Jacob Dewitte (CEO Oklo): Taking things nuclear

jacobdewittetechcrunchdisruptsf2015daygfh2wfosefclJACOB Dewitte is a man unafraid of urging more and more nations to embrace nuclear technology. And as economies the world over begin to look for cheaper and more sustainable methods of powering their countries, he might just be the person to lead the way.

It may be a name unfamiliar to many, but we should expect to hear more from Jacob Dewitte as his personal agenda of embracing a better appreciation for nuclear power begins to snowball across the globe.

When world leaders gathered in Paris two years ago at the COP21 conference to debate the impact of global warming, it became abundantly clear that more needed to be done to curb our reliance upon fossil fuels. The solution, and an urgent one at that, must be found in economic alternatives to the coal-fired power stations which are still plentiful in the developing world.

Step forward Dewitte, founder and CEO of Oklo, and the development of what, one day, might become mini nuclear reactors for the home.

Dewitte has assembled a small team of remarkable scientists who are currently building a tiny, single use, solid-state nuclear power plant capable of generating and sustaining two megawatts of energy for more than a decade. It has the potential to save households around 90% on their current bills, all while negating the need for power stations to burn any kind of fuel.

Oklo’s prevailing designs are also ‘fuel agnostic’ meaning the small reactors convert energy from uranium, thorium or – as is the preferred case – recycled nuclear waste. At present, the world has enough stockpiles of nuclear detritus to deliver several centuries of clean energy.
Although somewhat hindered by international regulations over the use of components, Dewitte is leading the way in efforts to bring ‘new nuclear power’ into the mainstream.
Dewitte’s focus came about after talking to small companies based in remote areas of the USA and Canada – places where diesel-guzzling generators are viewed as the most energy and cost effective sources of power.

Regulatory hurdles aside, Oklo (named after the planet’s only-discovered natural nuclear fission reaction in the Central African state of Gabon) is edging closer to a production model with a compact and portable nuclear reactor some two million times as energy-dense as diesel.

Within 25 years, according to Dewitte, it is quite feasible that modern homes could have a miniature nuclear reactor squirreled away under the sink.