TVA and Kairos partner on demonstration reactor

May 6, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News
Artist’s rendering of Kairos Power’s KP-FHR reactor. (Image: Kairos Power)

The Tennessee Valley Authority and nuclear technology and engineering company Kairos Power this morning announced plans to collaborate on the deployment of the latter’s low-power demonstration reactor, dubbed Hermes, at the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) in Oak Ridge, Tenn. TVA will provide engineering, operations, and licensing support to help Kairos with deployment, according to the announcement.

The Hermes Reduced-Scale Test Reactor is intended to lead to the development of Kairos’s commercial-scale KP-FHR (Kairos Power Fluoride Salt-Cooled High Temperature Reactor), an advanced reactor technology that leverages TRISO particle fuel in pebble form combined with a low-pressure fluoride salt coolant.

In case you missed it: On December 11 of last year, Kairos announced that it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Heritage Center LLC to acquire the former K-33 gaseous diffusion plant site at the ETTP. The following week, the Department of Energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program selected Hermes as one of five advanced reactor projects to receive $30 million in initial, fiscal year 2020 funding under the ARDP’s Risk Reduction for Future Demonstration program (the other four being Westinghouse’s eVinci Microreactor, BWX Technologies’ Advanced Nuclear Reactor, Holtec’s SMR-160 Reactor, and Southern Company’s Molten Chloride Reactor Experiment). The total value of the DOE/Kairos cost-shared partnership over seven years is $629 million, with the department’s share at $303 million.

CEO excitement: “Teamwork is the hallmark of the nuclear industry, and through this partnership with Kairos Power we can share TVA’s safety and innovation insights to advance nuclear technology while gaining experience with licensing for advanced reactors,” said TVA president and chief executive officer Jeff Lyash. “Nuclear power is the key to fueling our economy with reliable, affordable, and clean electricity, and it is critical to our national security.”

“We look forward to collaborating with TVA and drawing upon the well-versed knowledge and expertise of their team,” commented Mike Laufer, cofounder and CEO of Kairos Power. “Kairos Power and TVA have a shared commitment to improving people’s quality of life and pursuing innovation through advanced nuclear that provides reliable, clean energy for the future.”

Noteworthy: TVA holds the nation’s first early site permit for a small modular reactor from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and is currently evaluating the potential environmental impacts associated with deployment of more than one reactor and more than one design at the Clinch River nuclear site in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

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