2020 will have a lasting impact on the world for years to come.
No one could predict the ways that our work, relationships and daily lives would drastically change as the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the globe. Combine that with social unrest due to racial violence, an economic downturn impacting multiple sectors, and a contentious election cycle — 2020 was uniquely challenging.
With humility and respect, the TerraPower team remains incredibly grateful to the medical professionals, first responders, researchers, essential workers, vaccine developers, and countless others tirelessly working during the public health crisis.
2020 Accomplishments at TerraPower
While so much changed this last year, TerraPower’s mission and focus have not. The team maintained a clear and unwavering focus and persevered, which led to many accomplishments, including:
1. Committed to Close the Gender Gap
The gender gap for women in professional settings, especially in the leadership ranks, lags behind even the most progressive companies’ ambitions. TerraPower signed on to the Equal by 30 campaign to help change this narrative and make progress in the clean energy sector. The campaign requires signatories to commit to “equal pay, equal leadership and equal opportunities” for women in clean energy by 2030. Learn more about TerraPower’s specific commitments here.
2. Launched Natrium™ Reactor and Energy Storage System
With co-designer GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, TerraPower launched the Natrium™ reactor and integrated energy system in August 2020. This advanced nuclear technology features a cost-competitive sodium fast reactor combined with a molten salt energy storage system. Building on the technology used in solar thermal generation, Natrium energy storage and flexible power production will offer abundant clean energy in time to help meet climate goals.
3. Won Historic Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP) Demonstration Award
In October 2020, the U.S. Department of Energy selected the Natrium™ reactor and energy system to be demonstrated in partnership with the federal government. As a result of this 50/50 cost-share award, Natrium™ reactor and integrated energy system will be fully demonstrated by the end of the decade.
As utilities around the world continue committing to decarbonization goals, demonstrating and commercializing the Natrium technology is increasingly important to ensure grid reliability. The Natrium technology will complement grids with high penetration of renewables, providing carbon-free power 24/7, working together with wind and solar.
4. Continued Innovating the Molten Chloride Fast Reactor (MCFR) Design
This year, TerraPower’s teams worked hard to advance the Molten Chloride Fast Reactor (MCFR) technology. In partnership with Southern Company, TerraPower continued researching and developing the MCFR design through the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Reactor Competition (ARC) that began in 2016. The two companies are in the final stages of developing ARC’s main product, an Integrated Effects Test (IET), that will demonstrate commercial scale components and enable testing. The data generated from the IET will be used to validate thermal hydraulics and safety analysis codes. The IET is expected to be commissioned and begin operating in TerraPower’s Everett, Washington, facility in mid-2021.
In December 2020, the U.S. Department of Energy selected the Molten Chloride Reactor Experiment (MCRE) proposal, with Southern Company as the Prime, as a winner of the second ARDP risk reduction pathway – relevant to TerraPower’s MCFR design.
As clean energy solutions become more urgent, the MCFR design has the potential to provide low-cost, carbon-free energy to power industrial processes and process heat applications.
5. Evolved the Medical Isotopes Practice
Several years ago, TerraPower’s innovative work in nuclear science led to the creation of a medical isotopes practice, with a focus on Actinium-225 (225Ac) production for use in cancer-fighting Targeted Alpha Therapies (TAT). There are incredible prospects for the TAT program to make major contributions to cancer treatment. Oak Ridge National Laboratory is shipping material to TerraPower and we are preparing for material separations and processing so that we can distribute 225Ac to the medical R&D community.
Resilience and Perseverance to Continue in 2021
Faced with great obstacles, TerraPower remained committed to innovation with resilience, perseverance and creativity. TerraPower will continue to work to improve the world through nuclear energy and science in 2021 and beyond. As projects and programs evolve and grow, the company’s team will also expand. More information on job opportunities at the company are available on the Careers page.