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Natura Resources selects Zachry Nuclear Engineering to design reactor for deployment at ACU


Students work in ACU's Next Lab

Abilene Christian University’s Nuclear Energy eXperimental Testing Laboratory and Abilene-based Natura Resources have taken another step toward construction of one of the first advanced reactors in the United States. Zachry Nuclear Engineering has been selected to design the Natura Resources Molten Salt Reactor (MSR) that will be deployed on ACU’s campus.

“Natura Resources is excited to partner with Zachry Nuclear for the detailed design engineering of our first Molten Salt Reactor system,” said Douglass Robison, founder and president of Natura Resources. “In just over three years, this project, led by Natura Resources and our four university partners, has quickly become one of the leading advanced reactor projects in the country. Collaborating with Zachry, a company that will soon celebrate 100 years of engineering excellence, creates a one-of-a-kind working relationship that will further enhance this industry-leading project.”

ACU is the lead university in the Natura Resources Research Alliance, which also includes Georgia Institute of Technology, Texas A&M University and The University of Texas at Austin. The consortium’s goal is to design, license and build a university-based molten salt research reactor. A construction permit application is under review with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and ACU has completed construction of the Science and Engineering Research Center, which will house NEXT Lab and the research reactor. 

“The addition of Zachry Nuclear to the team is going to accelerate this project and help fulfill NEXT Lab’s goal of providing global solutions to the world’s need for energy, water and medical isotopes by advancing the technology of molten salt reactors,” said Dr. Rusty Towell, director of NEXT Lab and professor in the Department of Engineering and Physics. “I’m confident Zachry is the partner we’ve been looking for to complete the detailed design engineering of the reactor. The signing of this contract with Zachry is another example of Natura Resources’ ongoing commitment to the rapid deployment of an MSR on the campus of ACU.”

NEXT Lab places ACU students and faculty at the forefront of advancing the technology of molten salt reactors to provide less expensive energy, safer and abundant water and medical isotopes to diagnose and treat cancer. ACU’s deployment of the Natura Resources MSR is on track to be one of the first advanced reactors licensed by the NRC. 

This initial system at ACU will serve as a catalyst for Natura’s development of first-of-a-kind, safe, scalable nuclear reactors. Natura intends to deploy factory-built, modular reactors that fit on the back of a semi-trailer and can be shipped anywhere in the world. These reactors will produce firm, carbon-free energy with significantly less waste than conventional reactors due to the utilization of liquid fuel.

“We are excited to embark on this journey with Natura and support the advancement of the nuclear industry, an industry where we have a rich history,” said John Zachry, chairman and CEO of Zachry Group. “This significant opportunity allows us to play a crucial role in accelerating decarbonization efforts. It will allow us to leverage our nuclear engineering expertise and apply our construction-driven mindset to an exciting new technology that can lead us to a more sustainable future.”

About Zachry Group
Zachry Group is North America’s pacesetter in turnkey engineering, construction, maintenance, turnaround and fabrication services to the energy, chemicals, power, manufacturing and industrial sectors. Zachry works with customers to plan, build and renew their most critical facilities, so they can achieve their immediate and long-term goals, all at the highest safety standards. Since 1924, Zachry Group has been a purpose-driven organization, united by a shared set of values and the desire to deliver the very best outcome for customers. Visit for more information.

About Natura Resources
Natura Resources is an advanced reactor developer located in Abilene, Texas, committed to answering the world’s increased demand for reliable energy, medical isotopes, and clean water by developing commercially deployable molten salt reactors. To support this vision, Natura brought together Abilene Christian University, Texas A&M University, the University of Texas at Austin, and the Georgia Institute of Technology to form the Natura Resources Research Alliance. This revolutionary partnership between an advanced reactor developer and a team of universities has helped put Natura Resources at the forefront of MSR deployment. Visit for more information.

Learn more about ACU’s NEXT Lab.

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