Oklo looks to bring microreactor “powerhouse” units on line

April 11, 2024, 9:30AMNuclear News
Concept art of Oklo's Aurora Powerhouse in use. (Source: Oklo)

Next-generation reactor company Oklo Inc. is teaming up with Diamondback Energy Inc. to bring Oklo’s Aurora Powerhouse units to the American Southwest.

The companies signed a nonbinding letter of intent (LOI) this week to collaborate on a 20-year power purchase agreement that would provide 50 MW of electricity per unit to Diamondback’s Permian Basin operations area. The agreement lays out options to renew and extend the agreement for an additional 20-year term, since the units are designed to operate for 40 years without needing to refuel. Diamondback is an independent oil and gas company headquartered in Texas.

Quotable: “By developing and providing a low-cost, high-reliability, and emission-free energy source, Oklo is poised to help meet the growing energy requirements of operators like Diamondback,” said Oklo’s chief executive.

The company’s recent announcement comes amid a surge in interest from energy-intensive industries looking at advanced nuclear power sources.

The technology: The Aurora Powerhouse uses a fission battery powered by metallic fuel to produce up to 50 MW, along with usable heat. Oklo touts the units as ideal for data centers, factories, industrial sites, communities, and defense facilities. The agreement with Diamondback does not specify the number of units that would be commissioned or where they would be located.

The company has received a site use permit from the Department of Energy for a prototype unit to be built at Idaho National Laboratory.

Elsewhere: Oklo also signed a deal to provide up to 500 MWe of power to Equinix to serve its U.S data centers. Equinix is a multinational company headquartered in California that specializes in Internet connection and data centers.

The LOI with Equinix confirms the company’s interest in using powerhouses to serve its data centers for a 20-year term, with the option to extend it to 40 years. Equinix has prepaid Oklo $25 million in permitted equity financing. Under the LOI, Equinix would have a right of first refusal for 100–500 MWe of output from certain powerhouses for up to 36 months.

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