Bechtel Breaks Ground on $4B Sodium-Cooled Nuclear Reactor

The nuclear power facility will use a sodium-based cooling process instead of water, according to TerraPower.

Industry Dive

June 28, 2024

1 Min Read
Natrium is an advanced nuclear reactor that uses a sodium-based technology for cooling instead of water
Natrium is an advanced nuclear reactor that uses a sodium-based technology for cooling instead of waterImage: Bechtel

Reston, Virginia-based Bechtel recently broke ground in Kemmerer, Wyoming, on an advanced nuclear reactor that uses sodium instead of water as a coolant, according to a June 10 news release from the contractor. 

Bechtel is the engineering, procurement, and construction partner on the job, known as the Natrium Demonstration Project, for Bellevue, Washington-based TerraPower. The company, which is chaired by Microsoft founder Bill Gates, specializes in nuclear energy technology. 

The Associated Press reported in 2024 that the cost to build Natrium would be up to $4 billion.

To start, construction on Natrium will be limited to non-nuclear features. Work will advance once the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission approves TerraPower’s permit for the facility’s design, according to Utility Dive. 

At its peak, TerraPower claims the work will require 1,600 workers and span five years, leading to an eventual operation date in 2029.

What sets Natrium apart from traditional nuclear power plants is the way it will keep reactor temperatures in check – the facility will use a sodium-based technology to cool the reactor instead of water, which the majority of nuclear facilities use, according to the Department of Energy.

Continue reading this article in Construction Dive.

Related:US Energy Experts Highlight Potential for Nuclear-Powered Data Centers

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