LeadCold seals funding agreement with Essel

26 January 2017

LeadCold, the lead-cooled small nuclear reactor technology company, has said licensing and construction of a demonstration SEALER (Swedish Advanced Lead Fast Reactor) in Canada has moved a step closer thanks to $200 million in funding from Essel Group Middle East.

In October last year, Essel Group ME - a subsidiary of Indian multinational conglomerate Essel Group - announced it had agreed to invest $18 million in Swedish-Canadian LeadCold. Essel said that funded was intended to enable LeadCold to complete a pre-licensing design review of the SEALER reactor with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) and to aid research and development efforts necessary to obtain a licence to build commercial SEALER units in Canada".

However, LeadCold has now announced that it signed an investment and financing agreement for $200 million on 20 January, which it said will enable it to license and construct "the world's first privately funded lead-cooled nuclear power plant.

SEALER SMR - 250 (LeadCold)
A cutaway of the SEALER reactor design (Image: LeadCold)

"Using advanced technology, small nuclear reactors may provide clean and safe base-load energy in locations where today diesel power is the only choice, such as in Arctic regions, remote islands, off-grid communities, mining and the shipping industry," it said, adding that diesel generators are responsible for 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

The small lead-cooled SEALER design is claimed to generate 3-10 MWe over a 10-30 year period without refueling. After operation, the first SEALER units will be transported to a centralised recycling facility.

LeadCold says its engineers have developed novel aluminium steel alloys that are highly corrosion-resistant in contact with liquid lead. This, the company claims, "addresses the major obstacle having hampered the commercial implementation of this technology".

In late December, the CNSC agreed to conduct phase 1 of a vendor design review for the SEALER design concept. A pre-licensing vendor design review is an assessment, carried out at the request of a vendor, of a nuclear power plant design based on its reactor technology. The objective of the review is to verify the acceptability of a design with respect to Canadian nuclear regulatory requirements and expectations, as well as Canadian codes and standards. It does not certify a reactor design or involve the issuance of a licence. The review is estimated to take 15 months according to LeadCold's schedule for submissions.

The investment agreement with Essel Group ME will enable LeadCold to complete the prelicensing review with the CNSC; complete a detailed engineering design of the reactor; carry out the R&D necessary for licensing the design in Canada; and, licence and construct a full-scale 3 MWe demonstration unit.

"Our small reactor technology was designed on the basis of actual scientific progress, in order to meet the demands of a real market. Our ability to attract this significant funding from an industrial investor recognises that," said LeadCold CEO Janne Wallenius.

Also in December, LeadCold signed a roadmap agreement with KIC InnoEnergy - the European company for innovation in sustainable energy - to work together to commercialise the use of SEALER in off-grid applications.

LeadCold aims to obtain a licence to construct a demonstration SEALER unit in Canada by the end of 2021. It anticipates having the unit ready for operation in 2025. The company estimates the future cost of purchasing a SEALER reactor at CAD100 million ($76 million).

LeadCold is a spin-off from the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, where lead-cooled reactor systems have been under development since 1996. The company was founded in 2013 as a joint stock company. It has a Canadian subsidiary registered in Alberta, Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News