Oklo signs on as future customer for Centrus-produced HALEU

November 18, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News
Artist’s conception of Oklo’s Aurora powerhouse. (Image: Gensler)

Oklo plans to fuel its demonstration microreactor with high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU). To secure a source of HALEU for its nth-of-a-kind microreactor, Oklo has signed a nonbinding letter of intent with Centrus Energy to cooperate on the deployment of a HALEU production facility.

Micro-customer: Oklo submitted a combined license application for Aurora, its 1.5-MWe fast spectrum microreactor design, in March 2020. Aurora is the first advanced non–light water reactor to be accepted for a licensing review by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Oklo was selected by Idaho National Laboratory in February 2020 to use HALEU sourced from the Experimental Breeder Reactor-II in its demonstration reactor. A Department of Energy site-use permit received in December 2019 means that Oklo’s first reactor will be built at INL in the early 2020s. The company is planning now for the commercial deployment that may follow.

“The commercialization of advanced fission is happening now,” said Jacob DeWitte, cofounder and chief executive officer of Oklo. “We need to build out the U.S. commercial supply chain capabilities to fuel the advanced fission power plants we are deploying. Without an existing commercial supply of HALEU, we are lacking a critical infrastructure capability that needs to be kick-started domestically.”

Centrus preps for production: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission in June approved Centrus Energy’s license amendment request, submitted a year earlier, to produce high-assay low-enriched uranium at its Piketon, Ohio, enrichment facility, making it the only U.S. facility licensed to enrich uranium up to 20 percent uranium-235. Centrus expects to begin demonstrating HALEU production early in 2022.

“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,” said Daniel Poneman, president and CEO of Centrus. “Oklo’s innovative, compact reactor design is ideal for a wide range of commercial, industrial, government, and national security applications. We look forward to the opportunity to become Oklo’s HALEU supplier and support their growth for years to come.”

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