Breakthrough for the future liquid nuclear reactor
Researchers from Oxford and Lund have now conducted experiments showing that the sodium hydroxide salt works best at reducing reactions in melting furnaces. This technology is indicated as a hub for future nuclear power plants.
The tests were carried out by Seaborg, which plans to build floating nuclear power plants in Southeast Asia by 2025. Company co-founder Espen Klingby previously holds a doctorate from European Solution Source, ESS, in Lund. He contacted ESS to help Seaborg prepare and calculate the highly specialized data required for their authorization process.
With ESS London still under construction, testing has been carried out on the Neutron and Moon Source (ISIS) in the UK, while ESS experts are helping the company calculate the results.
– Worldwide, there are only three to four teams that can do such special calculations, including ESS. So this is a prime example of the cyclical effects of a factory like ESS being built in Sweden, says Julia Aberg, ESS Press spokesperson, New Technique.
Calculations show that sodium hydroxide is more suitable as an evaluator in nuclear power plants based on salt fusion. In a nuclear reactor, an evaluator slows down the neutrons which cause chain reactions, thus releasing the energy necessary for the operation of the turbines capable of producing electricity. If the neutrons move too fast, the likelihood of a fission reaction decreases, which means the reactor either decreases or shuts down completely.
Reduces the risk of a furnace accident
Reactor-based salt fusion reactors are often isolated as a promising technology for the future as the risk of reactor accidents is significantly reduced compared to current reactors, while the remaining materials cannot be used for the reactor. production of nuclear weapons.
The technology itself is not new, but was developed in the United States in the 1950s and 1960s. The first ideas were to dissolve nuclear fuel in molten fluoride salt and have graphite as the evaluator. However, due to major technological challenges, the technology was never commercialized.
Seaborg’s variant uses sodium hydroxide as an evaluator, and unlike graphite, sodium hydroxide is not broken down by radiation over time. This means that in the meantime Seaborg assumes that the reactor can operate for twelve years without changing assessors. This is three times more than the salt melting furnaces of the 1950s and 1960s could withstand with graphite.
Longevity is an important factor
Longevity is a key factor in whether the Seaborg solution can be economically competitive. With the help of researchers from ISIS and ESS, the floating power plant projects can now proceed as planned.
– There is strong cooperation with ISIS and ESS experts, from which we have obtained the most precise measurements. The analyzes are not yet complete, but from the data we have received, I can already say that this confirms our expectations regarding the excellent evaluation properties of sodium hydroxide, Espen Klingby says in a statement.