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December 12, 2023 | Tom Ballard

Nuclear Regulatory Commission approves construction permit for Hermes reactor

A separate application for an operating license will be required for Kairos Power to operate the demonstration reactor at the Heritage Center Industrial Park in Oak Ridge.

Good news for the emergence of new nuclear facilities and technologies in the region.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) voted on Tuesday to issue a construction permit to Kairos Power for the Hermes demonstration reactor to be built at the Heritage Center Industrial Park in Oak Ridge. It is a critical step on Kairos Power’s iterative pathway to commercializing its advanced reactor technology. The Hermes reactor will demonstrate the company’s ability to deliver clean, safe, and affordable nuclear heat. 

The Commission’s vote to issue the Hermes construction permit follows the NRC staff’s thorough review of the application, which was completed well ahead of an already aggressive projected schedule. This efficient review was possible due to Kairos Power’s extensive pre-application engagement with the NRC, which began in 2018 and established open lines of communication between the two organizations.  

Rendering of Hermes 1.

“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. We are excited for this next phase in the deployment of the Hermes reactor, and we remain committed to being a good community partner to our neighbors in Oak Ridge as we bring value to the region and build on its nuclear legacy. With the Hermes construction permit now approved, Kairos Power is demonstrating our leadership in developing advanced nuclear reactors and we have made a big step forward on our path to deploying clean, safe, reliable, and affordable energy in East Tennessee and beyond,” said Mike Laufer, Kairos Power Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer.

A separate application for an operating license and subsequent NRC approval will be required before Kairos Power can operate the Hermes demonstration reactor in accordance with the two-step, 10 CFR Part 50 licensing process.  

In parallel, the NRC is currently reviewing Kairos Power’s construction permit application for Hermes 2, a proposed two-unit demonstration plant that would build on the learnings from Hermes, demonstrating the complete architecture of Kairos Power’s future commercial plants at a reduced scale and supplying electricity to the grid.  


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