Nuclear power’s function in combating climate modification is a contentious subject, but a Silicon Valley business owner believes he can sway the debate by releasing open-source styles for a small-scale reactor that could be integrated in two years for simply $300 million.
The argument for making nuclear power part of our action to climate modification is compelling: the fuel is abundant, it releases no greenhouse gas emission s throughout operations, and it’s capable of producing huge quantities of energy.
However security concerns, expense, and the question of what to make with the radioactive waste produced indicate it’s failed to capture the zeitgeist.
After selling his drone company Airphrame in 2017 he decided to take on environment change, founding a non-profit research organization called the Energy Impact Center(EIC). And quite rapidly, he came to the conclusion that nuclear power i s the way forward.
To advance his vision, recently EIC introduced the OPEN100 project, which Kugelmass states will provide open-source plans for the design, building, and funding of a 100- megawatt nuclear reactor. H e declares the reactor c an be developed for $300 million in less than two years, significantly decreas ing the per-kilowatt expense of nuclear power
” Nuclear power isn’t just part of the option to resolving environment change; it is the service,” Kugelmass s aid in a news release “O PEN100 will significantly change the way we release nuclear reactor moving forward, providing a considerably less pricey and less complex option.”
The logic behind the idea is that the most significant barr ier to the extensive usage of nuclear is the expense of building reactors, which most specialists would concur is a major issue for the industry. Kugelmass thinks that’s due to the fact that we’ve been focused on big, excessively complex reactors that take far too long to construct. His option is to return to tried and tested pressurized water reactors from the previous century, and bring their cost down even further through standardization and a focus on fast building and construction
The path to this conclusion was an evaluation of the nuclear market by EIC staff involving 1,500 interviews with specialists in whatever from innovation to economics and policy. The group utilized this analysis to assemble an open-source design template for developing and building a nuclear power plant.
Kugelmass isn’t the only one convinced that shrinking reactors is the way to revive interest in nuclear power. Numerous companies are developi ng ” small modular reactors” tha t promise to be both more affordable and safer. NuScale in the United States is close to releasing its very first plant, and Rolls-Royce in the UK and the Chinese and Russian federal governments are al so working on designs.
Any claims about how quickly and inexpensively a reactor c an be developed ought to be taken with a grain of salt in a market w h ere costly overruns are the standard. At present, OPEN100’s plans consist of basic 3D shells of components like reactor vessels or turbines, without any detail on how they work– though the company’s website states more in-depth models will be launched in the coming months.
There’s likewise extensive skepticism about how transformative the shift to smaller reactors w ould be, with many professionals stating they fac e the exact same cost and security issues as the i r larger cousins. Kugelmass is bullish on the safety front, informing POWER that the low number of cas u alties from the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe revealed that nuclear plants have comparable dangers of accidents as any other industrial plant, with likewise moderate effects.
But safety concerns don’t only revolve around the danger of crisis. A ll nuclear plants create large amounts of long-li f e radioactive waste that no country has actually yet exercised how to deal with. And no matter what the facts are, popular opinion is broadly unwelcoming to new nuclear advancement; the HBO series Chernobyl didn’t help.
However, the costs of renewable energy are drop ing and advances in utility-scale energy storage are beginning to supply services to the intermittency of wind and sun. If th e se trends continue, they could call into question the rationale for a significant financial investment in brand-new nuclear technology– though by some price quotes, e ven if the solar and wind intermittency issue is resolved and battery storage capacity enhances, exclusively depending on these sources will not be enough to meet future energy requirements.
Th is doesn’t seem to prevent Kugelmass, however. To coincide with the launch of OPEN100 he also released a for-profit EIC spin-off called Last Energy that will seek to connect personal financiers with opportunities to develop new nuclear projects all over the world. W e might quickly be find ing out whether open-source nuclear power has any legs.
Image Credit: Open100