TWR Technology: Preparing Nuclear Energy for Global Growth
TerraPower’s innovative Traveling Wave Reactor (TWR) design results in a reactor that can operate with higher thermal efficiency and consume uranium resources in a more efficient, clean and safe manner than previously possible.
Unlike traditional nuclear reactors, this technology will be capable of utilizing fuel made from depleted uranium, which is currently a waste byproduct of the uranium enrichment process. Its unique design gradually converts the fuel through a nuclear reaction without removing it from the reactor’s core, eliminating the need for reprocessing, generating heat and producing electricity over a much longer period of continuous operation. Additionally, eliminating reprocessing reduces proliferation concerns, lowers the overall cost of the nuclear energy process, and helps to protect the environment by making use of a waste byproduct and reducing the production of greenhouse gases.
To date, TerraPower has achieved significant success in the development of this advanced nuclear reactor design, largely through progress made by leveraging public-private partnerships, seeking excellence in commercial partners, and forging a new supply chain for fuels and materials. This has led to the completion of the core concept design for a prototype of the TWR program.
Construction of a TWR engineering simulator is an important milestone, as it puts engineers in the control room of a virtual TWR system to study the reactor’s operation from start-up to full power. By pairing cutting-edge computing power with real-world data, TerraPower continues to improve the TWR design, analyzing it using new seismic, physics and mechanical methodologies. Together, these activities bring the design ever closer to construction of the first TWR technology.
TerraPower aims to achieve startup of its prototype TWR reactor in the mid-2020s, followed by global commercial deployment.