Lack of Russian Uranium Causes the Demo of Next-Gen US Nuclear Reactor to Be Stalled

  • TerraPower has delayed Wyoming’s demo of its flagship nuclear power plant by at most two years.
  • According to the nuclear innovation firm, it can’t get uranium from any other source than Russia.
  • TerraPower received support from Bill Gates, the US DOE, and other organizations for its advanced nuclear plant design.

A next-generation nuclear reactor project backed by Bill Gates and the US Department of Energy has hit a wall — because its only source for the uraniumRussia is what it needs.

TerraPower, which is behind the project has delayed the operation of its flagship reactor by at most two years because of the western sanctions placed on Moscow following its invasion in Ukraine.

Chris Levesque, its CEO, said that the war has reduced the supply of high-assay low enriched uranium or HALEU. TerraPower’s Wyoming-based Natrium nuclear plant won’t be in demonstration service in 2028, as it was planned.

Levesque stated in a statement that Russia’s invasion in Ukraine in February 2022 made the only commercial source for HALEU fuel in the supply chain no longer viable for TerraPower and other companies in our industry. newsletter messageLast week.

He stated that attempts to get US producers into commercial production and to locate alternative suppliers have failed.

“Given the current lack of fuel availability and the fact that no construction has begun on new fuel enrichment plants, TerraPower anticipates a minimum of two years delay in being able to bring about the Natrium reactor into operational,” Levesque said.

TerraPower was founded in 2006 by Gates, and he has been its chairman ever since. The company stated its goal was to provide the world with a more affordable, secure and environmentally friendly form of nuclear energy.

Its Natrium project is expected cost $4 billion to construct, with approximately half of that funding coming directly from the US Energy Department.

TerraPower plans on fueling Natrium with HALEU – which has a higher level enrichment than the US nuclear reactors that use 5%-enriched URANium-235 fuel.

According to Levesque, the company believed it would use Russian resources for its first core load as the US does not have the capability to enrich uranium235 at the moment.

However, Russia’s February invasion of Ukraine cut off the fuel supply after the US, EU and other western allies imposed restrictions 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.

Continue reading: Uranium prices rise toward the highest level since the Ukraine invasion as Europe’s energy crisis drives up nuclear bets

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