Oklo, Centrus reach understanding on fuel, components, and power procurement

August 29, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News
The site in Piketon, Ohio, where Oklo plans to deploy two microreactors under an agreement with Southern Ohio Diversification Initiative. (Photo: Oklo)

Oklo Inc. and Centrus Energy announced a new memorandum of understanding on August 28 to support the deployment of Oklo’s microreactor design, dubbed Aurora, near the Piketon, Ohio, site where Centrus plans to operate a high-assay, low-enriched uranium (HALEU) enrichment demonstration under contract to the Department of Energy by the end of the year.

Oklo and Centrus began a partnership in 2021 by signing a letter of intent to cooperate on developing a HALEU fuel facility. The new MOU lays out a range of reciprocal collaboration programs. According to a press release issued by both companies, they “intend to enter into one or more definitive agreements relating to the following collaborative activities.” Those activities include:

  • Purchase by Oklo of HALEU produced by Centrus.
  • Purchase by Centrus of a portion of the electricity produced by the two microreactors Oklo expects to build in Piketon, which “are designed to power thousands of homes and businesses in addition to the HALEU production facility.”
  • Manufacturing of components for Oklo microreactors at the Centrus facility in Oak Ridge, Tenn., where gas centrifuges are produced, as well as within manufacturing space at the enrichment plant in Piketon.
  • Working together to “establish and license the capabilities necessary to deconvert HALEU from uranium hexafluoride to uranium metal and fabricate fuel assemblies” for Oklo microreactors.

Current commitments: In May, Oklo announced an agreement with Southern Ohio Diversification Initiative to deploy two 15-MWe microreactors at the site of the former Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon, which would be its second and third commercial plants. The company has secured a site use permit from the DOE and a fuel award from Idaho National Laboratory to build its first commercial power plant in Idaho.

The Aurora design will need a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. In March 2020, Oklo submitted a combined license application for a 1.5-MWe microreactor, which the NRC denied “without prejudice” in January 2022. The company then submitted in September 2022 a new licensing project plan for a larger, 15-MWe design to the NRC, which is currently engaged in preapplication activities with the NRC.

At its American Centrifuge Plant in Piketon, Centrus has constructed the first U.S. HALEU production facility licensed by the NRC, and expects to begin production by the end of 2023. Centrus is seeking additional funding and offtake agreements—like those signed with Oklo and TerraPower—to expand the centrifuge enrichment facility to accommodate a range of customers and enrichment levels.

Corporate plans: “Our wide-ranging landmark partnership with Centrus is expected to span fuel production, manufacturing, and power offtake, exemplifying the early market interest in our scalable power plants and differentiated business model, involving selling power, not power plants,” said Jacob DeWitte, Oklo cofounder and chief executive officer.

“We see tremendous potential in a strategic partnership between Centrus and Oklo to advance the next generation of carbon-free nuclear energy,” said Centrus president and CEO Daniel B. Poneman. “It has always been clear that establishing a domestic HALEU supply chain requires a public-private partnership. We are excited to see strong support from industry leaders like Oklo as well as growing bipartisan support in Congress and the Administration for robust investment in domestic uranium enrichment.”

Sam Altman, CEO of AltC Acquisition Corp. and chair of Oklo, said, “I am excited about the powerful enabling effect between Oklo and Centrus in providing abundant, inexpensive energy with advanced fission. This partnership will represent an important step in lowering the cost of energy by establishing a critical domestic fuel supply infrastructure.” Oklo announced a definitive business combination agreement with AltC in mid-July. Once the agreement closes, the combined company will operate as Oklo and is expected to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker “OKLO.”

Related Articles

The future has more in store for nuclear

June 6, 2024, 7:04AMNuclear News

Big news as I write this, my last column as ANS president: Legislation has been passed that will ban the importation of uranium from Russia (though waivers can be used in certain circumstances...