Agreement will enable both sides to advance fast-reactor technologies for commercial use
BELLEVUE, Washington – JANUARY 31, 2022 – TerraPower today announced that it has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA), Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Mitsubishi FBR Systems to share data and resources related to the development of advanced sodium fast reactor (SFR) technology.
The company announced late last year that it will build the first Natrium™ SFR demonstration project, a TerraPower and GE Hitachi technology, in southwest Wyoming. The project is a joint effort with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) through its Advance Reactor Demonstration Program.
Japan is known as a leader in developing sodium fast reactors, with experience dating back to the mid- 1980s. The United States and Japan have a long history of working together to advance nuclear energy technology, safety and security. TerraPower is interested in technical cooperation with Japanese entities and intends to work with JAEA and Japanese fast reactor industrials for advanced testing of certain components.
“As a nuclear innovation company, we value mutual learning with the broader global nuclear community and applying this expertise to ongoing efforts,” said Chris Levesque, president and CEO of TerraPower. “We appreciate the expertise that JAEA will bring to our project, and we are confident that our program will help them as they consider advanced reactors in Japan.”
“This cooperation with TerraPower will contribute to further development of the U.S.— Japan cooperation on sodium cooled fast reactors. We believe that It can provide a good opportunity for Japan to advance our SFR technologies toward carbon neutrality,” said Toshio Kodama, president of JAEA.
Levesque noted that while there are many opportunities to share knowledge among U.S. and Japanese partners, there are several differences between the Natrium reactor and previous sodium fast reactors in Japan. Notably, the Natrium reactor is a commercial power source that will utilize once-through high-assay low-enriched uranium fuel and is not intended for either breeding fissile material or for working in tandem with a reprocessing program.
TerraPower is constructing the Natrium reactor through a public-private partnership with DOE. The department is contributing approximately $2 billion toward licensing and construction costs and TerraPower is matching that total dollar-for-dollar.
TerraPower is a leading nuclear innovation company that strives to improve the world through nuclear energy and science. Since it was founded by Bill Gates and a group of like-minded visionaries, TerraPower has emerged as an incubator and developer of ideas and technologies that offer energy independence, environmental sustainability, medical advancement and other cutting-edge opportunities. It accepts and tackles some of the world’s most difficult challenges. Behind each of its innovations and programs, TerraPower actively works to bring together the strengths and experiences of the world’s public and private sectors to answer pressing global needs. Learn more at terrapower.com.