Kairos seeks construction licence for two-unit Hermes plant

25 July 2023

Kairos Power has submitted an application to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for permission to build the Hermes 2 plant next to the Hermes molten salt test reactor it plans to build at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The two-unit demonstration plant would produce and sell electricity.

Hermes 2 will be built next to the Hermes non-power demonstration plant (Image: Kairos Power)

The NRC is now assessing the application, which was submitted by Kairos on 14 July, to determine if it is acceptable and complete enough to begin the formal technical review process.

In June, the NRC issued a Final Safety Evaluation Report for the company's application to build the first Hermes molten salt test reactor - a 35 MW (thermal) non-power version of the company's fluoride salt-cooled high temperature reactor, the KP-FHR, at Oak Ridge. The company expects to receive that construction licence later this year.

Hermes 2 is described by Kairos as an iteration that would demonstrate the complete architecture of future commercial plants at a smaller scale, building on the learnings from the Hermes reactor. Comprising two 35 MW (thermal) reactors - each the same size as the original test reactor - sharing a power generation system, Hermes 2's objectives would be to further reduce risk on the path to commercialising the KP-FHR technology, demonstrating licensing, construction, operations, training, and decommissioning of a multi-reactor plant to help achieve cost certainty for the first commercial unit.

According to the application, the earliest start date for construction of Hermes 2 is expected to be July 2025 with the first unit projected to be completed by July 2027 at the earliest and December 2027 at the latest. Construction of the second unit is expected to be completed one year after the first unit. An 11-year operating period is projected for each of the two test reactors.

Kairos CEO Mike Laufer said Hermes 2 will leverage experience from the Hermes demonstration reactor to advance the company's mission in East Tennessee. "While a few important details must fall into place before we can fully commit to building it, Hermes 2 presents a unique opportunity to accelerate commercial deployment of KP-FHR technology while bringing value to the local community over the long term," he said.

The NRC has made Kairos Power's application for the Hermes 2 construction permit publicly available. The company will require a separate licence to operate the reactor.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News