X-energy opens operations, training center

March 20, 2024, 7:00AMNuclear News
X-energy employees gathered for a ribbon-cutting at its new training facility, Plant Support Center. (Photo: X-energy)

X-energy has opened a regional operations and training center aimed at supporting future deployment of its advanced modular nuclear reactor fleet and the operators who will run it.

The new Frederick, Md.–based facility—called the Plant Support Center—aims to centralize fleet management, monitoring, and training. X-energy plans to open additional regional centers to support growth in its reactor fleet.

The training portion of the facility centers on a complete control room simulator that integrates real-time plant instrumentation and control systems in a 3D virtual reality environment. This will provide trainees with hands-on experience before they go to work in the field. The company is still finalizing its training program but will be able to accommodate up to 52 trainees when it’s up and running.

Quotable: “This first center is just the starting point of our advanced nuclear reactor fleet support strategy and a significant part of X-energy’s business growth,” said J. Clay Sell, X-energy’s chief executive officer. “Our customers expect much lower operating and maintenance costs than the large conventional nuclear fleet today, and X-energy is bringing an innovative model to the market to meet that need.”

“Modernizing and centralizing fleet services will help drive the cost-competitiveness of our Xe-100 [small modular reactor] technology as well as establish the potential for a sustainable, long-term business that generates consistent and recurring revenue for X-energy.”

A closer look: In collaboration with the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E) and the Electric Power Research Institute, X-energy developed a digital twin maintenance laboratory and continuous fleet monitoring and diagnostics capabilities for the center.

X-energy is combining this technology with artificial intelligence and machine learning into a suite of proprietary tools it has named Xe-100 Data Analytics Tools & Applications, or X-DATA. The company said these products will improve reliability and reduce predictive and preventative maintenance costs for customers.

The future fleet: X-energy announced plans in early 2023 to install its first Xe-100 high-temperature, gas-cooled reactor at one of Dow Chemicals’ Gulf Coast plants in Texas. It is also working with Energy Northwest in Washington state on the development of up to 12 Xe-100 units, each capable of 80 MW, to come on line by 2030.

As the X-energy fleet grows, the company plans to add regional centers to provide support services to Xe-100 owners and operators on business services such as plant diagnostics, maintenance planning, outage scheduling, supply chains, human resources, and regulatory compliance.

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