US-based Oklo and Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) have signed an agreement to formalise their commitment to commercialising advanced fuel recycling technology.

The partnership is an outcome of a cost-share project awarded by the Department of Energy (DOE) Technology Commercialisation Fund (TCF), authorised in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The TCF is a nearly $30 million funding opportunity that leverages R&D funding in the applied energy programme to mature promising energy technologies with the potential for high impact.

The project involves work with electrorefining technology to recycle fuel for use in advanced fission power plants. Oklo is matching DOE funding for commercialising electrorefining technology, which will help reduce fuel costs for advanced fission, while reducing supply chain risks.

“This partnership with Argonne will help reduce fuel costs for advanced reactors, and therefore overall costs for power from advanced fission,” said Jacob DeWitte, co-founder and CEO of Oklo. “There are tremendous energy reserves in used fuel that can provide emission-free power for entire nations for centuries while reducing the volume and radiological lifetime of waste material,” he added.

Oklo earlier received a Site Use Permit from DOE and was awarded fuel material from Idaho National Laboratory. In 2020, it developed the first advanced fission combined licence application to be accepted and docketed by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). However, in January NRC issued a determination denying its application to build and operate its Aurora compact fast reactor in Idaho. NRC said gaps in the information supplied by the company presented its review of the combined licence application from moving forward.