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Casper College hosting presentation on Wyoming’s pending Natrium nuclear reactor

A proposed design of the "Natrium" nuclear plant that will be built in Wyoming shared in a PacifiCorps press release. (PacifiCorps)

CASPER, Wyo. — Casper College will be hosting a presentation titled “Perceptions of Nuclear Progress” in December that will focus on the Natrium nuclear reactor that is expected to be built in Wyoming.

Dr. Glen Hansen, an adjunct engineering instructor at Casper College, will discuss the Natrium reactor during the presentation and discuss the science behind nuclear reactors. Hansen will also discuss safety issues related to nuclear plants.

“Hansen’s presentation will be followed by a discussion on the pros and cons of having the country’s very first Natrium power plant in Wyoming,” Casper College says. “The evening will conclude with a Q&A session moderated by Erich Frankland, political science instructor.”

When Governor Mark Gordon announced this June that Wyoming had been selected for the construction of a new “advanced” nuclear reactor, he said it would be “game-changing and monumental” for Wyoming.

The Natrium system, expected to be built at one of four sites in Wyoming, was co-developed by TerraPower, founded by Bill Gates and GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy.

Proponents tout the Natrium reactor as “advanced” technology with TerraPower claiming it can offer “improved reactor economics, greater fuel efficiency, enhanced safety and lower volumes of waste.”

The Union of Concerned Scientists, on the other hand, has expressed some hesitation in regard to the rosy picture TerraPower and other players in the field of new nuclear technology have been painting.

In a March 2021 report titled “‘Advanced’ Isn’t Always Better: Assessing the Safety, Security, and Environmental Impacts of Non-Light-Water Nuclear Reactors” the Union of Concerned Scientists points to a number of potential problems in regard to claims about new “advanced” nuclear technology.

The issue of whether the Natrium reactor would actually be an improvement on existing nuclear technology is explored further in this article.

Hansen’s presentation at Casper College is scheduled to take place at 7 p.m. Tuesday, December 7 in the Durham Auditorium. The presentation is being hosted by the Zeta Alpha Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa at Casper College, of which Hansen is an adviser.

Hansen previously managed the Computational Multiphysics Department at Sandia National Laboratories. Casper College adds that he also led development of computational nuclear engineering software at Idaho National Laboratory and was a deputy group leader in X-Division at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

“For more information, contact Bowden at jbowden@caspercollege.edu or 307-268-2064 or Teresa Stricklin, PTK adviser and mathematics instructor, at tstricklin@caspercollege.edu or 307-268-2615,” Casper College said.