Oklo is evaluating 15 different sites for its Aurora nuclear power plant. Courtesy Oklo.
US-based advanced nuclear technology company Oklo has submitted a licensing project plan to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a recycling facility that would produce commercial material from used light water reactor fuel.
Oklo has won $17m (€15.6m) in Department of Energy awards for technology development in support of commercialising production of advanced reactor fuel from used nuclear fuel.
The licensing project plan outlines the company’s plans for “pre-application engagement activities” that support the future licensing of a first-of-a-kind fuel recycling facility.
The company said: “Oklo will use an electrorefining-based technology to recycle used nuclear fuel. A critical way this process differs from the legacy reprocessing methods is that electrorefining keeps the major and minor actinide elements combined. For this reason, many refer to the electrorefining process as inherently ‘proliferation-resistant.”
Oklo is developing fission plants based on its 1.5-MW Aurora microreactor design. It said it has more than 750 MW of customer interest in signed memoranda of understanding and letters of intent, and it is evaluating 15 different sites.
In January 2022 the NRC denied Oklo’s combined licence application for a project to build and operate a plant at Idaho National Laboratory on the grounds that the company had failed to provide information on several key topics for the Aurora design. Oklo submitted its application in March 2022. In September 2022 Oklo restarted its licensing process for the project.
The proposed Aurora design, which consists of a small reactor with integrated solar panels, would use heat pipes to transport heat from the reactor core to a power conversion system.
According to Oklo, the Aurora will generate both usable heat and electricity, run for at least 20 years on one load of fuel and operate without the need for water. The plant can also recycle fuel and ultimately convert nuclear waste to clean energy.