San Rafael Energy Research Center in Emery County takes its shot at nuclear and other power technologies — with help from BYU researchers.
On the edge? How about molten salt thorium nuclear energy? Matthew Memmott, BYU associate professor, earned his doctorate in nuclear engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before leading the reactor group at Westinghouse. He sees thorium reactors — a decades-old technology — as a safer and cheaper nuclear alternative.
It was Memmott who first reached out to the Seven County Infrastructure Coalition, an alliance of Utah counties with a shared interest in energy. He was seeking a remote location for his research, and he thought coal country offered advantages.
“This technology is a great way to help the coal-depressed areas,” Memmott said. “Salts are similar to coal. Some of their training transfers.”
That meeting eventually led to conversations with Emery County Commissioner Lynn Sitterud, who, along with other commissioners, decided to take on Memmott’s project at the San Rafael center.