In a recent episode of Azeem Azhar’s Exponential View, Troels Schönfeldt, chief executive officer of Seaborg Technologies, discussed his company’s reactor technology and other nuclear-related issues. Seaborg Technologies, which was founded in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2014, is developing a compact molten salt reactor (CMSR) that it says is safe, significantly smaller, better for the environment, and inexpensive, even compared to fossil fuels, and can be manufactured quickly and deployed on barges to any location worldwide. The Exponential View is a podcast presented by the Harvard Business Review and hosted by Azhar, an entrepreneur and investor.
Different type of reactor: “We’re designing a fundamentally different type of nuclear reactor,” Schönfeldt said. “The powerful bullet points [are] that it cannot melt down or explode, it cannot release gases, it cannot be used for nuclear weapons. It could even burn nuclear waste, so we can get rid of some of the old waste stockpiles.”
In response to Azhar’s question about the appearance and size of the CMSR, Schönfeldt said, “Well, it’s on a patch. A patch is basically just a ship with no engine. We’ll just chuck it to the harbor, and it’ll be lying there on the harbor. We’ll, of course, get some designers to make it look cool, but it’ll be in the industrial harbor so you mostly won’t see it. A 200-megawatt facility is around 100 meters long and 30 meters wide.
“One of the smart things about being on a patch is you can operate it like a maritime facility,” Schönfeldt said. “That means you could have a helicopter there, and you could fly in competent workers from anywhere you want. But you could also just have a small plank going ashore and have people come and go. The patch itself will come with a control house on the end, looking like the house on top of a ship, where there’s a kitchen and a training facility. Maybe that’s a pool on top, and there’s the control room and some cabins.”
Fundamentally safe: Schönfeldt emphasized the improved safety of advanced nuclear reactors like the CMSR. “And I will say that all the advanced reactors that different start-ups are looking at have inherent safety features, so all of them will be way more safe than existing reactors. And existing reactors are already really safe; they’re just very expensive to make safe. But a molten salt reactor takes it a step farther. It becomes fundamentally safe.”
Estimated rollout: Azhar asked Schönfeldt about the timeline for the rollout of the CMRS. “We were planning on 2026,” Schönfeldt said. “Of course, that requires a lot of things to work out. One of the things that was required was the fuel supply chain, and that would have to come from Russia to reach that timeline. Currently, I would say it’s a little bit up in the air, and my guess is 2028.”