Clean energy microreactor generates power from used nuclear fuel

February 21, 2020 //By Rich Pell
Clean energy microreactor generates power from used nuclear fuel
Idaho National Laboratory (Idaho Falls, ID), one of the national laboratories of the U.S. Department of Energy, has announced that it will provide clean energy technology company Oklo Inc. (Sunnyvale, CA} with access to recovered material from used nuclear fuel to aid Oklo in developing and demonstrating compact advanced fission technology.

The goal of the award, says INL, is to accelerate deployment of commercially viable microreactors by providing developers with access to material needed to produce fuel for their reactors. Specifically, Okla would use the material in its 1.5-MW Aurora microreactor plant that can be used in remote or off-grid locations to generate power.

Occupying less than a quarter of an acre, the Aurora, which also integrates solar panels, has the capability to turn nuclear waste into clean energy and can produce clean energy for decades without needing to refuel. In addition, the plant can save 1,000,000 tons of carbon emissions during its operation over diesel generator alternatives.

"We are excited to work with Oklo Inc. and support their needs related to fuel development and microreactor demonstration," says Dr. John Wagner, associate laboratory director for INL’s Nuclear Science & Technology directorate. "As the nation’s nuclear energy research laboratory, we are committed to working with private companies and others to develop the technologies that will provide clean energy to the world."

Jacob DeWitte, Oklo co-founder and chief executive officer, says, "This award paves the way for an important demonstration of the first Oklo Aurora plant, as well as the ability of advanced reactors to convert used nuclear fuel, that would otherwise be treated for disposal, into clean energy.”

Last month, Oklo announced it received a site use permit from the U.S. Department of Energy to build and demonstrate the Aurora technology at INL. The site use permit, says the company, is the first issued for a non-light water nuclear power reactor.

The site is anticipated to be the location of the first-of-a-kind deployment of the Aurora plant, with construction to be completed in the mid 2020s.

Idaho National Laboratory
Oklo

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