Essel Group Middle East (EGME) - a subsidiary of Indian multinational Essel Group - has agreed to invest $18m in Swedish-Canadian lead-cooled small nuclear reactor technology company LeadCold Reactors. EGME said the investment is intended to enable LeadCold to complete a pre-licensing design review of the Swedish Advanced Lead Reactor (SEALER), with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), and to support the research necessary to obtain a construction licence for such units in Canada. LeadCold plans to enter Phase 1 of the CNSC pre-licence review in 2016 wit the aim of receiving a licence for construction in Canada by end of 2021 for operation in 2025.
LeadCold says SEALER is a lead-cooled fast reactor designed with the smallest possible core that can achieve criticality using 19.9% enriched uranium oxide (UOX) fuel. The rate of electricity production is expected to range between 3MWe and 10MWe, which would enable a core life of 10-30 full power years (at 90% availability). The reactor is designed to maintain a maximum temperature of the lead coolant below 450°C, so that corrosion of fuel cladding and structural materials would be a manageable over a life-span of several decades.
Use of a lead coolant means that the core can manage a complete loss of off-site power for weeks before integrity of the fuel rods is challenged. Should any volatile fission products be released into the coolant, 99.99% will be chemically retained by the lead. Hence, no accident scenario can lead to a situation where evacuation becomes necessary.