Oklo Forges 20-yr. Nuclear PPA with Wyoming Hyperscale for 100 MW of Data Center Power

May 29, 2024
Oklo plans to build fast clean fission power along with nuclear fuel recycling capabilities.

It has been a busy year for Oklo, Inc., one of the competitors looking to develop new nuclear reactor power generation technologies that can be deployed before the end of the decade.

In May of 2023 the company announced their plan to build two of their liquid metal-cooled, metal-fueled fast reactors with a maximum power of 15 MW on a decommissioned gaseous diffusion plant site in Southern Ohio.

Oklo signed the land rights agreement with the Southern Ohio Diversification Initiative for the option and first right of refusal to buy the land to build the two facilities, the Oklo Aurora Powerhouse design.

In April of this year, Oklo signed a non-binding letter of intent to supply 50 MW of power to Texas-based independent oil and natural gas company Diamondback Energy with a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA). 

Earlier this month, Oklo announced that they had partnered with Atomic Alchemy to produce radioactive isotopes for use in medical and industrial applications only a few days after they began trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol OKLO.

And last week came the announcement of a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with Wyoming Hyperscale to deliver 100 MW of power to the data center operator's campus, using Oklo's Aurora Powerhouse reactors for power generation.

“As the widespread adoption of artificial intelligence increases, Oklo remains dedicated to providing clean, reliable, and affordable energy solutions to meet the needs of our data center partners. Our partnership with Wyoming Hyperscale underscores our commitment to advancing sustainable energy practices and supporting high-efficiency operations within the data center industry,” said Jacob DeWitte, co-founder and CEO of Oklo.

What is an Okla Aurora Powerhouse?

According to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the agency is currently engaged in pre-application activities interactions for the Oklo Aurora Powerhouse reactor.

The proposed Oklo reactors are liquid metal-cooled, metal-fueled fast reactors. Oklo builds 15 MWe and 50 MWe Powerhouses. You can find six pages of details on the process here.

The technology used in the reactors began development in 1964 with the Experimental Breeder Reactor-II, which was used to prove the concepts of fuel recycling and the ability to have passive plant safety characteristics.

The key here was that in conditions that could otherwise cause a nuclear event, the Aurora design is such that with the loss of cooling and control rods the reactor will rapidly and safely stabilize.

Compared to some of the other new nuclear technologies being proposed in the indutry, the EBR-II reactor that the Aurora Powerhouse is derived from successfully generated roughly 20 MW of power for 30 years, as an extended proof of concept for the recycling and use of nuclear waste as fuel for power generation.

Oklo received a site use permit in 2019, along with nuclear fuel for its first reactor from the Idaho National Lab in 2019.

Notably, at the Argonne National Laboratory starting in 2022, Oklo was part of a Department of Energy project to demonstrate fuel recycling.  Oklo plans to have its first Aurora Powerhouse commissioned before the end of the decade.

Who is Wyoming Hyperscale?

Wyoming Hyperscale White Box is an emerging player in the data center industry with a focus on the development of data centers that target sustainability and environmental responsibility.

The operator prides itself on incurring no water consumption and the use of liquid-cooling that addresses the concerns raised by Nvidia’s Jensen Huang when discussing the future of data center cooling.

With plans to use immersion,  single-phase DLC [direct liquid cooling] and RDHx [rear door heat exchanger] technologies to provide the cooling infrastructure, Wyoming Hyperscale is targeting a PUE of 1.12 plus energy credits for providing a reusable heat source.

Trenton Thornock, Founder and Managing Member of Wyoming Hyperscale, emphasized the Oklo PPA project's commitment to reimagining traditional data center development practices. 

"Our goal is to create data centers with minimal environmental impact. This collaboration with Oklo perfectly aligns with our vision for sustainable, efficient operations. By merging sustainability with advanced technology, we are setting a new standard for the future of accelerated computing.”

Why Wyoming?

As reported by DCF's Rich Miller in 2022, the Wyoming Hyperscale White Box project offers a vision for creating super-efficient data centers with low impact on the environment and benefits for the local community, including powering an indoor farm with heat from the data center.
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The wilds of Wyoming may seem an odd place for huge data centers. But the Wyoming Hyperscale project site sits on a major east-west fiber highway that tracks the 41st parallel, along which data center hubs have emerged in places like Ohio, Iowa, Nebraska and Utah. 

The Union-Pacific Railroad line, which provides key right-of-ways for fiber deployment, runs through nearby Aspen Mountain. Lumen is providing networking and security services for the project.

And this isn’t the first interesting project to come out of Wyoming in recent times.

For its Cheyenne data center, Microsoft is looking at using not only renewables, in the form of two wind farms that can produce up to 237 MW of power but has already collaborated with Ballard Power Systems and Caterpillar to supply reliable and sustainable backup power using large format hydrogen fuel cell technology.

Conclusion

While the letters of intent that Oklo has signed for 20-year PPAs are non-binding, they do indicate that there are quite a few areas and industries that are willing to hitch their wagons to the new generation of nuclear power generation, and who understand the value of nuclear power as a long-term, clean, renewable energy source.

 

 

Speaking very recently on Bloomberg Television, Oklo CEO Jake DeWitte says nuclear is one of the safest forms of energy and that consumers want cheap and reliable power.  DeWitte also comments on Oklo becoming a public company and utilizing AI.

 

 

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About the Author

David Chernicoff

David Chernicoff is an experienced technologist and editorial content creator with the ability to see the connections between technology and business while figuring out how to get the most from both and to explain the needs of business to IT and IT to business.

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