Trona mine to consider addition of a micronuclear power plant
The largest trona producer in Wyoming, Tata Chemicals North America, announced that is has signed an agreement with BWXT Advanced Technologies LLC (BWXT) to assess the viability of deploying a small-scale nuclear reactor to power the site.
Tata Chemicals Soda Ash Partners (TCSAP), a subsidiary of Tata Chemicals would be the first mine in the United States to have its own small-scale nuclear reactor that would provide heat and electricity to industry and to supplement existing power generation resources. The reactor will produce up to 100 megawatts (MW) of electricity. The project is supported by the Wyoming Energy Authority.
Under the terms of the agreement, TCSAP and BWXT will work together to identify TCSAP’s energy needs in Wyoming, progress BWXT’s “BANR” microreactor development for potential application to TCSAP’s energy needs, and to develop a preliminary business plan for the deployment and long-term operation of power and heat cogeneration sets at TCSAP’s facility in Wyoming.
While it would be the first reactor to power an industrial facility it is not the first planned micronuclear power plant for Wyoming. The planned TerraPower advanced nuclear reactor in Kemmerer would produce about 345 megawatts of electricity. The Dave Johnston coal-fired power plant near Glenrock produces up to 800 megawatts of electricity.
"Tata Chemicals Soda Ash Partners (TCSAP) is very excited to collaborate with BWXT and others to integrate sustainability considerations into business decisions and key work processes, while creating a long-term sustainable future for soda ash manufacturing in the United States,” said John Mulhall, Managing Director and CEO said in a statement. “TCSAP will play a key leadership role in developing environmentally efficient technologies, business practices and innovation."
“One of our main goals in developing a nuclear energy industry in Wyoming is to be able to support our own in-state end users and industries,” said Rob Creager, Executive Director for the Wyoming Energy Authority. “With the demand for power only expected to increase, we need to support Wyoming’s industries to remain competitive in a global market. In some situations, more is more and nuclear power has tremendous potential to add value to Wyoming’s energy portfolio.”
“This cooperation agreement with Tata Chemicals Soda Ash Partners LLC represents a clear signal that the Wyoming Energy Authority’s efforts to stimulate public-private partnerships is working,” said Joe Miller, BWXT Advanced Technologies LLC President. “Critically, it also shows the strength of the emerging demand for advanced nuclear technologies being developed by BWXT to meet industrial customers’ diverse heat and power needs.”
TCSAP has been mining and processing trona ore, a mineral that contains soda ash, at Green River, Wyoming since 1968. The Green River facility is located on the 'mile high' prairies of southwestern Wyoming, home to the world's largest reserves of trona ore. Here, more than 60 billion tonnes of trona can be found extending over 1,000 square miles at depths of up to a third of a mile.
TCSAP's Wyoming manufacturing facility consists of an underground trona mine and a surface refining plant that processes the ore into soda ash. The facility is located about 40 miles west of Rock Springs and 175 miles northeast of Salt Lake City. It operates around the clock, seven days a week, 365 days per year.