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U.S. Eielson Air Force Base to Pioneer High-Speed Microreactor for Groundbreaking Nuclear Power Pilot

Photo: Over Defense

The landscape of defense energy is poised for a groundbreaking transformation as the United States Eielson Air Force base unveils plans to deploy its inaugural nuclear microreactor under the Federal Nuclear Microreactor Pilot Program.

U.S. Eielson Air Force Base to Pioneer High-Speed Microreactor for Groundbreaking Nuclear Power Pilot (Photo: POWER Magazine)

Microreactor Pinnacle at Eielson Air Force Base

According to the news reported by POWER Magazine, in August 31, 2023, Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska stands as the chosen site for this pioneering initiative, with the selected technology firm, Aurora Powerhouse, set to usher in an era of advanced nuclear energy. This undertaking aims to secure mission assurance through resilient power solutions, ensuring a carbon-free energy source with self-regulating safety features. As this venture aligns with national security infrastructure, the broader implications of this microreactor deployment reverberate across defense energy procurement strategies.

At the forefront of innovation, Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska will host the United States Air Force’s first nuclear microreactor as part of the Federal Nuclear Microreactor Pilot Program. The Defense Logistics Agency’s recent announcement of its intent to award Aurora Powerhouse, a nuclear technology firm headquartered in Santa Clara, California, signifies a monumental step towards implementing this revolutionary energy source.

Oklo, the company behind Aurora Powerhouse, will oversee the design, construction, ownership, and operation of the microreactor. While the Defense Department handles the land lease and power purchase agreement, the ultimate operation hinges upon Oklo securing the necessary operating license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The decision to establish the microreactor at Eielson Air Force Base is strategically driven by its energy needs, existing infrastructure, and climatic compatibility, reflecting the pivotal role it plays in ensuring mission assurance.

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Microreactor Dynamics and Oklo’s Expansion Endeavors

In a recent news released by Air Force Military News, under the umbrella of the Micro-Reactor Pilot Program, this ambitious project spotlights the potential of microreactors to furnish reliable, adaptable, and environmentally sustainable energy. These compact powerhouses boast intrinsic safety mechanisms that autonomously adjust to varying conditions, reducing the risk of overheating. Oklo’s Aurora Powerhouse emerges as a notable player in this transformative landscape, with its vertically oriented compact passive fast-spectrum reactor, rooted in the legacy of the Experimental Breeder Reactor-II.

The company’s innovative design harnesses liquid metal as a cooling agent and employs high-assay, low-enriched uranium (HALEU) fuel to achieve efficiency. This landmark collaboration also extends to partnerships with entities like Idaho National Laboratory and Centrus, aimed at bolstering fuel supply and expanding the deployment of microreactors. As this cutting-edge energy solution unfolds at Eielson Air Force Base, its success resonates as a potential blueprint for enhancing power reliability and resilience across defense installations nationwide.

The forthcoming installation of a nuclear microreactor at Eielson Air Force Base positions the U.S. Air Force at the vanguard of defense energy innovation. By leveraging advanced nuclear technology, the military aims to fortify mission assurance while minimizing environmental impact. With Oklo’s Aurora Powerhouse leading the charge, the path is paved not only for enhanced energy solutions but also for potential expansion into other defense installations. As the world watches this remarkable endeavor unfold, its outcomes could reshape energy strategies for security-focused operations and contribute to a greener, more sustainable future.

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