Kairos submits PSAR for Oak Ridge demonstration reactor

Kairos submits PSAR for Oak Ridge demonstration reactor

October 5th, 2021

A rendering of the Hermes demonstration plant at Oak Ridge (Image: Kairos Power)
A rendering of the Hermes demonstration plant at Oak Ridge (Image: Kairos Power)

World Nuclear News reported an update on Kairos' progress on constructing the Hermes low-power demonstration reactor in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. As a part of their construction permit application, the US company (co-founded by UCB Professor Per Peterson, Michael Laufer, and Edward Blandford), has submitted the preliminary safety analysis report (PSAR) for its fluoride salt-cooled, high-temperature reactor (KP-FHR) to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

Kairos established a cooperative development agreement with the Tennessee Valley Authority earlier this year, and will collaborate with Materion Corporation, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Idaho National Laboratory, and the Electric Power Research Institute on the development and demonstration for Hermes. The development is also supported over seven years by a US Department of Energy Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program cost-shared award.

World Nuclear News stated that along with Kairos, there are 6 other non-light water reactor designers that have formally notified the NRC of their intent to engage in regulatory interactions. Namely "General Atomics for the Energy Multiplier Module; X-Energy for the XE-100; TerraPower and GE Hitachi for the Natrium reactor; TerraPower for its Molten Chloride Fast Reactor; Westinghouse Electric Company for its eVinci micro reactor; and Terrestrial Energy USA for its Integral Molten Salt Reactor."

[Full World Nuclear News article here]

NE Graduate Austin Lo featured in the Titans of Nuclear Podcast

NE Graduate Austin Lo featured in the Titans of Nuclear Podcast

August 23, 2021

Untitled design
Austin Lo was featured in the latest episode of the Titans of Nuclear podcast. After completing his Ph.D. candidacy at UCBNE in 2020, Austin joined Oak Ridge National Laboratory as a postdoctoral Researcher. Now he joins hundreds of noteworthy experts and professionals in the field to grace the podcast with their expertise, including two of our Professors, Rachel Slaybaugh and Per Peterson (both featured back in 2018).
In episode 329, Austin discusses his dissertation, space nuclear power, the evolution of R&D, and expanding nuclear innovation. Listen, Watch, and/or View show notes here.


Titans of Nuclear is an audio encyclopedia of interviews with the greatest minds in Nuclear Energy. The show has been airing since 2018 and was started by Bret Kugelmass, a Stanford MS mechanical engineer, robotics entrepreneur, and climate change thought leader. Bret identified a severe disconnect between nuclear and tech adjacent communities as impediments to innovation, financing, and social acceptance. He has built the podcast in order to help educate around the nuances of the world's most vital clean energy source. He is joined by co-hosts Jadwiga Najder, a Polish nuclear engineer and advocate, and Olubunmi Olajida, a Nigerian energy policy analyst. Titans of Nuclear is enjoyed by over 50,000 subscribers across 147 counties (and counting). If you'd like to recommend a guest or to give us feedback, you can do so here. And if you want to help others find us as well, please take a moment to leave us a review on iTunes.

Secretary of Energy Visits Kairos Power

Secretary of Energy Visits Kairos Power

August 21st, 2021


On August 18, Kairos Power welcomed U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Jennifer M. Granholm and Senator Martin Heinrich at their KP-Southwest testing and manufacturing center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. They were given a tour of the facilities following the Senate passage of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act – a historic piece of legislation that includes investments in clean energy.

On their LinkedIn page they wrote

"We are grateful to be among community members, local leaders, and organizations whose efforts are recognized as positively supporting New Mexico’s clean energy transition and the nation’s decarbonization goals... We would like to extend gratitude to our KP-Southwest team members who worked with flexibility and grace this week to enable a very successful and exciting tour of our facilities."

Kairos currently has over 200 full-time team members and expect to creat at least 65 more high-skilled and high-paying jobs in Albuquerque to support major hardware demonstrations.

Later that week, DOE Secretary Granholm also paid the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBNL) a visit. Kairos' Co-Founder and Chief Nuclear Officer, Professor Per Peterson (UC Berkeley, LBNL) commented, "It’s excellent to have strong policy support for clean energy including nuclear."

Similarly, the department celebrates this step towards more clean energy!

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory: National Ignition Facility experiment puts researchers at threshold of fusion ignition

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory: National Ignition Facility experiment puts researchers at threshold of fusion ignition

August 18, 2021


On Aug. 8, 2021, an experiment at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s (LLNL’s) National Ignition Facility (NIF) made a significant step toward ignition, achieving a yield of more than 1.3 megajoules (MJ). This advancement puts researchers at the threshold of fusion ignition, an important goal of the NIF, and opens access to a new experimental regime.

The experiment was enabled by focusing laser light from NIF — the size of three football fields — onto a target the size of a BB that produces a hot-spot the diameter of a human hair, generating more than 10 quadrillion watts of fusion power for 100 trillionths of a second.

While a full scientific interpretation of these results will occur through the peer-reviewed journal/conference process, initial analysis shows an 8X improvement over experiments conducted in spring 2021 and a 25X increase over NIF’s 2018 record yield.

“These extraordinary results from NIF advance the science that NNSA depends on to modernize our nuclear weapons and production as well as open new avenues of research,” said Jill Hruby, DOE undersecretary for Nuclear Security and NNSA administrator.

Read more about this significant feat here.

Mark Herrmann, LLNL’s deputy program director for Fundamental Weapons Physics reminds us:

“This significant advance was only made possible by the sustained support, dedication and hard work of a very large team over many decades, including those who have supported the effort at LLNL, industry and academic partners and our collaborators at Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories, the University of Rochester’s Laboratory for Laser Energetics and General Atomics... This result builds on the work and successes of the entire team, including the people who pursued inertial confinement fusion from the earliest days of our Laboratory. They should also share in the excitement of this success.”

Tennessee Governor Lee and Commissioner Rolfe Announce Kairos Power to Establish Low-Power Demonstration Reactor ‘HERMES’ in Oak Ridge

Tennessee Governor Lee and Commissioner Rolfe Announce Kairos Power to Establish Low-Power Demonstration Reactor 'HERMES' in Oak Ridge

July 17th, 2021


NASHVILLE, Tenn. – July 16, 2021 – Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe and Kairos Power officials announced today that the privately funded, advanced nuclear engineering company will establish a low-power demonstration reactor in Oak Ridge.
- Tennessee's Department of Economic & Community Development Newspiece

This completes the acquisition of the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) site, initially selected for the project back in December 2020. At the same time, Kairos also received $303 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy and Office of Nuclear Energy’s program for Risk Reduction projects to support the design, licensing, and construction of the reactor.

Kairos Power will invest $100 million and create 55 jobs to deploy a low-power demonstration reactor, called HERMES, at the site in Tennessee.

“Oak Ridge continues to lead the nation in groundbreaking technology, and we recognize Kairos Power for joining this effort. I’m proud of the energy development happening in Tennessee that will positively impact the U.S. 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 U.S. forward.” – Gov. Bill Lee

HERMES, expected to be operational in 2026, will demonstrate the company’s capability to deliver low-cost nuclear heat. It is a scaled version of Kairos Power’s Fluoride Salt-Cooled High-Temperature Reactor (KP-FHR), an advanced reactor technology that aims to be cost-competitive with natural gas in the U.S. electricity market in order to provide carbon-free, affordable, and safe energy. The project will be a redevelopment of a site at the Heritage Center, a former U.S. Department of Energy site complex.

“The Oak Ridge Corridor is at the forefront of science and technology in the U.S. and this partnership with Kairos Power is a huge accomplishment for Tennessee and the nuclear energy world. The combination of resources working to deliver innovative nuclear energy is fueled by our strong science and energy sector and the excellent work being done daily at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, led by Dr. Zacharia. I congratulate Kairos Power on this groundbreaking project.” – TNECD Commissioner Bob Rolfe

"The City of Oak Ridge has a long and distinguished history of nuclear innovation. The citizens of Oak Ridge look forward to welcoming Kairos Power into to our community and working with this exciting innovative project to ensure their long-term success."  Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson

Dan Kammen to hold James and Katherine Lau Distinguished Chair in Sustainability

Professor Dan Kammen to hold the James and Katherine Lau Distinguished Chair in Sustainability

May 14th, 2021

Professor Dan Kammen was announced as the James and Katherine Lau Distinguished Chair in Sustainability, effective July 1, 2021. This chair is campus-held and was originally approved as an administrative chair providing support for the Berkeley Energy and Climate Initiative (BECI). This honor is granted in recognition of the leadership role he plays in advancing teaching and research in areas ranging from energy supply and demand to related policy and markets.

Professor Per Peterson selected to join the Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board

Professor Per Peterson Selected to Join the Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board

April 30th, 2021


Professor Per Peterson was invited to be a member of the Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board (NASEM). The board oversees the National Academy’s studies in nuclear technologies and radiation health effects and has the responsibility to organize NASEM studies on safety, security, technical efficacy, and other policy and societal issues arising from the application of nuclear and radiation-based technologies.

Find more about NASEM and meet the other Board members:  https://www.nationalacademies.org/nrsb/about

Congratulations, Per!

Christopher Reis’ poster wins 2nd Place at the US-Japan Hawaii Symposium

Christopher Reis' poster wins 2nd Place at the US-Japan Hawaii Symposium

April 27, 2021


First-year graduate student Christopher Reis has won second place for his poster entitled Investigating the limits of high-temperature superconductors for high radiation environments with the US-Japan HEP collaboration, at the US-Japan Hawaii Symposium of the US-Japan Science and Technology Cooperation Program

His poster features work on radiation damage on superconductors. https://conference-indico.kek.jp/event/119/overview
Congratulations Chris!! Well done!!

The abstract for his marvelous paper here:
Nb-based low-temperature superconductors have underpinned the successes of particle accelerator technology over the last few decades. High-temperature superconductors (HTS) open a wider application space, enabling new capabilities for High Energy Physics, High-Field Magnetic Fusion, NMR, neutron, and X-ray scattering. With complimentary goals, expertise, and tools, our team is improving the technological readiness of these novel materials. This collaboration is centered around two main tasks: Investigating HTS technologies for high-radiation environments and measuring/modeling AC loss and field quality of HTS accelerator magnets. The insulation studies implicit to the first task have yielded a simple and scalable method to remove delamination damage of HTS REBCO tapes and seen the irradiation of new epoxies to 20 Mgy. From task one we have also shown that irradiation of these tapes above 1.80E22 n/m2 completely destroys superconductivity. For task two, the team has been employing both experimental tests and modeling to understand the practical limits of REBCO coated conductors due to a quench and methods of alleviation, and field quality of canted-cosine-theta magnets made from a round REBCO cable

SHERMAN: A UCBNE MEng Capstone Project Now Developed at LANL

SHERMAN: A UCBNE MEng Capstone Project Now Developed at LANL

March 12, 2021

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A former MEng Capstone project by Jay Lin was published as a paper last year, and now developed as a product at Los Alamos National Laboratory. It was renamed from RANHAM to SHERMAN (Sample Handling Environment for Radioactive Materials Analysis with Neutrons) and has a commissioning report due in September 2021.

It is planned to hold spend fuel rods for 3D tomography investigations at the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center (LANSCE) accelerator.

To read the published paper: https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/s11837-019-03849-2.pdf

Looking forward to more excellent news from our Alumni!

ANS Magazine Radwaste Solutions features Lorenzo Vergari’s work

ANS Magazine 'Radwaste Solutions' features Lorenzo Vergari's work

March 10, 2021

TRISO vergari fratoni

UCBNE PhD student Lorenzo Vergari's work is featured in the Spring 2021 Issue of the ANS Magazine 'Radwaste Solutions.' Entitled "Packaging TRISO," the article was based on Vergari's presentation of the same topic at the 2020 ANS Virtual Winter Meeting on November 16-19, 2020. He discusses storage and transportation strategies for used Fluoride Salt-Cooled High-Temperature Reactor fuel and identifies the next steps in the investigation before the suggestions can be put into effect.

ANS members can check this article out here. Starting on Page 68

Keep up the Excellent work Lorenzo!