As part of Phase 1 of UK BEIS AMR Feasibility & Development project, LeadCold has submitted the design of its SEALER-UK plant to BEIS for review. SEALER-UK is a 55 MWe lead-cooled reactor using uranium nitride fuel. The purpose of the design is to produce base-load power on the UK grid. In a reference configuration of four units, a SEALER-UK power plant may produce 220 MW of electricity at an estimated cost of £47-55/MWh. A single fuel load will last 22.5 full power years, corresponding to 25 calendar years of operation. Five years after shut-down, the primary system is transported as a single package to Sellafield for safe surface storage until the UK high level waste repository becomes operational.
The integrity of steel surfaces exposed to liquid lead is ensured by use of alumina forming steels developed by LeadCold Engineers, containing 3-6 wt% aluminium. These steels are applied either as weld overlay, as a surface alloy, or as bulk material, depending on the radiation damage dose tolerance and mechanical strength required for a particular component.
Passive safety of the reactor is ensured by removal of decay heat from the core by natural convection of the lead coolant. Transport of the decay heat from the primary system is accomplished by dip-coolers, or ultimately by radiation from the primary vessel to a reservoir of water surrounding the guard vessel. In the event of a core disruptive accident, volatile fission products are retained in the lead coolant and no evacuation of persons residing at the site boundary will be required.
LeadCold intends to qualify the SEALER-UK concept through endurance tests of pumps, steam generators and alumina forming alloys in flowing lead under conditions representative for operation in commercial units. Moreover, innovative manufacturing methods for uranium nitride fuel are to be developed.
The SEALER-UK reactor assembly plant would be capable of producing ten reactors per year, supported by a uranium nitride fuel manufacturing plant providing an annual supply of 200 tons of 12% enriched UN fuel. Such facilities may become operational in 2028, allowing for commercial deployment of SEALER-UK plants in 2030. LeadCold estimates that by reducing the time for on-site construction and commissioning to 24 months, an owner’s cost per reactor unit of £160M can be achieved.
© LeadCold Reactors, 2019