SUNNYVALE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Oklo Inc. announces the launch of Aurora, an advanced fission clean energy plant design developed to power communities with affordable, reliable, clean power.
The Aurora powerhouse houses the Aurora advanced fission power plant, also called a fission battery. The plant produces about 1.5 MW of electric power, while having the ability to produce usable heat. The plant uses metal fuel to produce heat, an advanced fuel type which is well demonstrated with decades of experimental data. Heat pipes carry the heat to a heat exchanger, and a power conversion cycle converts the heat into electricity.
“The Aurora is built on years of technology research, development, and demonstration done at the U.S. national labs and universities, and work done by Oklo to make the Aurora possible. While heat and electrons are the product, the Aurora powerhouse is the main point for community interaction. We spent years thinking about how it could look, how it would function, and how it would become a point of pride in a community,” said Jacob DeWitte, CEO and co-founder of Oklo.
The Aurora offers a number of unique capabilities. Among these are the ability to produce power for decades without needing to refuel, the small size of the Aurora design, the placement of the Aurora fuel underground, the ability to operate without needing cooling water, the demonstrated natural shutdown behavior of the fuel, the use of a fission spectrum which can recycle fuel and ultimately convert nuclear waste to clean energy, and many more unique and beneficial attributes. “For years we would not put out renderings, waiting instead until detailed analytical work behind it was completed. We are happy to share that the art and the engineering have come together at this point to launch the Aurora and share renderings of the Aurora powerhouse,” said DeWitte.
The Aurora powerhouse utilizes an iconic design while keeping practicality and operation in mind. The sloped roof is functional in a range of weather conditions, which can include significant snowfall in some of the areas in which the Aurora may operate. The roofing pieces enable modular construction. There is a front area which may be useful to the community, and a separated back area where the power conversion system is housed. The sloped roof also serves as the support for solar photovoltaic panels, which echo the Oklo logo on the sides of the powerhouse. These solar panels also serve as a canvas for local art which will be developed in tandem with the communities that choose the Aurora as part of their low-carbon microgrid. Oklo has been intentional to include solar panels as part of the Aurora powerhouse to illustrate how advanced fission and renewables can work together in a high reliability, clean microgrid.
The concept art on the solar panels was developed based on an inspiring image taken by NASA which showed aurorae on the earth from space. “We were inspired to see how both the beauty of the earth and current human energy needs, as well as human potential and the beauty of space, could be symbolized by the aurora dividing the lights on the earth from the lights from the stars. We are excited to think about how fission could both enable human development while preserving the environment on earth, and even enable deeper space exploration,” said Caroline Cochran, COO and co-founder of Oklo.
In order to realize the architectural design, Oklo worked with the sustainability group of Gensler, a leading architectural firm. For the concept art, Oklo worked with Forest Stearns, an artist they have drawn inspiration from since the early days of the company. The Oklo team has worked on the Aurora development in recent years as well as developed partnerships with regulatory experts, engineers, security analysts, operational experts, construction specialists, and many others to analyze design, construction, operations and maintenance.
About Oklo Inc:
Oklo is a small company based in Sunnyvale, CA, developing clean energy plants using advanced fission. Oklo has been engaged in pre-application activities with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission since 2016 for the Aurora design, and is preparing to submit its first license application.