So how did Oklo, formerly known as UPower, start?
Jacob : At MIT, I’d met my co-founder Caroline Cochran, who was also in nuclear engineering and had a background as a mechanical engineer. We started really digging into how would we do something advanced in nuclear with a startup. But we didn’t want to be technology pushers. We wanted to follow what people wanted, what people needed.
We had a series of conversations with friends and contacts who were working in power development for remote communities – for projects like mining and gas. They’d talk about how much a pain in the rear it was to get power to these remote places they were working on. The common thing to use is diesel, but it’s a big problem: There are often no roads to deliver the fuel, it’s quite unwieldy, the weather can be so severe that it will freeze, and so on.
These people would say, “Well, diesel is the most energy-dense fuel we know.” But nuclear is 2 million times as energy dense. We’d ask them, what if there was a small enough reactor that you could bring out on a job site? They all said, “Whoa, who makes that? We would buy that in a second. As many as you could make.”
And that's how you get started building the nuclear reactor of the future!