— Nuclear power is dead in Germany – said German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the beginning of September, thus suppressing the discussion about the future role of this method of power generation on the Rhine (Germany disconnected the last reactors from the electricity grid in April of this year – editor’s note). But this does not prevent German physicists from doing so Reviving this technology in other countriesThey are currently working on new types of nuclear reactors.
Scientists from Dual Fluid Energy developed this concept Completely new reactorwhich is not only safe, but will also solve the problem of burdensome waste generated during the operation of classical nuclear power plants.
because Implementing any nuclear ideas in Germany is almost impossible at the momentthe people behind Dual Fluid Energy decided to establish their company in Canada in 2021. There they began the licensing procedure for their baby: a nuclear reactor based on the “dual fluid” principle (from English, dual fluid means “double fluid” or “double fluid” – Editor’s note).
The name comes from the fact that the fuel in such a reactor is not solid (which is currently the norm), but liquid. The “fuel fluid” is also surrounded by another – this time a liquid metal, for example lead, which dissipates heat outwards.
The theoretical basis of the new reactor was developed in Berlin. Moreover, Dual Fluid Energy still has its laboratory there, where it conducts research. In addition to the capital of Germany and Canada, the company will have a third location in the future. she is Kigali is the capital of RwandaOn Tuesday, an agreement was signed with the local nuclear energy regulatory office. Dual Fluid Energy wants to build a pilot reactor there. As Goetz Ruprecht, the company’s CEO, explains, the data collected during its operation will be used to speed up the licensing process.
-The experimental reactor must be ready for operation Within two to three years Ruprecht says. “It will be the size of a washing machine. We will place it in the middle of a hall the size of three tennis courts – adds the head of Dark Fluid Energy. The prototype will use so-called low-enriched uranium fuel with an increased content of 235 uranium (HALEU, highly enriched low-enriched uranium), where the content does not exceed Fissile uranium isotope 20% (in “normal” reactors the U-235 content ranges from about 0.7% to 3-5% of U-235 – editor’s note).
— We expect not to be constrained by the required fuel supply, because we are in close contact with a globally recognized certified supplier, says Rupprecht (there is very little production of this fuel in the world because there has been no demand for it so far – editor’s note). .
When the reactor is built, the uranium – in the liquid state – will be inside 19 vertical tubes: this is the heart of the reactor. – Reducing the melting point of uranium to well below 1000. Degrees Celsius, to which we add a small amount of chromium, explains Ruprecht. The core will be surrounded by a tank about two meters in diameter and filled with liquid lead, which will absorb the heat generated by the decomposition of the uranium.
— Before the experiment begins, the lead must first be inductively heated and liquefied, says the president of Dark Fluid Energy. – This requires a lot of electricity. During operation, the lead will remain in liquid form thanks to waste heat from the reactor, explains Ruprecht, who previously worked as a physicist.
Götz Ruprecht traded his lab coat for a director’s chair to build the reactor of his dreams. He founded Dual Fluid Energy with five fellow scientists in 2021.
With the reactor to be built about an hour from Kigali, scientists from Dual Fluid Energy want to prove that the reactor actually behaves as predicted by theoretical calculations. Because the fuel in the “bi-liquid” reactor is liquid and not solid, It also has the ability to self-regulate.
This means that if the temperature of the liquid in the reactor increases, the liquid expands and the spaces between the atoms become larger. This in turn reduces the flow of neutrons (which are necessary to split atomic nuclei, and is a source of energy here – editor’s note), so the reaction rate decreases and less heat is generated. This mechanism makes the dual-fluid reactor particularly safe – it cannot explode. Scientists are fully convinced of this Therefore, accidents like Chernobyl or Fukushima would be essentially impossible.
“It’s a radioactive waste burner.”
On the other hand, the experiment in Rwanda also aims to study the properties of materials. After two years of operation, the reactor will be dismantled to check whether corrosion has occurred anywhere or whether the reactor core (made of ceramic) needs to be improved. This data is important for the prototype to obtain all the necessary permits that allow it to enter the market.
The previously mentioned Hallyu fuel is only necessary for the experimental reactor, but the “full” version will require only 10 percent enriched uranium. Once loaded with fuel, the prototype will operate until the end of its life without needing to be refilled. “And when it comes into operation, it can be powered by regular reactor fuel or even depleted uranium or nuclear waste,” Ruprecht says. – This is the greatest strength of this structure: it is actually a burner for radioactive waste, – adds the physicist.
*If the Canadian-German company succeeds, it will be a milestone on the way to realizing the vision that nuclear energy enthusiasts have been living for decades. The reactor developed by Dual Fluid Energy belongs to the so-called category. Generator reactors. This means that even non-fissile material can be loaded into it – such as uranium-238, which is more common in nature – and the reactor will use it as fuel (converting uranium-238 into plutonium-239). This is possible because this technique uses “fast” neutrons, unlike conventional reactors, where the neutrons are “slow” (hence the full name of this type of device is fast breeder reactor).
Because uranium 238 makes up about 98 percent. Naturally occurring uranium, the development of a cost-effective breeder reactor would bring us closer to realizing the dream of global nuclear energy. Although work on such reactors began decades ago, the tailwinds of nuclear power meant that many prototypes did not survive.
One of the reasons for this situation is the decline in demand for nuclear reactors (which Onet showed in the report “The Future of Energy”), and on the other hand – this technology is also not without drawbacks. The biggest one is the fact that liquid nuclear fuel can cause severe corrosion of reactor components from the inside (which is why Dual Fluid wanted to take its prototype apart and carefully examine it). Similar problems arise when liquid metal is used as a coolant.
*Developed by: Jakub Kapiszewski
Echo Richards embodies a personality that is a delightful contradiction: a humble musicaholic who never brags about her expansive knowledge of both classic and contemporary tunes. Infuriatingly modest, one would never know from a mere conversation how deeply entrenched she is in the world of music. This passion seamlessly translates into her problem-solving skills, with Echo often drawing inspiration from melodies and rhythms. A voracious reader, she dives deep into literature, using stories to influence her own hardcore writing. Her spirited advocacy for alcohol isn’t about mere indulgence, but about celebrating life’s poignant moments.