LeadCold has designed a small nuclear reactor – SEALER (Swedish Advanced Lead Reactor) – that addresses the need for reliable, sustainable and less costly power in off-grid sites.
Power production in off-grid communities and mining sites often relies on diesel generators, which results in high costs plus detrimental effects on health and environment. This situation is especially problematic in arctic communities, where expenditures for electricity can amount to 10% of GDP. Moreover, although many arctic regions are rich in natural resources, utilising their commercial potential is hampered by excessive costs for power, which may constitute more than one third of the total cost for producing a finished commodity. An affordable, reliable and sustainable off-grid alternative to diesel generators would thus be most welcome. Small nuclear power plants can meet this need – as long as they fulfil the key condition that no conceivable accident should require evacuation of site workers or communities.
In collaboration with the Swedish steel industry, the founders of LeadCold have developed an aluminium-alloyed steel (Fe-10Cr-4Al-Zr) that is highly corrosion resistant during long-term exposure to molten lead. Based on this technological breakthrough, the company has designed a small reactor named SEALER (Swedish Advanced Lead Reactor).
SEALER uses conventional uranium oxide fuel to produce 3-10 MW of electric power without fuel reload. The lower level is adequate for supplying power to arctic communities and corresponds to a reactor life of 30 years. The higher level is suitable for mining applications and has a core-life of ten years. Importantly, the residual waste produced by both types requires less than 1000 years of storage, in strong contrast to the more than 100,000 years’ storage needed for the high-level waste produced by today’s nuclear reactors. Furthermore, no accident scenario can lead to a situation where evacuation becomes necessary.
Janne Wallenius (CEO and founder of LeadCold) is Professor of Reactor Physics at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Stockholm, where he has conducted research on the design and safety analysis of lead-cooled reactor systems for 20 years. He has published over 90 peer-reviewed scientific articles, successfully supervised 10 PhD theses, written a text-book on transmutation of nuclear waste, and co-ordinated three EU-projects.
Peter Szakálos (Chairman of the Board and co-founder) obtained his PhD degree in Corrosion Science at KTH in 2004. In 2006, he started his own consulting company Szakalos Materials Science AB. His industrial consulting work has focused on corrosion/failure cases and materials development projects within the steel and aluminium industry.
Jesper Ejenstam (Materials expert and co-founder) conducted his Masters thesis at Sandvik Heating Technologies and completed his PhD on corrosion studies of aluminium bearing alloys at KTH in January 2015, where he now works as a researcher at the Division of Surface and Corrosion Science . Dr Ejenstam is responsible for qualifying the breakthrough technology that forms the basis of the SEALER reactor concept.