Our First Major OPEN100 Update

By Michelle Brechtelsbauer

We are excited to announce the first major update to OPEN100 — the world’s first open-source platform for the design, construction, and financing of nuclear power plants.

OPEN100 now highlights contributing organizations and experts, detailed engineering schematics, construction schedules, and an interactive economics dashboard.

A community-driven effort

Although this project was born from community feedback through EIC research projects and Titans of Nuclear, we weren’t sure how the project would initially be received. After our February launch, however, we experienced an outpouring of support and an influx of interest to participate.

To rise to the challenge, Energy Impact Center grew into a much larger organization and opened up an engineering office in Atlanta, Georgia that specializes in balance of plant design and project management. We also formed strategic collaborations enabling OPEN100 to incorporate institutional knowledge from the best-in-class laboratories, power plant developers, and nuclear industry specialists around the world. Today, we are excited to announce the expanded cohort of organizations, both domestic and international, actively collaborating to support OPEN100:

  • Idaho National Laboratory
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • Studsvik Scandpower (US)
  • Jožef Stefan Institute (Slovenia)
  • Fermi Energia (Estonia)
  • National Nuclear Laboratory (UK)
  • Electric Power Research Institute (US)
  • University of Michigan
  • Siemens (US)
  • Framatome (US)
  • ESI Inc. of Tennessee
  • Hargrove Engineering and Constructors
  • Biren Patel Engineering
  • Pittsburgh Technical
  • Dominion Engineering
  • Hogan Lovells
  • Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman

Each organization brings unique expertise and a shared commitment to the simple principle that nuclear energy should be affordable and accessible. The diversity of skills is noteworthy, with several organizations advising on aspects of core design, equipment vendors providing cost modeling, engineering firms advising on component integration, and others assisting with activities that range from construction scheduling to regulatory compliance.

EIC is proud to serve as the focal point responsible for continued project management as we create the world’s first open-source design and implementation platform for a small, standard nuclear power plant.

Technology and design updates

Energy Impact Center’s vision is to significantly expand nuclear energy worldwide, as a means to decarbonize global energy production and increase access to clean, affordable power. For this reason, OPEN100’s design prioritizes supply chain standardization and speed of delivery.

From an infrastructure and equipment perspective, there is not much difference between any thermal power plant and a small nuclear plant, aside from the Nuclear Steam Supply System. As such, the balance of plant work has been straightforward. Specific technical activities include an evaluation of the mechanical control used in the reactor, looking at an option of control drums, rather than control rods, to take advantage of simplification in a skinny core.

Detailed engineering schematics are now available on the OPEN100 website including process engineering design, electrical design, preliminary equipment specifications, CAD modeling, and site layout. Future updates will provide additional neutronic analysis, probabilistic risk assessment, and more.

New tools for project planning, construction, and economics

We also recognize that a critical barrier to the wider deployment of nuclear energy involves effective project management and access to capital. To this end, OPEN100’s engineering files are accompanied by a detailed construction timeline and an interactive economics dashboard, each providing greater transparency for project stakeholders.

Reinventing the nuclear business model

The free and publicly-accessible nature of OPEN100’s reference plant is modeled after the fundamentals of the real estate industry, where scalability and business success are driven by efficient project management and do not rely on proprietary technology. This is a fundamental departure from how the nuclear energy industry operates today. With few units produced each year, the very nature of “proprietary technology” leads to misaligned incentives between the nuclear vendor and EPC.

According to the recent 2020 World Nuclear Industry Status Report, “The number of operating reactors in the world has dropped by nine over the past year to 408… below the level already reached in 1988, and 30 units away from the historic peak 438 in 2002.” This trend must be reversed.

With OPEN100, we aim to encourage the growth of a robust developer industry, one that relies on a set of common standards that taps into an existing supply chain and enables fast-tracked licensing. In this way, we can provide the world with a clear pathway to a sustainable, low cost, zero-carbon future.

Visit www.open-100.com to learn more.

Energy Impact Center is a Washington-DC based research institute focused on nuclear energy deployment as a means to rapidly decarbonize global energy production & increase access to clean, affordable power.

Michelle Brechtelsbauer is the Director of Stakeholder Relations at Energy Impact Center and a Women Leaders in Energy Fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center. You can follow her on Twitter @msbrech and LinkedIn.

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