Draft EIS for fluoride salt–cooled test reactor now out for public comment

October 3, 2022, 3:06PMNuclear News
An artist’s rendering of Hermes. (Image: Kairos Power)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) recently on Kairos Power’s application for a permit to construct Hermes, a 35-MW nonpower version of the company’s fluoride salt–cooled reactor design (KP-FHR), at the East Tennessee Technology Park in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

On file: Alameda, Calif.–based Kairos submitted the first part of its application for Hermes in September 2021, completing the process the following month with its submittal of an environmental report. The NRC sought public input on the EIS scope in February 2022. Kairos expects Hermes to be operational in 2026.

The KP-FHR design (and Hermes) will use solid TRISO fuel in pebble form. The proposed unit 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 to support the development of a commercial-scale 140-MWe KP-FHR reactor, which the company is calling KP-X.

Background: The company first announced its plans to redevelop the former K-33 gaseous diffusion plant site at the Heritage Center, a former Department of Energy site complex, in December 2020. That same month, Kairos received a DOE Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program award for risk-reduction funding to support the development, construction, and commissioning of Hermes in collaboration with Oak Ridge and Idaho National Laboratories, Materion Corporation, and the Electric Power Research Institute. The total award value (over seven years) was $629 million, with the DOE contributing $303 million.

Kairos has also established a cooperative development agreement with the Tennessee Valley Authority to provide defined engineering, operations, and licensing services for Hermes. TVA holds the nation’s first early site permit for a small modular reactor at the Clinch River nuclear site in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

Comments welcome: NRC staff will consider written comments on the draft EIS until December 6. Comments can be submitted via email to KairosHermes-CPEIS@nrc.gov or via the regulations.gov website (include Docket ID NRC-2021-0193 in website comments).

NRC staff will hold an in-person public meeting on the draft statement’s findings in Oak Ridge, Tenn., on November 16 at 7:00 p.m. EST. The meeting will also be available to the public as a live webinar and teleconference.

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