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Framatome US Government Solutions has announced a design phase award for the Ex-vessel Fuel Handling Equipment Project for US TerraPower’s Natrium reactor.

The Natrium technology is a TerraPower and GE-Hitachi technology featuring a 345 MWe sodium-cooled fast reactor with a molten salt-based energy storage system. Along with PacifiCorp and GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, members of the demonstration project team include engineering and construction partner Bechtel, Energy Northwest, Duke Energy and nearly a dozen additional companies, universities and national laboratory partners. In October 2020, the US Department of Energy (DOE), through its Advanced Reactor Demonstration Programme (ARDP), awarded TerraPower $80m in initial funding to demonstrate the Natrium technology.

Earlier in February TerraPower selected five suppliers including Framatome, to support the Natrium Reactor Demonstration Project in Kemmerer, Wyoming. TerraPower said, when completed, the Natrium plant will be a full commercial operating. The other four suppliers are GERB Vibration Control Systems, Thermal Engineering International, Hayward Tyler and Teledyne Brown Engineering.

The customized equipment to be supplied by Framatome consists of two separate rail-mounted machines used to perform refuelling and related core component transfer activities. Automated and remote functionality enhances the safety and performance of the refuelling operations during scheduled outages and maintenance.

Tara Neider, senior vice president and project director for the Natrium Reactor Demonstration Project said this equipment project is an important milestone for advancing the Natrium reactor design. “The breadth of Framatome’s expertise and depth of its operating experience provides certainty and strengthens our diverse supply chain needed to bring this unique technology to market.”

Craig Ranson, Executive Vice President of the Installed Base Business Unit at Framatome in North America said: “We are developing and delivering technological modules for advanced and small modular reactors, collaborating closely with TerraPower and other industry leaders that are advancing nuclear energy capabilities,”

The fuel handling equipment will be designed jointly by Framatome and American Crane, based on a long history of providing upgrades and new fuel handling equipment for plants in the US NPP fleet. The design phase of the project will be executed at Framatome’s Operational Center of Excellence in Lynchburg, Virginia, and will be finalised for fabrication by July 2025.

Image: Rendering of the Natrium reactor plant with integrated energy storage (courtesy of TerraPower)

Date: Thursday, 29 February 2024
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