Oklo Inc has become the first developer to run tests at Argonne National Laboratory’s new Thermal Hydraulic Experimental Test Article (THETA) capability. The tests will support the licensing of liquid metal fast reactor designs. THETA is a 450-litre pool-type sodium vessel installed inside ANL’s Mechanisms Engineering Test Loop (METL) facility. THETA modelling will ultimately identify parameters that could enhance fundamental knowledge for more predictable safety margins, define higher operating temperatures, and provide more efficient power operation to support a wide range of advanced reactor designs.
Oklo is using THETA via a voucher through the DOE’s cost-shared Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear initiative. The tests will simulate various conditions, including unprotected loss of flow in a liquid-metal fast reactor, providing data to validate systems-level and high-fidelity analysis tools related to flow rate and natural circulation. Reducing uncertainties associated with fluid flow behaviour will improve the economic competitiveness of advanced reactor designs and support licensing activities. Testing is expected to be complete by the end of 2022.