Research & Development

Advanced Reactors / Oklo Restarts Licensing Process With NRC Ahead Of Resubmitting Aurora Application

By Kamen Kraev
21 September 2022

Company has responded to every request, says co-founder
Oklo Restarts Licensing Process With NRC Ahead Of Resubmitting Aurora Application
The proposed Aurora design consists of a small reactor with integrated solar panels. Courtesy Oklo.
California-based nuclear startup Oklo Power has restarted licensing procedures with the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for its Aurora compact fast reactor to be deployed at the Idaho National Laboratory site.

Oklo said in a statement it has handed to the NRC a licensing project plan which lays out a framework for interaction with the regulator before the actual application is submitted.

Oklo’s initial application was rejected by the NRC in January 2022 on the grounds of the company’s failure to provide information on several key topics for the Aurora design. Oklo submitted its first application in March 2022.

Jacob DeWitte, co-founder and chief executive of Oklo, said: “Oklo has responded to every NRC request for information promptly and we look forward to continuing to engage with NRC as we prepare for upcoming application submissions.”

The proposed Aurora design, which consists of a small reactor with integrated solar panels, would use heat pipes to transport heat from the reactor core to a power conversion system. It is an advanced fission power system that generates approximately 1.5 MW of power.

Plant Can Convert Nuclear Waste To Clean Energy

According to Oklo, the Aurora will generate both usable heat and electricity, run for at least 20 years on one load of fuel and operate without the need for water. The plant can also recycle fuel and ultimately convert nuclear waste to clean energy.

Oklo, which is solely venture-funded and backed primarily by US-based investors, announced in 2019 that it had successfully demonstrated prototypes of a metallic fuel at INL for the Aurora reactor. It said it had fabricated prototypes with multiple fuel elements reaching production specification.

The company said it said it budgeted “in the order of” $10m for construction and $3m a year for operations. The company said the construction cost includes the small building required, including the power conversion system.

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