricity, steam for process heat, or both (cogeneration) while minimising greenhouse gas emissions.

Image: Marcio Paes Barreto, Managing Director, Evercore Energy (courtesy of Evercore Energy)