Swedish agency provides funds to help develop technology for small nuclear reactor
The Swedish Energy Agency, which falls under the Swedish Ministry of Infrastructure, has provided funding of $10.6 million to support the construction of a demonstration small modular nuclear reactor (SMR) in the country. The funding was granted to Swedish Modular Reactors AB, a joint venture between local companies Uniper Sweden and LeadCold.
LeadCold is a spin-off from the Royal Swedish Institute of Technology (abbreviated as KTH in Swedish), while Uniper Sweden is a subsidiary of Germany-based international energy group Uniper. The two companies and KTH jointly announced in February last year that they would jointly explore building a Swedish-designed SMR demonstrator.
The affected SMR design is called SEALER, an acronym for Swedish Advanced Lead Reactor. It will use liquid lead as the coolant (instead of water or gas, as used in alternative designs), and will be “passively safe” – i.e. if something goes wrong, the reactor would shut down on its own, without any need for human intervention. Using a lead coolant will result in a very compact reactor.
However, liquid lead-cooled reactors have only ever been used by the former Soviet Union, which powered its seven “Alpha-class” nuclear attack submarines with such reactors. But the Alphas (a codename of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, as the Russians did not then publish their official designations for their ships) served between nine and 12 years only before being decommissioned ( the only exception was its liquid lead reactor replaced by a conventional pressurized reactor). water reactor).
Thus, funding from the Swedish Energy Agency was to help build a test facility or a non-nuclear electrical prototype that would test and verify the systems and materials to be used in the construction of the current SMR. This prototype would be on a 1:56 scale and would be located at the Oskarshamn nuclear power plant. It was planned to start operating in 2024 and operate for five years.
“The technology can eventually be developed into cost-effective fossil-free baseload energy and thus help facilitate electrification for a transition to a fossil-free society,” the Swedish Energy Agency said. The SEALER SMR was to be capable of producing 3 MWe to 10 MWe over a lifetime of 10 to 30 years. It could also be used to produce hydrogen. The reactors would be produced as sealed units and would not need to be refueled during their lifetime. Once they reach the end of their life, they would be transported to a recycling plant.