The ARM business model applied to nuclear and the LS reactor.
ARM dominates a large section of the embedded market for higher power processors, especially phones, routers and cable boxes, yet it makes no actual chips. It could be argued because it makes no chips.
Instead it delivers a well thought core instruction set (and its supporting documentation) with various option packages that customers can implement efficiently and find meets most of their needs. All well supported by an effective toolchain.
This set me thinking if this strategy might work if applied to the nuclear industry.
Could a reactor design be developed that could be licensed on a global scale to multiple countries with as much as possible being built locally (to standardised designs, allowing major parts to be stockpiled on a global basis)?
You might think this sounds impossible but there are precidents. The US Liberty Ships supplied 2710 ships each carrying 10200mt from 1941-45. This was done at 18 US shipyards. The engines were built y 18 mfgs. They were all interchanageable. So big things are also possible.
It's fairly obvious that there is a huge gap in the energy market IF it can meet certain criteria.
It needs to be cheap(ish) and quick(ish) to construct (like a liberty ship in fact) but it needs to go further.
It needs to be a complete solution. That means fuel and fuel assembly design, reactor and both reprocessing and refabrication. Burying used nuclear fuel in a hole in the ground for 2x longer than the entire history of civilisation sounds retarded and the result of the something-must-be-done school of policy idiocy. Because it is.
The goal is energy security. What you do when the sun don't shine, the wind don't blow (which in central Europe can last months) and the dams are empty (those are the ONLY renewable energy sources that actually deliver energy on a scale big enough to measure on a global energy map. the rest are basically a slightly thicker line between 2 wedges on the pie chart).
My instinct is no existing design (and none of the Gen IV) have the solution, but several of them have parts that could be adapted into a complete package. The problem is most of them are so bloody heavy :-(. The fuel in a PWR weighs 27 tonnes, but the vessel to hold it for Hinckly Point C weighs about 850 tonnes, mostly because it's 200mm thick and there are maybe 6-8 forges that can build one worldwide.
Not exactly the "build anywhere" kind of spec.
OTOH it does have zircaloy tubes that have a melting point of 1850c and uranium dioxide pellets that melt at 2500c. In fact if you dumped the water you could crank up the operating temperature quite a bit.
A huge slab of the existing cost BTW is the "finance" IE the interest charges on the £22Bn of borrowed cash to build this thing, and it doesn't start generating revenue till the whole things finished. I think we all know how well "Big bang" projects work at being on time and on budget.
Imagine if the 3260MW of HPC was split into 250MW chunks (large number of steam turbine mfgs at this size for coal and oild fired stations IF you can generate steam at matching conditions, as the AGR's did). If that first chunk took 4 years to build (as fossile fuel stations do) it would already be generating revenue. If the rest of the capacity rolled out at (for example) 6 month intervals (which is how long it's taken to lay the whole foundations, including the worlds longest continuos concrete pour of 5 days, longer than the Shard. I am soooo impressed. The whole conrete budget is 3 000 000 tonnes) most of the capcity would be online in the same timeframe EXCEPT a it would already be paying back those monster interest charges by the time the real Hinckly Point C starts its (no doubt) prolonged startup testing.
The human race faces (to coin a phrase) a "Climate emergency" (the planet does not. It could not give a f**k if the human race collectively disappeared tomorrow).
I beleive that better is possible. A lot better. The question is how?