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News | Sept. 5, 2023

Micro-reactor pilot program reaches major milestone

By Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

The Department of the Air Force, in partnership with the Defense Logistics Agency Energy, reached a critical milestone Aug. 31, in piloting advanced nuclear energy technology with the issuance of the Notice of Intent to Award a contract to Oklo Inc.

Oklo Inc. will site, design, construct, own and operate a micro-reactor facility licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The notice initiates the acquisition process to potentially award a 30-year, firm-fixed-price contract to the vendor after successfully obtaining an NRC license.

“The Department of the Air Force announcement today demonstrates how the Department of Defense continues to invest in facilitating U.S.-developed technology that provides mission assurance and advances our national interests in Alaska and the homeland,” said Brendan Owens, assistant secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations, and Environment.” We are watching this project closely and working with the other military departments to identify additional installations where deployment of U.S.-developed advanced nuclear technology will improve power reliability and installation resilience.”

Micro-reactors are small nuclear reactors that can produce carbon-free energy and are equipped with built-in safety features that self-adjust to changing conditions and demands to prevent overheating. The technology’s ability to operate independently from the commercial grid and reduce greenhouse gas emissions make micro-reactors a promising power source for critical national security infrastructure.

“Today is a historic first for the Air Force, state of Alaska, and the nation. Safe, reliable, clean energy using micro-reactor technology will be an integral part of Air Force installations in the future. The best part of this innovation is that we are coming together at the beginning to demonstrate this capability — partnering with key regulatory authorities, state, and local communities to ensure we get this right and do it safely,” said Dr. Ravi Chaudhary, assistant secretary of the Air Force for Energy, Installations, and Environment. “It’s a huge team effort. By seizing the initiative on this critical technology today, we are laying the foundation for American competitiveness in energy for years to come.”

As the impacts of changing environmental conditions become more recognizable, the Department understands the importance to secure energy infrastructure, supply chains and logistics to ensure mission resilience and resource availability.

“Our partnerships with Oklo Inc., Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Department of Energy, Alaska stakeholders and Tribal Nations are imperative to a successful pilot and future implementation scalability of this transformational technology,” said Nancy Balkus, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for Environment, Safety and Infrastructure.

The micro-reactor is expected to be operational by the end of 2027, as directed by the fiscal year 2019 National Defense authorization Act.

“Eielson (AFB) is eager to welcome this cutting-edge technology onto the base. The NOITA to Oklo Inc. reinforces our commitment to innovation in order to protect and defend the nation with even greater efficiency and effectiveness,” said Col. Paul P. Townsend, 354th Fighter Wing commander at Eielson AFB.

For more information on the micro-reactor pilot project, please visit their website.

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