Business Technology

Saturday 10 December 2016

Trinity engineer raising €10m for nuclear power technology

John Reynolds

Published 07/02/2016 | 02:30

Rory O'Sullivan says that he and his partners' new nuclear power technology could provide electricity more safely Photo: Getty Images
Rory O'Sullivan says that he and his partners' new nuclear power technology could provide electricity more safely Photo: Getty Images

A Trinity College engineering graduate, who was named in this year's Forbes Europe Top 30 under-30 list, is raising €10m to develop a nuclear power technology that he and his partners claim could produce electricity more safely. It would also do so more cheaply than a new coal-fired power station or the latest nuclear one that Britain plans to build at a cost of up to €32bn, they say.

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Founder of Energy Process Developments Rory O'Sullivan, 29, who has begun talking to a number of prospective Irish investors about the project, has partnered with British Moltex Energy founders environmentalist John Durham and scientist Dr Ian Scott, an entrepreneur and former chief scientist at consumer goods giant Unilever.

Cambridge-educated Dr Scott made a breakthrough in establishing that because of its design and how it works, by containing molten salt nuclear fuel in tubes, rather than hazardously pumping it around pipes, valves and heat exchangers outside a reactor, his stable salt reactor method, which keeps the fuel locked up in closed tubes, is far safer.

It also avoids the requirement for as much highly specialised, expensive and failsafe systems for cooling, containment and safety control, which raise new nuclear costs to levels that leave electricity billpayers and governments on the hook for tens of billions.

"We aim to win a slice of £250m funding the UK government has made available and have also established partners in Asia to develop the technology there. But we need further investment now to ensure we can take the lead internationally. Today's clean power technologies will not reduce global energy poverty at today's costs. Drastic cost reductions are required to implement clean power on a mammoth scale," O'Sullivan said.

Nuclear power is currently illegal here, but he added that the Moltex design could be used here in modular units that each generate about 150MW of power - enough for about 45,000 homes, potentially within the next 10 years.

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