July 12, 2023
Oklo is to go public by merging with AltC Acquisition Corp – co-founded by Oklo chairman Sam Altman – in a deal which values the company at USD850 million.
How an Oklo plant might look (Image: Oklo)
Altman is AltC CEO and has been chairman of Oklo since 2015. AltC, a special purpose acquisition vehicle, was co-founded by Altman and Churchill Capital in 2021 “to provide public investors access to a compelling ‘hard tech’ opportunity”.
Oklo, founded in 2013, plans to commercialize its liquid metal fast reactor technology with the Aurora ‘powerhouse’, a fast neutron reactor that uses heat pipes to transport heat from the reactor core to a supercritical carbon dioxide power conversion system to generate electricity. The powerhouse uses metallic high-assay low-enriched uranium, or HALEU, fuel to produce about 15 MWe as well as producing usable heat.
Oklo obtained a site use permit from the US Department of Energy for its first reactor at the Idaho National Laboratory site in 2019 and its aim is for that to become the first commercially advanced reactor deployed in the USA, by 2026.
It says it has “a robust pipeline of potential customer engagements across a number of industries and signed non-binding indications of interest that it believes could result in sales of over 700 MWe”. It said the units can be installed across a wide variety of sites, can run for a decade on fresh or recycled fuel before needing refueling and says its target customers would include “data centres, utilities, defense facilities, communities, factories, and industrial sites “.
Jacob DeWitte, Co-Founder and CEO of Oklo, said: “Our long-term goal is to build a wide range of advanced fission power plants, including small and large designs and designs that are economically competitive. AltC supports our mission and brings an extensive commercial network and executive expertise. We have advanced our technology, regulatory engagement and business model to a critical inflection point, and the substantial capital that we have the opportunity to raise from this transaction will be crucial in Oklo’s positioning for continued success.”
Altman, whose other business roles include being a co-founder of OpenAI, said: “I have long been interested in the potential that nuclear energy offers to provide clean, reliable, and affordable energy on a large scale. It has been a pleasure to be involved with Oklo over the last eight years and I strongly believe it is the best positioned player to pursue the commercialization of advanced fission energy solutions.Oklo is underpinned by demonstrated technology and has a design approach that is expected to reduce plant complexity, costs, and construction time, allowing for streamlined deployment. Oklo has a site and fuel secured for its first plant, which it expects to be online in 2026 or 2027, and it has strong and growing customer interest in future deployments.”
Both boards have approved the merger which, subject to shareholder approval, will close late this year or in early 2024. In the announcement of the merger Oklo said the transaction was “expected to provide up to USD 500 million of gross capital with net proceeds going to accelerate Oklo’s business plan and fund the first deployment of the Aurora powerhouse”.
Researched and written by World Nuclear News