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U.S. Approves Construction of Breakthrough Nuclear Energy Reactor, First in 50 Years

Kairos Power, out of California, received a construction permit from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to build a new type of nuclear energy reactor, one using a molten fluoride salt coolant, instead of the traditional water coolant. It has been over half a century since the NRC has taken such a step. The permit is for Kairos to build its “Hermes” demonstration reactor in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Kairos also has a construction permit application for Hermes 2, a proposed two-unit demonstration plant that will actually produce electricity. It is more akin to the layout of future commercial plants. Commercial deployments are designed to come online in the early 2030s.

Co-founder and CEO Mike Laufer stated: “Kairos Power is thrilled to have achieved this major regulatory milestone as we make final preparations to start construction at the Hermes site next year. We ... remain committed to being a good community partner to our neighbors in Oak Ridge as we bring value to the region and build on its nuclear legacy.”

World Nuclear News writes that: “Hermes is one of several new reactor technologies to receive federal support through the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program. U.S. Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy Kathryn Huff said the NRC approval is a ‘huge milestone’ for the energy sector. ‘NRC’s approval of the first-ever [construction permit application] CPA granted to a Generation IV reactor charts a path forward for future design applications as we work toward deploying new reactor technologies. This accomplishment is a testament to the collaborative work among Kairos, the NRC, DOE and all stakeholders involved in the project.’”