After working under wraps for several years, Oklo announced in December an advanced nuclear reactor that runs on a single fuel load for decades. Calling it the “Aurora Advanced Fission Clean Energy Plant,” the firm says the power plant would be integrated with solar panels to provide communities with 24×7, 365 days/year reliable electrical power.
The Aurora powerhouse, which in a conceptual image looks like it is ski chalet A-Frame home, is designed produce about 1.5 MW of electric power, while also having the ability to produce usable process heat for residential or commercial applications. The plant uses metal uranium fuel to produce heat, an advanced fuel type which is well demonstrated with decades of experimental data. Heat pipes carry the heat to a heat exchanger, and a power conversion cycle converts the heat into electricity.
“The Aurora is built on years of technology research, development, and demonstration done at the U.S. national labs and universities, and work done by Oklo to make the Aurora possible. While heat and electrons are the product, the Aurora powerhouse is the main point for community interaction. We spent years thinking about how it could look, how it would function, and how it would become a point of pride in a community,” said Jacob DeWitte, CEO and co-founder of Oklo.
DeWitt said in the press statement that Aurora offers a number of unique capabilities. Among these are;
- the ability to produce power for decades without needing to refuel,
- the small size of the Aurora design,
- the placement of the Aurora fuel underground,
- the ability to operate without needing cooling water,
- the demonstrated natural shutdown behavior of the fuel,
- the use of a fission spectrum which can recycle fuel
About Oklo Inc:
Oklo is a small company based in Sunnyvale, CA, developing clean energy plants using advanced fission. Oklo has been engaged in pre-application activities with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission since 2016 for the Aurora design, and is preparing to submit its first license application.
Oklo Announces Site Permit at Idaho National Laboratory
Oklo Inc. announced in December that the firm Oklo has received a Site Use Permit from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to build its Aurora plant at Idaho National Laboratory (INL).
The site use permit is an important step toward commercializing advanced fission technologies, and is the first issued for a non-light water nuclear power reactor. The site use permit is in effect for the lifetime of the plant.
The site use permit makes a site available to Oklo to build its Aurora plant, which utilizes a compact fast reactor to generate about 1.5 MW of electric power. This site is anticipated to be the location of the first-of-a-kind deployment of the Aurora plant.
Oklo co-founder and Chief Operating Officer Caroline Cochran said receiving the site use permit is an exciting step on the path to deploying advanced fission technology.
“Oklo entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with DOE in 2017, and the site use permit is an important resultant milestone,” Cochran said.
“DOE is clearly demonstrating its commitment to enabling commercial deployment of novel clean energy technologies, and advanced fission in particular. We are excited to be among the first to exercise this new process.”
INL plays a key role in the development of advanced fission technologies. As the nation’s lead nuclear energy laboratory, INL will be a key collaborator with Oklo as Oklo licenses, constructs and operates the new plant.
INL is also laying the groundwork for working with additional advanced reactor technologies to come. DOE recently established the legislatively authorized National Reactor Innovation Center (NRIC) led by INL, which provides resources for testing, demonstration and performance assessment to accelerate deployment of new advanced nuclear technology concepts.
Oklo has been engaged in pre-application activities with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) since 2016 for the Aurora design, and is preparing to submit its first license application to NRC. In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), an upcoming step before the Aurora plant is built will include preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement.
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