Japan and TerraPower expand SFR development partnership to support carbon neutrality efforts

November 1, 2023

Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA), Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), Mitsubishi FBR Systems (MFBR), and TerraPower have expanded their Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the development of sodium-cooled fast reactor (SFR) technologies.

In January 2022, TerraPower, JAEA and MHI signed a MOU to collaborate on SFR technology development. In December 2022, the Japanese government revised their Strategic Roadmap for FR development, clarifying that Japan will begin FR concept design in 2024. The government in July 2023 selected a 650-MW pool-type SFR concept proposed by MFBR as the design to be developed, and MHI as the main manufacturer and constructor.

This expanded MOU will allow TerraPower and Japan to explore the opportunity to collaborate on a common reactor design concept, based on the Japan’s FR demonstration program and TerraPower’s existing technologies. This MOU has been revised to include an increase in size of the NatriumTM design[1] for enhanced cost competitiveness, and metal fuel safety.

TerraPower is currently developing the 345-MW Natrium reactor in the United States, with the support of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) through the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP). The first Natrium plant will begin commercial operations in 2030.

“We are thrilled to expand our collaboration with JAEA as Japan works to bring advanced nuclear reactors to market,” said TerraPower President and CEO Chris Levesque. “In order to achieve our climate goals, countries across the world are going to need to deploy advanced reactors starting in the 2030’s, and this agreement will help us evaluate the design opportunities for large-scale Natrium plants that can support Japan’s carbon targets.”

In recent years, many countries have accelerated technology development to reach net zero emissions, focusing on nuclear energy as a zero-carbon energy source. Generation IV nuclear energy systems have enhanced safety features, increase cost competitiveness, reduce the amount and toxicity of high-level radioactive waste, and more efficiently use uranium resources.

Japan’s Strategic Roadmap for FR technology identifies SFR is one of the most promising technologies and emphasizes the importance of international cooperation in contributing to a clean energy future.

JAEA president Masanori Koguchi said, “JAEA will play a role as one of organizations in the strategic roadmap for fast reactor development. For effective development, we believe that international cooperation is one of key issues. We will promote Japan – US collaboration on FR development through this expanded MOU.”

MHI executive vice president Akihiko Kato said, “MHI group, as the core company in charge of design and development of the Japanese demonstration fast reactor, will steadily proceed in accordance with the strategic roadmap. We would like to contribute to fast reactor development cooperation between the US and Japan by utilizing the technology and experience we have cultivated over many years.”

About JAEA
Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) is comprehensive R&D institute in the field of nuclear energy stipulated by the Atomic Energy Basic Act. JAEA works on resolving the unprecedented issues facing the accident at the TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, research on the improvement of nuclear safety, basic and fundamental research in the nuclear field, and R&D on the nuclear fuel cycle and on radioactive waste treatment and disposal technology. Learn more at Japan Atomic Energy Agency (jaea.go.jp).

[1] The Natrium project is a TerraPower and GE-Hitachi technology


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