US-based TerraPower has named Bechtel as its plant design, licensing, procurement, and construction partner in a federal grant application to build a demonstration plant for the Natrium™ reactor and energy system architecture. Bechtel joins a team that also includes GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, PacifiCorp, Energy Northwest, and Duke Energy.
The Natrium system features an advanced, cost-competitive sodium fast reactor along with an innovative molten salt energy storage system based on those used in solar thermal generation. The design is affordable and capable of adapting to changes in daily electricity demands driven by solar and wind energy fluctuations, Terrapower said. The Natrium technology also separates nuclear and non-nuclear facilities and systems within the plant footprint, simplifying the licensing process and lowering construction costs.
"Natrium fulfills the industry vision of what a true advanced reactor should be—safer, simpler, easier and less costly to construct, less expensive to operate, and able to provide energy that is competitive with fossil fuels and complementary to solar and wind power," said Barbara Rusinko, president of Bechtel's Nuclear, Security & Environmental global business unit. "The Natrium system evens out the peaks and valleys in production when the sun is not shining or the wind is not blowing, and it does so affordably with proven technology."
"Our Natrium technology is an elegant solution to a challenge utilities face as they need clean power that is available 24/7 to support their growing renewable portfolios and make progress toward clean energy targets," said Chris Levesque, TerraPower president and CEO. "Bechtel has decades of experience with major infrastructure projects and we're proud to have them as a member of the team focused on delivering the Natrium technology in the late 2020s."
This partnership is part of the TerraPower-led proposal for the US Department of Energy's Advanced Reactor Demonstration Programme, which is intended to support the deployment of two first-of-a-kind advanced reactor designs in the next five to seven years.
Photo: Natrium system (Credit: TerraPower/GEH)