Back in July, officials from the state of Tennessee and Kairos Power met in Nashville to celebrate Kairos’s plans to construct a low-power demonstration reactor in the East Tennessee Technology Park in Oak Ridge, Tenn. The demonstration facility is a scaled-down version of Kairos’s Fluoride Salt–Cooled High Temperature Reactor (KP-FHR), dubbed Hermes. The company first announced plans in December 2020 to redevelop the ETTP’s former K-33 gaseous diffusion plant site for construction of Hermes.
On Tuesday, September 28, Kairos will host a live Q&A session led by chief executive officer and cofounder Mike Laufer to provide additional information and answer questions about the Hermes reactor. The company has a web page to register for the webinar and to submit questions in advance of the session.
Investing for the future: According to Kairos, it is “investing $100 million in our local economy and creating 55-plus high-paying jobs to support the construction and operation of Hermes. [This project] will leverage proven technologies to enable the world’s transition to clean energy, improve quality of life, and protect the environment.” Kairos was also awarded $303 million in risk reduction funding from the Department of Energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program to support the project, which is also funding full-scale demonstrations of TerraPower’s Natrium reactor in Wyoming and X-energy’s Xe-100 in Washington state.
Meet Hermes: The scaled-down reactor is intended to demonstrate complete nuclear systems, advance Kairos’s manufacturing capabilities for critical components, test the supply chain, and facilitate licensing certainty for the technology. Kairos expects Hermes to be operational in 2026 and to lead to the development of a commercial-scale KP-FHR, which the company is calling KP-X.
This past May, Kairos announced that the Tennessee Valley Authority would collaborate on deploying Hermes by providing engineering, operations, and licensing support to Kairos.
Design essentials: Kairos wants to commercialize this advanced reactor technology at a price competitive with natural gas generation. The reactor would feature TRISO fuel in pebble form and low-pressure liquid fluoride salt as a coolant. According to the company, the choice of a pebble-type fuel would allow the reactor to refuel while on line, while molten fluoride salts are well suited to high-temperature heat transfer and can retain radioactive fission products that might be released from fuel. The intrinsic low pressure of a molten salt reactor enhances safety and eliminates the need for expensive high-pressure containment structures.