Open-source nuclear reactor blueprint aims to streamline plant design

March 06, 2020 //By Rich Pell
Open-source nuclear reactor blueprint aims to streamline plant design
Energy nonprofit organization The Energy Impact Center (EIC) says it is releasing open-source designs for a small-scale reactor that could be built in two years for just $300 million.

In pursuit of that goal, the organization has launched the OPEN100 project, which will provide open-source blueprints for the design, construction, and financing of a 100-megawatt nuclear reactor. The organization sees nuclear energy - especially nuclear plants that are more affordable and competitive than current designs - as the solution to the challenges of climate change.

The standardized pressurized water reactor power plant design, says the organization, is detailed enough for any utility to begin early site studies with +/-20% cost predictability. It is abstract enough to allow for site-specific engineering details to be added, with a 50 million dollar budget allocated per plant for such efforts.

"Nuclear power isn't just part of the solution to addressing climate change; it is the solution," says Kugelmass, Managing Director of the Energy Impact Center. "OPEN100 will radically change the way we deploy nuclear power plants going forward, offering a substantially less expensive and less complicated solution."

For the past 50 years, says the organization, the deployment of nuclear power plants around the world has suffered from rising costs and delays associated with overly complicated and proprietary designs. EIC created OPEN100 to serve as a foundation for new power plant construction, offering developers everything from a web interface to visualize plant and component design, costs studies, and construction plans.

"Instead of building bigger or more complex projects," says Kugelmass, "cost reductions will be achieved by going back to a simpler, more streamlined process and adopting today’s best practices in construction — focusing on standardization and speed of delivery. Simply put, we can course-correct the nuclear industry’s downfall by taking what worked in the beginning and right-sizing it to fit today’s capital, infrastructure, and supply-chain constraints."

The open-source format, says the organization, will allow startups, engineering firms, global utilities, and capital markets to align around a common framework, and the OPEN100 model caters towards a number of key stakeholders:

  • Utilities can conduct feasibility studies

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