Argonne National Laboratory

A big GAIN for small nuclear energy businesses

January 2, 2018

Researchers Elia Merzari and Aleksander Obabko, as well as other scientists at Argonne, will share their nuclear expertise with two small businesses as a result of voucher awards through the U.S. Department of Energy Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) initiative.

GAIN is a competitive program that provides access to national laboratory capabilities at no cost. Merzari and Obabko will work with two California-based companies: Oklo Inc. and Kairos Power.

Oklo Inc. is developing an innovative fast reactor cooled by liquid metals. Under a previous GAIN voucher agreement, researchers from Idaho National Laboratory (INL) and Argonne provided Oklo with legacy data about metallic fuels that may be relevant to the fuel the company wants to use in its reactor. With the new voucher award, Argonne plans to help the company investigate safety issues.

“Safety is naturally a major concern in the design of innovative nuclear reactors,” said Elia Merzari, a computational scientist in Argonne’s Mathematics and Computer Science Division and Nuclear Engineering Division. “We will help Oklo simulate their reactor’s response to postulated accident scenarios.”

Argonne will also partner with INL researchers in a new GAIN-supported project with Kairos Power. The aim is to improve the computational modeling of fluid flow and heat transfer in Kairos Power’s high-temperature liquid-salt cooled reactor.

Through GAIN, voucher recipients share costs and equipment and in turn benefit from Argonne’s expertise in modeling, analysis, and high-performance computing.


Further information on Argonne’s role in GAIN is on the web at