TerraPower and GE-led joint venture Global Nuclear Fuel–Americas, announced an agreement to build a Natrium Fuel Facility at the site of GNF-A’s existing plant site near Wilmington, North Carolina.
The natrium fuel processing facility will be jointly funded by TerraPower and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) through the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program, which aims to speed the demonstration of advanced reactors through cost-shared partnerships with U.S. industry. The facility represents an investment of more than $200 million.
The Natrium Fuel Facility and other commercial nuclear power initiatives are projected to grow the GNF-A and GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) workforce by approximately 500 new employees over five years. Many of these new employees will support the Natrium reactor technology that is being jointly developed by GEH and TerraPower as well as other commercial nuclear power initiatives.
In 2021, TerraPower announced its intention to build the first Natrium reactor at a retiring coal facility in Kemmerer, Wyoming.
“Reinvigorating the domestic nuclear supply chain is a critical step in building the next generation of reactors,” said Tara Neider, TerraPower senior vice president and Natrium project director. “This facility will create a reliable source of fuel for our first demonstration plant and additional Natrium plants in the future. We are pleased to join an industry expert like GNF-A in this effort.”
Construction on the Natrium Fuel Facility is anticipated to begin in 2023 and, once complete, is expected to support up to 100 new, permanent jobs.
“The Natrium Fuel Facility will help establish the fuel supply chain that will be required for the U.S. to deploy advanced reactors domestically and globally,” said Tammy Orr, senior vice president, fuel products, GNF-A. “This is a significant investment in our operation, and we’re excited to build on our more than 50-year legacy as a fuel manufacturer in support of carbon-free energy generation.”
The Natrium Fuel Facility would utilize high-assay, low-enriched uranium (HALEU). The Energy Act of 2020 authorized DOE to support availability of HALEU for domestic commercial use. This provision aligns with the modern fuel needs of the Natrium demonstration plant and other advanced reactors and is another important step in building out the supply chain for the next generation of commercial nuclear power plants.
GE began commercializing nuclear reactors in 1955. Fuel for nuclear power plants has been manufactured at the Wilmington site since 1969.
Today, in addition to fuel engineering and manufacturing, the site hosts training for field services professionals who support refueling and maintenance outages at nuclear power plants worldwide.
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