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Bill Gates’ Natrium project stalled, lacks Russian fuel – call for tax-payer funding for nuclear fuel development

Russia’s war has stalled a next-gen US nuclear reactor backed by Bill Gates – because it’s lost its sole supplier of uranium

Markets Insider, George Glover , Dec 19, 2022

  • TerraPower has delayed a demo of its flagship nuclear reactor project in Wyoming by at least two years.
  • The nuclear innovation company said it’s unable to get uranium fuel from any source other than Russia.
  • TerraPower has received backing from Bill Gates and the US DOE for its advanced nuclear plant design.

……………..Its CEO Chris Levesque said the war has hit supplies of high-assay low-enriched uranium, or HALEU. That means the Natrium nuclear plant that TerraPower is building in Wyoming won’t go into demonstration service in 2028 as planned.

…………. Efforts to get US manufacturers in commercial production and to find alternative suppliers have not worked out, he said.

“Given the lack of fuel availability now, and that there has been no construction started on new fuel enrichment facilities, TerraPower is anticipating a minimum of a two-year delay to being able to bring the Natrium reactor into operation,” Levesque added.

………  Natrium project is expected to cost $4 billion to build, with around half of that funding coming from the US Energy Department.

TerraPower plans to fuel Natrium with HALEU , which has a higher level of enrichment than the 5%-enriched uranium-235 fuel used by American nuclear reactors already in operation.

The company assumed it would use Russian supplies for its first core load because the US doesn’t have the capacity to enrich uranium-235 right now, according to Levesque.

But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February cut off the fuel source, after the US, the EU and other western allies imposed sanctions on Moscow.

TerraPower and the Department of Energy are now looking for alternative sources of HALEU – and want lawmakers to approve a $2.1 billion funding package to support low-enriched uranium production in the US, Levesque said.


December 19, 2022 - Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, Uranium, USA

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