Construction starts on America’s next nuclear power plant

Digital rendering of Natrium Advanced Reactor Demonstration Project.

Bechtel to build Natrium Advanced Reactor Demonstration Project in Wyoming.

Construction work has begun on the Natrium Demonstration Project in Kemmerer, Wyoming, where Bechtel is TerraPower’s engineering, procurement and construction partner. The first-of-a-kind project forms part of the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Programme.

Natrium is an advanced nuclear reactor that uses a sodium-based technology to cool the reactor instead of water. This unique technology developed by TerraPower can provide clean, baseload operation at 345 megawatts with the capability to flex as high as 500 megawatts, generating enough energy to power 400,000 homes.

Commenting on the start of construction work on the project, Craig Albert, Bechtel president and COO, said: “The Natrium reactor’s innovative design will launch a new approach to nuclear plant construction that is designed to be safer, cleaner, faster and more efficient than many energy source alternatives.

“Working together, the combination of advanced technology and streamlined constructability has the potential to diversify the US power generation industry. The option of deploying smaller advanced nuclear plants that can work in concert with other clean energy sources will help speed our progress toward net-zero emissions.”

Albert also commended TerraPower on their approach and the significance of the partnership with Bechtel, saying: “TerraPower extended their visionary approach to the building of the plant itself. Their involvement of Bechtel from the very beginning means the entire project lifecycle, including construction, has been optimised at every stage, making the entire process cost-effective, fast and repeatable.

“Natrium will be the first nuclear project where the execution of those plans will benefit from Bechtel’s suite of digital tools and systems, which have been proven to deliver exceptional results on other large energy facilities.”

As the nexus of TerraPower and GE Hitachi technology, the Natrium design represents a leap forward in clean, sustainable power generation. The project will bring a commercial, advanced nuclear reactor online that will deliver carbon-free, reliable power to the electrical grid and provide jobs in Wyoming for decades to come.