Bill Gates’ nuclear company chooses coal site for new nuclear power plant – News
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BILL GATES nuclear reactor company plans to build its first sodium fast neutron reactor on the site of a retired coal-fired power plant in the United States.
TerraPower, which was created by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates in 2006, has chosen the town of Kemmerer in Wyoming as the preferred site for its first 345 MW Natrium reactor. The demonstration plant will take over the site of two coal-fired units that are expected to cease operations in 2025. TerraPower plans to submit its application to build the plant in 2023 and have the facility operational within the next seven years.
The design of the reactor, which is one of two demonstration projects funded under the U.S. government’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program, uses liquid sodium as a refrigerant and includes a molten salt energy storage system. . The company says the benefits of the technology include it can boost output to 500 MW for more than five hours to help balance peaks in energy demand. With its integrated molten salt energy storage system, which is also used in solar thermal projects, this means it can work flexibly alongside renewables where it could ship the stored energy to make up for any shortages. of intermittent production or storing the excess energy produced, for example. during periods of strong winds.
The company says that using sodium as a coolant allows several design compromises that reduce the cost and complexity of the plant compared to traditional installations. The higher boiling point of sodium means that it can operate at atmospheric pressure, thus avoiding the use of expensive pressure vessels. The more efficient heat transfer capabilities of sodium allow the use of less equipment and a smaller plant; and its higher operating temperatures mean the design can provide process heat for other industrial applications including chemical processing and desalination.
Although the design of TerraPower and its partner GE Energy is new, the nuclear industry has extensive experience with sodium fast reactors, mainly in Russia. Power stations are operating in the country, the first being connected to the grid in 1980.
The use of sodium as a coolant poses safety concerns. Edwin Lyman, director of nuclear energy safety at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said The Guardian: âThe use of liquid sodium poses many problems. It is a very volatile material which can ignite if exposed to air or water â,
In 1995, a sodium leak from the heat transfer system resulted in a Monju reactor fire in Japan.
In October 2020, the The US government gave $ 80 million to TerraPower and X-energy build demonstration plants. X-energy is developing a high temperature gas-cooled reactor for the production of electricity and industrial heat. This funding is part of a multi-billion dollar program to develop advanced nuclear reactors through the Department of Energy.