TerraPower, Bechtel partner for Natrium project

By Riley SimpsonJanuary 11, 2021

Bechtel and TerraPower are developing a Natrium reactor and energy system

Construction and engineering company Bechtel will design and build a demonstration plant for the Natrium reactor and energy system architecture as part of TerraPower’s proposal for a federal grant application.

The Natrium system includes an advanced, cost-competitive sodium fast reactor and a molten salt energy storage system that is based on similar designs used in solar thermal generation. According to TerraPower, the reactor is affordable and adaptable to changes in daily electricity demands driven by wind and solar energy fluctuations.

Natrium technology also separates nuclear and non-nuclear facilities and systems within a plant’s footprint, which simplifies the licensing process and cuts down on 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 innovative reactor can operate at higher temperatures due to breakthroughs in sodium fast technology, and it not only uses the heat to generate steam for a turbine – as most power plants do – but it also can redirect the heat for industrial processes or store it in molten salt.

“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 TerraPower President and CEO Chris Levesque.

Bechtel has led the industry of nuclear plant construction and engineering since the 1950s, according to the Virginia-based company’s release, and will handle licensing and procurement for the Natrium project.

TerraPower is leading the proposal for the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program, which aims to develop two first-of-a-kind advanced reactor designs in the next five to seven years.

In addition to Bechtel, TerraPower’s team includes Duke Energy, Energy Northwest, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy and PacifiCorp.

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