Advanced reactor licensing and the path to cost certainty

September 20, 2022, 3:13PMNuclear NewsMike Laufer


Developing a first-­of-­a-­kind reactor is a daunting endeavor. To be successful, advanced reactor designers need to achieve cost certainty by delivering a safe and affordable product at the promised cost. To meet this goal, Kairos Power structured its approach around four key strategies: 1) achieving technology certainty through a rapid iterative approach; 2) achieving construction certainty by demonstrating the ability to build it; 3) achieving licensing certainty by proving Kairos can license it; and 4) achieving supply chain certainty by vertically integrating critical capabilities. By mitigating risk in these four key areas, Kairos Power is confident that it will get true cost certainty for our future products.

The third prong in Kairos’s strategy—achieving licensing certainty—was a key driver in the decision to build the Hermes low-­power demonstration reactor, and it remains a major workstream as the company’s construction permit application (CPA) undergoes review by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Licensing a new nuclear technology is no small challenge, and there are multiple approaches companies can take. Here’s a look at how we at Kairos are approaching it.

Kairos Power and Materion commission fluoride salt purification plant

July 20, 2022, 12:01PMNuclear News
(Photo: Kairos Power)

Kairos Power needs a source of high-purity fluoride salt to test its molten salt reactor design and ultimately to serve as the coolant in its grid-scale fluoride salt–cooled, high-temperature reactor (KP-FHR). As part of a cooperative development agreement with Materion Corporation, Kairos Power designed a molten salt purification plant (MSPP) that has just been commissioned at Materion’s campus in Elmore, Ohio.

Kairos Power forms advisory consortium with four nuclear utility partners

April 20, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News

Kairos Power announced today that it has assembled an advanced nuclear development advisory consortium with four North American nuclear operators—Bruce Power, Constellation, Southern Company, and the Tennessee Valley Authority—dubbed Kairos Power Operations, Manufacturing and Development Alliance (Kairos Power-OMADA).

Input sought on Kairos test reactor construction permit

February 23, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is requesting public input on environmental issues that the agency should ponder as it reviews Kairos Power’s application for a construction permit to build the Hermes low-power demonstration reactor at the East Tennessee Technology Park in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

In a notice published in the February 18 Federal Register, the NRC says it will conduct a scoping process to gather information necessary to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the proposed project.

Tennessee governor gives nuclear another rhetorical boost

February 3, 2022, 7:22AMNuclear News


In his annual State of the State Address on January 31, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee offered more praise for nuclear energy, after lauding it earlier in the month during a tour of the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Watts Bar nuclear plant

“For decades, East Tennessee has been home to some of the best-kept secrets in nuclear energy and American innovation,” Lee told the state’s General Assembly. “Today, many may not realize that Tennessee derives more power from nuclear energy than from any other source. Recently, I visited the TVA’s Watts Bar nuclear facility, the last nuclear facility to be built in America, to see firsthand how nuclear power keeps our grid dependable even when the weather is not. Nuclear power is clean energy that actually works for the private sector.”

NRC issues key safety report on Kairos reactor

November 22, 2021, 3:02PMNuclear News
Artistic rendering of the Hermes low-power demonstration reactor, a scaled-down demo of the KP-FHR. (Image: Kairos Power)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission recently issued a draft safety evaluation report indicating initial acceptance of Kairos Power’s source term methodology for its fluoride salt–cooled high-temperature reactor (KP-FHR).