What would happen if everyone in the world had access to nuclear reactor blueprints? We’re about to find out. A mechanical engineer-turned-tech entrepreneur has plans to, well, empower people around the world to build their own 100-megawatt nuclear power reactors. That’s much larger than some of the modular reactors designed by nuclear startups, but still much smaller than operating nuclear power plants in the U.S.
The Energy Impact Center (EIC) is an energy nonprofit that engineer Bret Kugelmass founded in 2017. The organization’s goals are similar to other groups working toward carbon neutrality or negativity, except Kugelmass has decided “cheap nuclear” is the only avenue he wants to pursue. By doing that, he’s essentially operating a startup model, and for his technology to take hold, a new paradigm for nuclear power plants will have to be installed.
“Today, we offer reference plant schematics and a platform to compile ongoing design work. With the help of our partners and the National Labs, these drawings will evolve into a fully detailed, ready-to-build blueprint,” the project website says. It seems like EIC exists to feed new technology into the nuclear startup development pipeline, with the lampshade that nuclear is considered a cleaner power source in the carbon interregnum.
The details of Kugelmass’s plants are exciting. “This standardized pressurized water reactor (PWR) power plant is sized at 100MWe output to fit within project finance and timetable constraints,” he writes. “It is detailed enough for any utility to begin early site studies with +/- 20 [percent] cost predictability. It is abstract enough to allow for site-specific engineering details to be added, with a 50M dollar budget allocated per plant for such efforts.”