Bechtel has partnered with TerraPower to provide plant design, licensing, procurement and construction through federal grant application to build a demonstration plant for the Natrium reactor and energy system architecture, Bechtel reported on Thursday.
"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 and Environmental global business unit.
Under the demonstration plant project, Bechtel will join a team that includes GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, PacifiCorp, Energy Northwest, and Duke Energy. The Bechtel-TerraPower partnership is part of TerraPower’s proposal for the U.S. Department of Energy's (DoE) Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program.
DoE’s Program has aimed to support the deployment of two first-of-a-kind advanced reactor designs in the next five to seven years. The Natrium system has integrated an advanced, cost-competitive sodium fast reactor and a molten salt energy storage system, similarly to solar thermal generation.
Bechtel will help develop an affordable, advanced design that will adapt to changes in electricity demands driven by solar and wind energy fluctuations. The Natrium technology will divide nuclear and non-nuclear facilities and systems to simplify the licensing process and lower construction costs.
The Natrium reactor will be able to safely operate at higher temperatures and lower pressures than conventional nuclear reactors. The heat is used to generate steam for a turbine and industrial processes. The system's gigawatt-hour-scale energy storage can also be optimized to meet the needs of specific markets.
"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 Chris Levesque, TerraPower president and CEO. "Bechtel has decades of experience with major infrastructure projects and we're proud to have them as a member of the team focused on delivering the Natrium technology in the late 2020s."