Since the NatriumTM demonstration project was announced in 2021, TerraPower team members have been actively meeting with community members and officials across the State of Wyoming.
Most recently, on October 6, Chris Levesque, TerraPower President and CEO, Tara Neider, SVP and Project Director for Natrium demonstration plant at TerraPower, and Mark Romano, Bechtel’s Project Manager for Natrium, participated in a community town hall at the South Lincoln County Training and Events Center. Over 200 community members were present, and the Natrium team provided details on the Natrium technology, work on the project that occurred in 2022 and what is scheduled to begin in 2023.
Earlier this year, crews completed subsurface investigations on the future site of the Natrium plant. Over 100 boreholes were drilled, and the evaluation of the materials collected will be used to design the stable and safe foundation for the plant. The information will also be used for the permit application to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC); a detailed site investigation is required for the permit as it could affect the design, performance and safety of the plant.
Onsite crews wrapped up their activities in summer 2022. It was expected that work will start again in Kemmerer in 2023 with the beginning of construction work for the Large Sodium Test Facility, a non-nuclear building.
What is the Large Sodium Test Facility?
The Large Sodium Test Facility is a standalone, non-nuclear building that will be adjacent to the site of the Natrium plant and will operate independently. The facility will allow for the testing of critical components of the plant using molten sodium, the same element that will be used in the Natrium reactor.
The testing of these components will allow for the fabrication of equipment that are part of the plant’s operations. The materials and prototypes will be tested in the facility, validated, then sent out to be fabricated. They will then be available for use in the build out of the reactor and energy storage system.
The current timeline has testing of components beginning in 2026.
Wyoming Construction Efforts
The Kemmerer demonstration site can expect to see activity beginning again in 2023, with early earthwork activities for construction. It is projected for a 2.5-year buildout and to provide 150-200 construction jobs. All construction will be subcontracted by Bechtel, the EPC firm for the Natrium demonstration plant. Estimates show a need of up to 15 subcontractors.
It is expected that Bechtel’s request for proposals for the different trades needed will be done throughout 2023 and 2024. Contractors and suppliers interested in providing services for this project can register through Bechtel’s supplier portal.
Natrium Design and Regulatory Work
As part of the first three years of the project, TerraPower continues to focus on the final plant design with over 800 engineers working on the design and engineering. The TerraPower team is also working on completing documentation to submit a construction permit application to the NRC, which is expected to occur in 2023.
TerraPower continues to be humbled by the support the team receives in the Kemmerer community and in Wyoming. The team will continue working closely with the community members to ensure that this is a true long-term partnership.
Additionally, team members are working with state officials, tribal leaders and our utility customer to ensure that all stakeholders are properly consulted and heard during the process of bringing the Natrium demonstration plant online.
*The Natrium reactor is a TerraPower and GE Hitachi technology