Xendee’s Small Modular Reactor Modeling Shows Significant Carbon Reduction for University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

SAN DIEGO--()--The landscape of the electricity grid is rapidly evolving, driven by expanding electrification initiatives, renewable energy integration, and the decarbonization imperative. University campus microgrids are tackling this paradigm shift with energy transition models. The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and Xendee Corporation (Xendee) teamed up to lead this transformation.

UIUC has a sophisticated integrated energy framework, underscored by highly instrumented infrastructure and a wealth of data. The Abbott Power Plant, which delivers 100% of the thermal needs and approximately 50% of the electricity needs sits at the heart of the framework, catering to campus energy demands and engaging in electricity exchange with the broader grid. With a diverse energy portfolio encompassing natural gas, coal, solar, wind, biofuel, and geothermal sources, the UIUC's energy ecosystem is ideal for applying Xendee’s Small Modular Reactor (SMR) modeling and technical capabilities to deliver both sustainability and resilience.

First phase successfully completed

In collaboration with Idaho National Laboratory, supported by the Office of Electricity at the US Department of Energy, Xendee enhanced SMR capabilities of its microgrid modeling tool for use in the UIUC campus analysis. New features introduced by Xendee include fuel costs, decommissioning expenses, baseload operation, and reactor power maneuvering. These enhancements enable a nuanced exploration of scenarios for SMR integration within the campus microgrid and offer a glimpse into the future of energy systems. This lays the foundation for establishing a robust modeling capability within the Xendee platform tailored to the UIUC campus environment.

By providing data on existing energy supply, demand, and generation sources, the feasibilities of various decarbonization scenarios were meticulously assessed. Modeling focused on multi-energy demand fulfilled primarily by existing onsite and renewable energy technologies in combination with SMRs as future options. One key result was that the optimally designed system using SMR instead of the existing natural gas/coal-fired district heating Abbott plant reduced carbon emissions by up to 85%.

Moving into the next phase

In the current phase, the key objective is to extend the maturity of the models to deliver deeper economic insights, which are essential to the informed decision-making needed to reach 100% carbon reduction for campuses and other established microgrids. Efforts are aimed at advancing modeling details by adding granularity on building loads plus the accuracy of SMR operation on fulfilling both heat and electricity demand to completely decarbonize the system. Hundreds of buildings and the energy delivery between those campus buildings are a major part of the ongoing modeling efforts and will improve the modeling results.

Xendee plays ongoing pivotal role

Developed through decades of research, Xendee’s microgrid design and operation platform facilitates comprehensive techno-economic analysis, encompassing factors like generation, fuel costs, ROI, power flow, and CO2 emissions.

Dr. Timothy Grunloh, with the UIUC research team, says, "We are excited to leverage Xendee’s capabilities to help us research and develop avenues for integrating advanced nuclear technologies into carbon-free microgrids. This collaboration represents a crucial step towards achieving our vision for a resilient, sustainable energy future and paving the way for efficient and effective deployment of SMR technologies."

Far-reaching impact

The impact of this project extends far beyond the confines of UIUC, with potential applications ranging from fossil-to-nuclear transitions in microgrids to supporting communities with higher renewable penetration and stable base generation provided by SMRs. By harnessing the power of data-driven modeling and advanced optimization techniques, UIUC is spearheading efforts to usher in a new era of carbon-free energy systems on campuses and beyond.

About Xendee Corporation

Xendee is an award-winning software platform built to integrate the feasibility analysis, detailed engineering, and operation of Distributed Energy Resources and EV fast-charging infrastructure. This includes the ability to rapidly model EV infrastructure for fleet owners, complex energy systems with up to 25 unique DER technologies, multi-node installations like a military base, and operate either connected to the grid or wholly islanded. The Xendee techno-economic optimization algorithm can generate an ideal investment solution and operation schedule to meet organizational goals.

About University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) is a world-class research institution located in central Illinois. The Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering (NPRE) department previously successfully operated a research nuclear reactor on campus for decades. Members of the Illinois Microreactor Research, Development, and Demonstration (IMRDD) perform research on the enabling technologies that will ensure safe and economical operation of advanced reactor technologies. Members of this research center are also in the process of licensing a new research reactor on campus to further execute this mission.


Jay Gadbois
Digital Marketing Manager | Xendee

Release Summary

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and Xendee have modeled an on-campus Small Modular Reactor to reduce costs and emissions by up to 85%

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Jay Gadbois
Digital Marketing Manager | Xendee