Nuclear tech: Coming to a boat near you?

Danish startup Seaborg just raised $24m to create a safer nuclear power option.


December 29, 2020

What happens when you cross the scientist nerds from the sitcom The Big Bang Theory with the Lonely Island’s “I’m On a Boat” music video?

Seaborg — a Danish startup putting nuclear power plants on boats.

The team of PhDs and engineers just landed ~$24m in funding, jumped their first regulatory hurdles, and could be powering coastal cities by 2025.

Seaborg uses nuclear tech known as molten salt reactors (MSRs)

This type of reactor is able to operate at lower temperatures — and, thus, reduce explosion risk — as compared to many reactors in operation today.

Research on MSRs stalled in the 1970s, partly because a key ingredient (thorium) can’t be turned into bombs. But they have lots of peaceful advantages:

  • It’s cheaper to build, more efficient, and can’t melt down
  • The nuclear waste can potentially be used as fuel
  • It can also supply heat and clean water to homes

Each of Seaborg’s nuclear barges can power ~200k homes…

… run for 20+ years, and be a potential source of energy for ~1B people — mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia — without power.

These nations have to balance supplying power to their populations while also managing climate change risks.

Nuclear offers an alluring option — generating ~1.5% of the CO2 of coal power, and requiring <10% of the raw materials of wind, hydro, and solar farms to build.

With the course Seaborg is charting, those figures should drop even further — all without the risk of a Big Bang.

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