TVA and Kairos to collaborate on Hermes SMR

11 May 2021

US-based Kairos Power and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) on 6 May announced plans to collaborate on deploying a low-power demonstration reactor at the East Tennessee Technology Park in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. As part of this agreement, TVA will provide engineering, operations, and licensing support to help Kairos Power deploy its low-power demonstration reactor, named Hermes.

“Teamwork is the hallmark of the nuclear industry, and through this partnership with Kairos Power we can share TVA’s safety and innovation insights to advance nuclear technology while gaining experience with licensing for advanced reactors,” said TVA President and CEO Jeff Lyash. “Nuclear power is the key to fuelling our economy with reliable, affordable, and clean electricity, and it is critical to our national security.”

TVA generates more than 40% of its electricity from nuclear power and has the third largest nuclear fleet in the USA. “We look forward to collaborating with TVA, and drawing upon the well-versed knowledge and expertise of their team,” said Mike Laufer, Co-Founder and CEO of Kairos Power.

Kairos Power said its key objective for deploying the Hermes Reactor is to demonstrate the capability to deliver an advanced reactor at the costs necessary to make nuclear power the most affordable source of dispatchable electricity in the USA. According to Kairos, Hermes is a 50MWt test reactor that will integrate the Kairos Power Fluoride Salt-Cooled High-Temperature Reactor (KP-FHR) as part of a development pathway focused on cost- and risk-reduction aimed at eventual commercial deployment of a 140-MWe “KP-X” plant.

The design uses molten fluoride salt as a low-pressure coolant and fully ceramic tri-structural ISOtropic (TRISO) particle fuel in pebble form, with a high-temperature superheated steam cycle to “convert heat from fission into electricity and to complement renewable energy sources”. In December the KP-FHR conceptwas awarded $303 million under the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Programme (ARDP).

TVA provides electricity for business customers and local power companies serving 10 million people in parts of seven southeastern states. TVA holds the nation’s first Early Site Permit for a small modular reactor from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission and is currently evaluating the potential environmental impacts associated with deployment of more than one reactor and more than one design at the Clinch River Nuclear Site.

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