The abstract to my master's thesis in nuclear engineering titled: Design for Cost Methodology Applied to High Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactors
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 is like a Toyota Corolla – an order of magnitude cheaper than competitor’s “high performance” rocket systems, the Ferraris, but achieving the same basic transport requirements with greater reliability and safety. Before Falcon, space launch was a Ferrari-like industry, with handmade, highly specialized, extremely expensive vehicles targeting government customers and fully complicit in the inefficiencies of government contracting. Similarly, the nuclear industry produces and still designs Ferrari-like fission reactors, with high performance metrics in terms of power density and unit power, at a megaproject scale, but with high system and operational complexity, extreme development cost, numerous part counts, and very low production and deployment rates that still require human-machine interface to meet societal safety objectives. The demand for nuclear Ferraris in the U.S., particularly within non-traditional energy utilities is very low, as few competent utilities want unique reactors with such high capital costs, running at such high power that low probability accidents can have offsite consequences. Where is the nuclear Corolla?