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NRC Approves Kairos Power’s Innovative Hermes Reactor for Construction in Tennessee

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Kairos Power
Kairos Power

In a notable development in the nuclear energy sector, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has greenlit the construction of Kairos Power’s Hermes demonstration reactor in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. This decision marks a significant leap for Kairos Power, moving it closer to commercializing its advanced reactor technology. Hermes, characterized by its non-water-cooled design, is the first of its kind to gain construction approval in the U.S. in over five decades.

Mike Laufer, Kairos Power co-founder and CEO, expressed enthusiasm for this regulatory milestone, stating, “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.” He emphasized the project’s alignment with the region’s nuclear legacy and its potential to contribute clean, safe, and affordable energy.

Peter Hastings, Vice President of Regulatory Affairs & Quality at Kairos Power, highlighted the success of their pre-application engagement with the NRC, which began back in 2018. This proactive approach facilitated an efficient review process, culminating in the recent approval. Hastings noted, “This historic achievement is a testament to the concerted effort by the entire Kairos Power team aligned with our iterative approach to licensing KP-FHR technology.”

The Hermes project represents more than just a new reactor. It’s a step forward in mitigating technology, licensing, supply chain, and construction risks, ensuring cost certainty for the company’s fluoride salt-cooled, high-temperature reactor (KP-FHR) technology. The lessons learned from Hermes will be pivotal for Kairos Power’s planned commercial deployments in the early 2030s.


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Further, Kairos Power’s collaborative efforts with industry giants like Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Idaho National Laboratory, Materion Corporation, and the Electric Power Research Institute, backed by a Department of Energy Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP) award, underscore the project’s broad support base.

The company is not stopping at Hermes. Plans for Hermes 2, a two-unit demonstration plant, are already under NRC review. This next phase aims to showcase the complete architecture of Kairos Power’s future commercial plants on a smaller scale, including grid electricity supply.

The nuclear industry has long been eyeing advancements like these. The last time the U.S. saw a non-water-cooled reactor construction was in the era of the Shippingport Atomic Power Station in the late 1950s, a pioneering project in the peaceful use of nuclear energy. The Hermes project, thus, doesn’t just represent a single company’s achievement but is a beacon in the evolving landscape of nuclear energy, reflecting a shift towards more diverse and advanced reactor designs.

Sunita Somvanshi

With over two decades of dedicated service in the state environmental ministry, this seasoned professional has cultivated a discerning perspective on the intricate interplay between environmental considerations and diverse industries. Sunita is armed with a keen eye for pivotal details, her extensive experience uniquely positions her to offer insightful commentary on topics ranging from business sustainability and global trade's environmental impact to fostering partnerships, optimizing freight and transport for ecological efficiency, and delving into the realms of thermal management, logistics, carbon credits, and energy transition. Through her writing, she not only imparts valuable knowledge but also provides a nuanced understanding of how businesses can harmonize with environmental imperatives, making her a crucial voice in the discourse on sustainable practices and the future of industry.

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