Project is to recycle fuel for use in fission reactors The fission Aurora powerhouse is based on a combination of a microreactor and solar panels. Courtesy Oklo. Oklo, the US developer of Generation IV advanced nuclear power plants, has signed an agreement with the US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory to work towards commercialisation of advanced fuel recycling technology.

The California-based company said the partnership comes under a cost-sharing project awarded by the DOE’s technology commercialisation fund – a nearly $30m funding facility which pledges research funding to energy technologies with “high impact” potential.

According to Oklo, the project with Agonne involves work with electrorefining technology to recycle fuel for use in advanced fission power plants. Under the cost-sharing agreement, Oklo is expected to match government funding for the project.

Jacob DeWitte, co-founder and chief executive of Oklo, said the partnership is expected to help reduce fuel costs for advanced reactors, and therefore overall costs for power from advanced fission.

“There are tremendous energy reserves in used fuel that can provide emission-free power for entire nations for centuries while reducing the volume and radiological lifetime of waste material,” he said.

Oklo is working to make micro-nuclear reactors that would power industrial sites, large companies, college campuses and remote locations.

The company has said its advanced fission Aurora powerhouse, based on a combination of a microreactor and solar panels, can produce reliable power for up to 20 years without the need to refuel.

The Aurora will generate both usable heat and electricity and can also recycle fuel and ultimately convert nuclear waste to clean energy.

Oklo has also signed fuel-related agreements with the DOE’s Idaho National Laboratory and US-based fuel company Centres Energy.

Last month, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission denied Oklo’s application to build and operate the company’s Aurora compact fast reactor at the at the Idaho National Laboratory site.

The NRC said the denial was based on Oklo’s failure to provide information on several key topics for the Aurora design. It said the company was free to submit a complete application in the future.

Oklo said after the NRC’s announcement that discussions with the NRC had made it clear the “door is open” for it to supplement and resubmit its application. It said it was “already discussing next steps with them and new ways to communicate.”

Date: Thursday, 10 February 2022
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