Kairos Power Advanced Nuclear Reactor Demonstration Project Progress


Tennessee executives and Kairos Power officials announced last week that a privately funded project to establish a low-power demonstration reactor at the East Tennessee Technology Park in Oak Ridge was moving forward .

Kairos Power, based in Alameda, Calif., Plans to invest $ 100 million and create 55 jobs to deploy its demonstration reactor, called Hermes. The Hermes Reactor is a scaled-up version of the company’s Fluoride Salt Cooled High Temperature Reactor (KP-FHR) design.

The KP-FHR is said to be “a new advanced reactor technology that exploits TRISO [TRi-structural ISOtropic particle] fuel in the form of pebbles combined with a coolant based on fluorinated salt at low pressure. The technology uses an efficient and flexible steam cycle to convert the heat from fission into electricity, the company says.

Rather than water, as in conventional nuclear reactors, the Kairos Power reactor uses molten fluoride salt as the coolant. Molten fluoride salts are said to have excellent chemical stability and high capacity for high temperature heat transfer and retention of fission products. According to Kairos Power, various studies of US reactors have confirmed the compatibility of molten fluoride salts with conventional high temperature structural materials (such as stainless steel), thus providing commercially valuable reliability and service life.

Kairos Power has received $ 303 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Office of Nuclear Energy’s Program for Risk Reduction Projects to support the design, licensing and construction of the Hermes low power demonstration reactor. Hermes is intended to lead the development of the Kairos Power KP-X, a commercial-scale KP-FHR.

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee was happy the project was located in his state. “Oak Ridge continues to lead the country in breakthrough technology, and we thank Kairos Power for joining this effort. I am proud of the energy development underway in Tennessee which will have a positive impact on the United States and the world. We thank Kairos Power for choosing to develop their test reactor here in Tennessee to support their mission of developing innovative nuclear technology that will move the United States forward, ”he said in a statement to POWER.

Bob Rolfe, commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, also supported the project. “The Oak Ridge Corridor is at the forefront of science and technology in the United States and this partnership with Kairos Power is a huge achievement for Tennessee and the nuclear power world. The combination of resources working to deliver innovative nuclear power is fueled by our strong science and energy sector and the excellent work done daily at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, led by Dr. Zacharia. I congratulate Kairos Power for this revolutionary project, ”he said in a statement.

In May, Kairos Power announced plans to work with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) on the project. As part of the deal, TVA is expected to provide engineering, operating and licensing support to help Kairos Power deploy the Hermes reactor. TVA generates more than 40% of its electricity from nuclear energy and operates the third largest nuclear fleet in the United States

“Teamwork is a hallmark of the nuclear industry, and through this partnership with Kairos Power, we can share TVA’s knowledge of safety and innovation to advance nuclear technology while acquiring experience with licensing advanced reactors, ”TVA President and CEO Jeff Lyash said in a statement when the deal was announced. “Nuclear power is the key to supplying our economy with reliable, affordable and clean electricity, and it is essential to our national security. “

The Hermes reactor is expected to be operational in 2026. The project is expected to advance Kairos Power’s iterative development process from prototype to commercial scale by demonstrating complete nuclear systems, advancing Kairos Power’s manufacturing capabilities for critical components , testing the supply chain and facilitating licensing certainty for the KP-FHR.

Aaron Larson is the editor-in-chief of POWER (@AaronL_Power, @POWERmagazine).

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