Oklo and Centrus team up for HALEU supply chain

18 November 2021

Oklo Inc and Centrus Energy Corp have signed a non-binding Letter of Intent to cooperate in the deployment of a production facility for high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) to support the commercialisation of advanced fission plants, such as Oklo's Aurora. The companies say they are "committed" to working towards establishing domestic US HALEU production capabilities.

Oklo's vision of an Aurora powerhouse (Image: Gensler)

California-based Oklo's proposed Aurora reactor design is a 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. Using metallic HALEU fuel, the Aurora 'powerhouse' produces about 1.5 MWe and can also produce usable heat. A combined construction and operating licence for a unit at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) is currently under review by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission and is the first such application for an advanced fission technology to be accepted for review by the US regulator.

Oklo expects to begin deploying and commercialising a suite of advanced fission power plants from the "early 2020s". The first plant is expected to be fuelled using material supplied by INL. In the near-term, it is anticipated plant deployment will be fuelled by Centrus - the company is constructing the USA's first NRC-licensed HALEU production facility in Piketon, Ohio, which is expected to begin demonstrating first-of-a-kind HALEU production in 2022.

"The commercialisation of advanced fission is happening now," Oklo's co-founder and CEO Jacob DeWitte said. US commercial supply chain capabilities need to be built out to fuel the plants that will be deployed, he added. "Without an existing commercial supply of HALEU, we are lacking a critical infrastructure capability that needs to be kickstarted domestically."

"We are excited by the prospect of creating an assured, affordable, domestic fuel supply that can power the deployment of Oklo's powerhouses in the United States and around the world," Centrus President and CEO Daniel Poneman said. "Oklo's innovative, compact reactor design is ideal for a wide range of commercial, industrial, government, and national security applications."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News