back to article Swedish datacenter operator wants to go nuclear

A datacenter in Stockholm could be powered by a small nuclear reactor in future, if a Swedish internet service provider gets its way. Bahnhof, which apparently used to host WikiLeaks in one of its datacenters, is understood to be investigating the possibility of installing a small modular reactor (SMR) at a datacenter being …

  1. Conundrum1885


    Some folks here looked into these.

    Believe that the idea of using a two-fluid MSR is also being floated.

    The mechanism with these is using a liquid fluoride salt in a conventional reactor pin, with any gases evolved being vented under controlled

    conditions. The outer salt which is the primary coolant is less harmful as it has no nuclear fuel within.

    A somewhat more radical variant uses a modified liquid metal reactor with the fuel suspended within the liquid as tiny capsules

    so that criticality only takes place within the highly optimized core that also has control and neutron reflective elements included.

    Hybrid design that relies on very thin layers of moving metal driven by gravity, so if anything goes wrong they simply cut off or divert

    the fuel flow around the core and it shuts off. Fully throttled and far safer due to minimum inventory of potentially dangerous actinides.

    It could feasibly be adapted for space use as parts can be sent up by rocket, with far lower risk than sending up a conventional

    fully stocked core if the empty re-entry proof Ir fuel capsules are reused between launches (hey there SpaceX)

  2. IGotOut Silver badge

    And ...

    ...if your company goes bust, the up keep and decommissioning will fall to????

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: And ...

      ...if your company goes bust, the up keep and decommissioning will fall to????

      Probably whoever leased it to you. I somehow doubt that datacentre staff will be allowed to poke the reator. I worked with enough to know that's probably a bad idea. Plus one of the beauties about SMRs is they're small enough that the cores can be picked up and put on a truck, rail car, or barge. So all you'd need to do is shut it down, wait until it's cooled down enough to move and take it away to reuse, refurb or recycle.

      Or you could just encouarge very large datacentres to be built by the coast. Like by international cable landing stations. One of which already occupies a picturesque chunk of Thorpness, which used to be a nuclear test site in the past. Ish. But potential to move stuff in & out by sea, easy access to cooling water, high capacity fibre connnectons and beaches to laze on whilst waiting for someone to answer your TAC call. Much nicer than sunbathing on the roof of Telehouse, and less likely to upset security guards.

      1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

        Re: And ...

        " I somehow doubt that datacentre staff will be allowed to poke the reactor."

        Nor would we want to : -)

        I used to be located at a datacentre, and we all took on various responsibilities for the infrastructure, one guy used to play with tanks at the weekend, so looked after the diesel generator, I used to inspect the aircon / chiller room,... neither of us were nuclear engineers, and you don't want a tecchie saying 'what does this button do?'

    2. Filippo Silver badge

      Re: And ...

      This is a big problem, but it doesn't mean the project is unfeasible.

      I would set up something like this - companies that want to set up their own nuclear reactors have to pay a quota into a national decommissioning fund AND they have to pay for decommissioning when the reactor's lifetime expires. If a company that operates a nuclear reactor goes bust, then the national decommissioning fund takes over decommissioning, but it is considered by law a privileged creditor in the context of bankruptcy proceedings. Yes, this means that the company will find it slightly more difficult to obtain credit; if this is an unsurmountable problem, they probably are not solid enough to be allowed to operate a nuclear reactor.

      The yearly quota that all nuclear-operating companies have to pay goes to cover the part of money that, inevitably, the fund won't be able to recoup from bankruptcies. If, and only if, the fund still runs out of money, then decommissioning is paid by the state - but, the following fiscal year, the quota gets increased.

      If companies deem that this scheme makes the project economically unfeasible, it means that they were planning to dump decommissioning on the state anyway. In that case, I'm fine with them being unable to operate nuclear reactors.

      1. Wellyboot Silver badge

        Re: And ...

        Very few companies set up their own power generation capacity, it's not worth the effort. Basically they want a known energy price for X years, adding a little more to avoid all the regulations/liabilities is a slam dunk, partnership arrangements with an existing nuclear power company that can own/operate the plant for them is far simpler.

        For comparison, it's been a long time since car any car manufacturer had the urge to build a iron smelter, they just want the end product.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: And ...

          > Very few companies set up their own power generation capacity, it's not worth the effort. Basically they want a known energy price for X years,

          But energy is no longer cheap and the near future indications are it will become even more expensive. So running your own power generator will begin to look attractive, as then you are only incurring running costs and not market driven pricing and taxation.

          Interestingly, I wonder if the new submarine contract will enable RollsRoyce to produce a commercial submarine scale reactor…

          Also it does seem those new high value diesel powered aircraft carriers are beginning to look a poor decision…

  3. Lars Silver badge

    Looking at similar plans in Finland and Estonia I have a feeling RR is missing the ship as they talk about American provider(s) and not that far into the future either.

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge

      You could be correct, RR have been selected to build an SMR (470MW) in Poland for producing Hydrogen (first production H plant?), with up to three more to begin replacing coal powered generators. Yes, Zero is also up to three but I'd give the likelihood for all being built as pretty good.

      They also plan to build 79 (yes seventy nine) Hitach 300MW SMRs across the country with the locations being announced soon* as well as 9GW of full size plant capacity (6 reactors?)

      * That feels like a block of towns of a given size.

  4. Mayday

    Wouldn’t be the first time.

    Kodak had their own nuclear reactor and there’s been a few nuclear powered civilian/merchant ships. Not the worst idea out there.

  5. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge

    Screw datacenters ...

    If we're building pocket nuclear reactors, where's my BattleMech? (And yes, I know those are supposed to be fusion powered.)

    1. Michael Duke

      Re: Screw datacenters ...

      Well if we want that sort of tech where is my powered armour and FGMP-14 from Travaller?

    2. Terje

      Re: Screw datacenters ...

      GM are slow, they should have produced the first commercial fusion engine by now!

  6. codejunky Silver badge


    As countries move more green and the fear of the impossible targets approach I am not surprised private business that can afford the costs are looking for stable power supplies.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Karlung told local TV news SVT Nyheter that it might be considered "provocative a publicity stunt" to want to build a nuclear power station in Stockholm

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