Microreactors present an opportunity to revolutionize the role of nuclear energy via the development of these technologies in a diverse and distributed energy network for a clean energy future. Because of the limited output of these novel systems, the deployment of microreactors should be focused on high-value applications in order to realize their full potential. This involves understanding the microreactor performance and how it interacts with the preexisting infrastructure. In this work, an energy-diverse embedded grid is modeled using OpenModelica in order to study the impact of microreactor integration under several distinct deployment approaches. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) is used as a prototypic market due to its well-characterized energy ecosystem with available extensive real-time and historical data. The UIUC model recreates the existing chilled-water, steam, and electricity infrastructure, including wind, solar, and cogeneration sources. The infrastructure model simulates the interplay between the three utilities and how different microreactor integration approaches would impact UIUC’s embedded grid. From this study, the deployment of a single microreactor under electric load-conditioning, steam production retrofit, or a hybrid of both is found to be the most appropriate in consideration of their unique advantages toward cost savings and grid resilience. Meanwhile, if grid resiliency is not a main objective, the greatest emissions reduction and cost-savings benefits can be obtained by operating the reactor in a base-loading configuration. This study employed historically low coal and gas prices and provided a conservatively low estimate for the benefits from a microreactor. Given the price volatility of fossil fuels, the benefits of the microreactor are expected to be greater than this estimate. Finally, the modular nature of the modeling framework allows for an extension of the analysis to other similar embedded grids.
- clean energy
- cogeneration, emissions
- embedded grid
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Nuclear and High Energy Physics
- Nuclear Energy and Engineering
- Condensed Matter Physics