The launch of Atomic Canyon along with Neutron, a custom-built AI search platform for the nuclear energy sector, has been announced by CEO and Founder Trey Lauderdale. With a background in developing communications and software systems for the health sector, he explained: "I got my start in healthcare, and there are definite parallels with nuclear energy, which – for good reason – is far more regulated than any other industry in the US.”

He added: “Both systems are slow to change, both systems produce large amounts of sensitive information and both systems must adapt to meet the need for far greater capacity. I brought a new perspective to healthcare. With Atomic Canyon, I look forward to bringing a new perspective to nuclear energy."

The Neutron platform is “designed to improve efficiency, modernise the regulatory approval process and streamline workflows”. It was trained on millions of pages of documents from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and “marks a pivotal step in advanced AI (artificial intelligence) search capabilities”. Beginning with Neutron, Atomic Canyon envisions empowering a "nuclear regulatory renaissance" – a new era of nuclear innovation fuelled by AI and a more efficient data navigation process.

"Transitioning to clean, reliable energy is the most important issue of our time. We are in a 'do-or-die' moment," said Lauderdale. "Recognising the pivotal role of nuclear energy in achieving this transition, Neutron reduces search time from days to minutes, which will improve operations and workflows – and, in turn, drive growth and innovation in the nuclear energy sector. At Atomic Canyon, we believe AI is essential to nuclear energy, and vice versa, as we move toward a more sustainable future."

At a time of renewed support in the US and worldwide for nuclear energy, Atomic Canyon says it aims to facilitate a better, cleaner, safer nuclear future. Nuclear currently supplies about 20% of US electricity and has the lowest lifecycle emissions of any major generating source" and "operates at full power 92% of the time," making it indispensable to any decarbonisation strategy. “With this in mind, Atomic Canyon designed Neutron to help address inefficiencies in the nuclear sector.”

Neutron uses AI-powered search, trained on all 52m pages from the NRC's Agency-wide Documents Access and Management System (ADAMS) database. Despite ADAMS offering access to millions of publicly available documents for nuclear facilities, the process of addressing NRC requests and obtaining regulatory approvals is currently cumbersome. Atomic Canyon says cutting search time by orders of magnitude, Neutron identifies and streamlines patterns and processes, leading to renewed growth in the nuclear sector.

Atomic Canyon was founded by Lauderdale (previously CEO and founder of Voalte, acquired for $180m) and Co-Founder and Chief AI Architect Kristian Kielhofner (previously Chief Technical Officer of Star 2 Star Communications, acquired for $437m). Their vision is to lead in AI-driven cost efficiencies for the nuclear energy sector. Atomic Canyon's AI application is designed for use in and by nuclear power plants, manufacturers of next-generation reactors and government and national laboratories.

“We stand at what could be the dawn of an incredible period in human history. Energy abundance (the ability to make energy so cheap, it’s not even worth metering) is within our grasp, and the downstream impact of this is transformational to society,” says Lauderdale. “However, to unlock energy abundance, we need to get really, really good at mass production of nuclear fission (and eventually nuclear fusion) – and right now… we aren’t even close to where we need to be.”

He adds: “Maintaining nuclear power plants (and building new ones) is an expensive endeavour. A technological breakthrough is necessary to reduce the costs of maintaining and building new nuclear power plants – and that technological breakthrough is occurring before our eyes as artificial intelligence emerges in multi-modal forms.”

In the next 3-5 years, AI is going to enable workflow optimisation equivalent to the smartphone plus cloud computing plus internet plus PC all summed together times 10, he notes. The ability to unlock the value from nuclear power will be driven from the adoption of AI across all sectors of nuclear power generation.

And in an ironic twist of fate… AI needs nuclear. The energy demands for AI are way more than anyone expected, and if we’re going to continue to feed this AI revolution the GPUs [graphics processing units] it needs, we’re going to need a lot more power. Atomic Canyon will be the company to help unlock this upward circular relationship.”