American nuclear innovation company TerraPower has commenced the construction of the Natrium reactor demonstration project in the US state of Wyoming.

Being developed near a retiring coal-fired power plant in Kemmerer, the Natrium demonstration plant will feature a 345MW sodium-cooled fast reactor with a molten salt-based energy storage system.

Its output can be increased to 500MW when required by using the storage technology when required. This energy storage capability will enable the plant to easily integrate with renewable resources and is said to be the only advanced reactor design with this feature.

The American advanced nuclear project, which is part of the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program will generate enough energy to provide power to nearly 400,000 households.

Bechtel will deliver engineering, procurement, and construction services for the Natrium reactor demonstration project.

Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon said: “This first-of-its-kind project is good for the community of KemmererDiamondville, the State of Wyoming, and our nation.

“As Natrium moves boldly toward establishing a new domestic energy source, it offers the promise of hundreds of jobs, enhanced careers, and renewed vitality.”

According to TerraPower, the Natrium demonstration project is the only coal-to-nuclear project under development in the world. It is also the first advanced nuclear reactor project under construction in the Western Hemisphere, said the firm.

The construction of the nuclear reactor project will span five years. At the project’s peak, nearly 1,600 workers will be required for the construction.

TerraPower also estimates that 250 people will support day-to-day activities, including plant security once the reactor is operational.

Upon its completion, the Natrium demonstration plant will become a fully functioning commercial power plant.

TerraPower chairman and founder Bill Gates said: “I’m proud of all the partners and people who helped get the most advanced nuclear project in the world built in Kemmerer, Wyoming.

“I believe that TerraPower’s next-generation nuclear energy will power the future of our nation—and the world.”

TerraPower submitted its construction permit application to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for the Natrium reactor earlier this year.

The groundbreaking pertains to the non-nuclear construction, while the nuclear construction will begin after the application is approved.