Press release

Oklo Announces Public Report Submittals Detailing Innovative Foundational Methods for Licensing Advanced Fission Technologies

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Oklo Inc. announces the publication of two methodology reports to enable advanced fission reactors to meet regulatory requirements by moving from prescriptive and outdated methods to modern and performance-based methods. Although the existing regulatory framework is based on large, light water reactors, small and innovative advanced fission technologies can utilize these methods to develop their design and analysis and assure safety in a thorough, modern way.

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Oklo Aurora powerhouse (Image: Gensler)

Oklo Aurora powerhouse (Image: Gensler)

The reports represent a major step forward in several ways. First, they are an essential part of the current Oklo combined license application review currently underway at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The goal of the first step of the two-step review is for the NRC staff to review the application in relation to these key topics: maximum credible accident (MCA) methodology, safety classification, and quality assurance, in addition to addressing the applicability of the existing regulations. As such, the submission of these reports is a key milestone in the licensing review.

The “MCA Methodology Report” is a companion to the “Performance-based Licensing Methodology Report.” Together, they show how an advanced fission technology assures safety from design and analysis through construction and operation. “While older plants rely on many redundant systems to ensure safety, where many thousands of parts are labeled as ‘safety-related’ and have to be operable in order to assure safety, advanced fission plants often use ‘inherent’ or ‘intrinsic’ safety, such as the physical characteristics of heat conduction. We had to develop an elegant and novel way to identify these inherent safety characteristics as well as a system for labeling and proving them from design through operation,” said Alex Renner, Director of Product at Oklo, who architected much of the methodology.

Second, the NRC is currently working at U.S. Congressional direction to develop a new set of regulations that are specifically intended to better enable new fission and fusion technologies to become licensed. While it is a goal that these regulations allow for different approaches to meeting safety objectives by using risk information and especially by being “performance-based” as opposed to prescriptive, the NRC staff has indicated that they will best be able to allow for approaches that are clearly and publicly documented. Additionally, it is expected that the reports will help to illuminate how a performance-based approach can look in practice, and in fact, distill out the methods within the combined license application that the NRC staff accepted for review last year. “A performance-based licensing methodology, like that presented by Oklo, is necessary for the U.S. commercial entities who are working to bring the promise of advanced fission to market,” said Ross Moore, the Director of Regulatory Affairs at Oklo.

Lastly, the reports are expected to serve as a useful tool to boost other novel fission technologies as they consider how they would approach their design, analysis, and licensing paths. It is the intent that these methods are “open-sourced” and available to help technologies get to market to support decarbonization via the deployment of clean, reliable, scalable fission power.

“The NRC oversees the majority of U.S. emission-free power and is one of the most critical government agencies with respect to addressing carbon emissions. The NRC showed that they are willing and able to review new technologies when they docketed the novel Oklo application. It is important to the future of all technologies that this regulatory innovation continues, and it is crucial globally that all emission-free power sources are brought to the table,” said Caroline Cochran, COO of Oklo Inc.

About Oklo Inc.: Oklo Inc. (Oklo) is a California-based company developing clean energy plants to provide emission-free, reliable, and affordable energy using advanced fission. Oklo received a Site Use Permit from the U.S Department of Energy, successfully demonstrated prototype of its metallic fuel, was awarded fuel material from Idaho National Laboratory, and developed the first advanced fission combined license application, which completed acceptance review and was docketed by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.