A California-based start-up’s plans to develop a power plant that can turn nuclear waste into energy just took a big step closer to reality. The company, Oklo, got a permit in December to build the next-generation power plant at the Idaho National Laboratory, in Idaho Falls. The lab announced Wednesday that it will also provide Oklo with fuel — the waste products of a nuclear reactor. The Oklo design is for a small plant providing up to 1.5 megawatts of electricity — enough to power about 1,000 homes — which operates like a long-lasting battery, without the need for a team of operators or refueling for 20 years. the Oklo plant design is based on an experimental reactor that ran for 30 years at the Idaho National Laboratory. Other reactors of this general type — fast reactors (so called because the neutrons in their nuclear reaction move faster than the neutrons in conventional power plants) — have operated in other countries, but if Oklo pulls this off, it would be the first fuel-recycling commercial reactor in the United States. Oklo still needs to apply for a license from the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission in order to ensure the safety of the new plant. The company plans to submit that application within a month. Depending on how long the regulatory review takes, said Oklo co-founder Jacob DeWitte, the new plant could be operating in Idaho between 2022 and 2025, But Edwin Lyman, director of nuclear power safety at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said he doubts it will be so simple. “These timelines are completely unrealistic,” he said. “The only chance they’d have is if they convinced the NRC [Nuclear Regulatory Commission] that they didn’t need to look under the hood because it’s so safe. The NRC shouldn’t cut corners, they need to do a fulsome review,” Lyman said.
Grist 20th Feb 2020 read more »
Idaho National Laboratory (INL) is to provide Oklo Inc with access to recovered material from used nuclear fuel to develop and demonstrate the Oklo Aurora – a micro-reactor that can be used in remote or off-grid locations to generate power. Jacob DeWitte, Oklo co-founder and CEO, said the award paves the way for an important demonstration of the first 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”.
World Nuclear News 20th Feb 2020 read more »