Steady Energy, a spin-out company from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, has raised €2 million ($2.2 million) in seed funding to build the world’s first LDR-50 reactor-based heating plant by 2030.
The funding round was led by VTT, Yes VC and Lifeline Ventures.
According to Steady Energy, the funding will be used for research and development work and to build a full-scale demo plant powered by electric heat.
The Low-temperature District heating Reactor or LDR-50 is a small modular nuclear reactor with a heat output of 50 MW, which has been in development at VTT since 2020.
The LDR-50 is sufficient for heating a small city. A single heating plant can have multiple reactors and can be modified to produce steam for industrial purposes.
It’s designed to operate at around 150 degrees Celsius and below 10 bar (145 psi), operating conditions less demanding than those of traditional reactors, stated Steady Energy.
“The pressure required by the LDR-50 reactor is comparable to the pressure of a household espresso machine. It operates at a lower pressure than a district heating network. This ensures that in case of a malfunction which leads to a leak, the leak is contained within the heating plant, without endangering people or the environment,” says Tommi Nyman, CEO of Steady Energy.
The LDR-50 nuclear reactor uses a passive heat removal solution which makes it safer. The LDR-50 reactor module is made of two nested pressure vessels, with their intermediate space partially filled with water.
When heat removal through the primary heat exchangers is compromised, water in the intermediate space begins to boil, forming an efficient passive heat transfer route into the reactor pool.
The system does not rely on electricity or any mechanical moving parts, which could fail and prevent the cooling function.
“Nuclear power know-how, national energy policy and the world’s leading district heating network provide the world’s best starting point for Steady Energy to start its business specifically in Finland,” says Timo Ahopelto, Founding Partner at Lifeline Ventures.
The project has been part of VTT LaunchPad, an incubator connecting VTT researchers and technology with industry and investors.
“On top of being safer than traditional reactors, SMRs are more affordable. We’re setting up a demonstration plant for district heating purposes ideally in Finland, but our long-term plan is to have several plants operating around the world, producing carbon-neutral heat to homes, offices and for various industrial applications,” said Tommi Nyman, CEO of Steady Energy.
According to the European Environment Agency, heating and cooling account for half of the final EU energy use.
A third of all energy in the European Union (EU) is used for heating and hot water in buildings, 72% of which comes from burning gas and oil.
Originally published by Power Engineering International.
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