The US State of Wyoming on 4 May signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Batelle Energy Alliance, the operating contractor of the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) to collaborate in the research, development, demonstration and deployment of advanced energy technologies and approaches.

The partnership will focus primarily on advanced nuclear technology; the nuclear fuel cycle; hydrogen production, transportation and consumption in industrial applications; and other advanced energy systems through a regional to global approach. The MOU also encourages cooperation to ensure training and education for workers in the uranium and nuclear industries.

“While the Natrium project is a great start, it is my intent that we are also able to establish a nuclear industry and a sophisticated and advanced manufacturing capacity using Wyoming uranium, Wyoming technology and Wyoming workers,” Governor Mark Gordon said. “This MOU will assist in this effort.”

In November 2021, US-based TerraPower, founded by Bill Gates, announced Kemmerer, Wyoming, as the preferred site for its Natrium reactor demonstration project. The plant is intended to validate the design, construction and operational features of the Natrium technology. The project features a 345MW sodium-cooled fast reactor with a molten salt-based energy storage system.

INL is a long-standing national industry leader and Wyoming has the natural resources, infrastructure and technical expertise to provide affordable and secure energy across the United States. The MOU, in place for five years, demonstrates Wyoming's continued commitment to providing solutions to a shifting global marketplace that is increasingly moving toward decarbonized products.

"This MOU formalises and structures a relationship that has been developing over several years,” said Dr Glen Murrell, Executive Director of the Wyoming Energy Authority. “The INL's expertise and impartiality will play a critical role in the ongoing execution of Wyoming's all-of-the-above energy strategy."

According to the six-page MOU, specific areas of interest include:

  • Hydrogen production, transportation, consumption and industrial applications in manufacturing;
  • Advanced nuclear reactor technology, applications and enabling technologies;
  • Novel business, technological and collaboration models for net-zero advanced industrial production, such as "Frontiers Centres";
  • Advanced energy systems and adjacencies (cyber security, advanced control systems, applied computing, radiological operations, etc;
  • Nuclear fuel cycle broadly (cradle to grave);
  • Zero-emissions energy production and utilisation, particularly incrementally provisioned advanced production with embedded nuclear reactors;
  • Economic modelling and assessment;
  • Nuclear-specific component manufacturing;
  • Hosting of energy-intensive industries;
  • Social licence in energy and economic transitions;
  • Regulatory financial structures to advance net-zero industry;
  • Advanced energy system manufacturing;
  • Operations workforce recruiting, needs and strategies; and
  • Global leadership in capacity building for "nuclear newcomers" and advanced nuclear energy first-adopters.