Oklo reports progress in Idaho, Ohio

05 February 2024

A land rights agreement signed with the Southern Ohio Diversification Initiative (SODI) gives Oklo Inc the option and right of first refusal to purchase land in Southern Ohio where Oklo envisages deploying two of its Aurora 'powerhouses'. Meanwhile, the safety design strategy for a planned fuel facility in Idaho to support the deployment of its reactors has been approved by the US Department of Energy (DOE).

Oklo envisages building its second and third power plants at the Piketon site (Image: Oklo)

The agreement with SODI - the DOE-designated community reuse organisation for the former Portsmouth gaseous diffusion uranium enrichment plant - builds on a non-binding memorandum of understanding between Oklo and SODI from May 2023, and signifies progress toward siting development and implementation, the company said. Procurement of land at SODI will be a "major next step" for deployment of the two powerhouses, it added.

"We see incredible potential in the Piketon region, both in its talent and infrastructure, and we deeply value partnering with SODI and collaborating with the local community," said Oklo co-founder and CEO Jacob DeWitte. "We are also greatly appreciative to the efforts of the DOE Office of Environmental Management in making these public-private partnerships possible."

"Oklo's land purchase agreement further brings into focus the potential for transformative impact the redevelopment of this site can have on our energy infrastructure and the reinvigoration of our community," SODI Executive Director Steven Shepherd said.

Oklo's Aurora design is a compact fast neutron reactor that uses heat pipes to transport heat from the reactor core to a supercritical carbon dioxide power conversion system to generate electricity. The Aurora 'powerhouse' uses metallic high-assay low-enriched uranium, or HALEU, fuel to produce about 15 MWe as well as producing usable heat.

Idaho fuel facility


In March 2020, Oklo submitted an application to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission to build and operate an Aurora reactor at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) site. The company announced on 31 January that the DOE has now reviewed and approved the safety design strategy (SDS) for the fuel facility it plans to build at INL to demonstrate the reuse of recovered nuclear material to support its advanced fission power plant demonstration there.

Oklo was previously selected through a competitive DOE-supported process to provide access to material recovered from used nuclear fuel from INL's now-decommissioned Experimental Breeder Reactor-II to produce high-assay low-enriched uranium for advanced reactors.

"The SDS approval is a major step towards a DOE approval of the Aurora Fuel Fabrication Facility as we continue towards our goal of producing fuel for our planned Aurora commercial power plant," DeWitte said.

The SDS is the first stage in DOE's approval process for the fuel facility. Oklo said it is working with INL operator Battelle Energy Alliance on the next phase, focusing on the conceptual safety design report which will summarise the hazard analysis efforts and safety-in-design decisions incorporated into the conceptual design, along with any identified project risks associated with the selected strategies.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News