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Sweden's first nuclear power plant

There are not many who know that Sweden's first nuclear power plant was here at KTH, right next to the Q-house computer labs. Nowadays it is the media technologies that use the old reactor hall. In 1998, however, the old reactor building is still a large and ghostly cavern 25 meters underground. It was then issue sought out professor of reactor physics, Karl-Erik Larsson, who helped to build the reactor. This article is a replay of 1998.Reaktorgropen where uranium rods were immersed in heavy water.

After the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki realized Sweden's Supreme Commander importance of accumulating information about nuclear power and nuclear weapons. Not least the opportunities to protect themselves against nuclear weapons.

Cross section of the underground building looked when the reactor was operating. In addition to the reactor, there were associated laboratories, fans and heat exchangers. The cavern is connected to the ground through two shafts, one with two lifts - which currently does not work - and the other with air ducts for the heat exchanger and a staircase emergency exit. Ventilation Air utblåstes through the chimney to the left of the image. A chimney that was removed about five years ago.

At this time there was no one in Sweden who knew nothing about nuclear power and nuclear weapons. The information available was classified by the Americans and could not get hold of, so the Swedish researchers had to rediscover the atom wheel. At this time hired Karl-Erik Larsson at FOA, with the message "Do something with neutrons".
The beginning of nuclear

When nuclear research was a completely new area of ​​physics, began to develop instruments and build a neutron source. The sources were spent working with gave a lot of radiation, so it was right from the beginning had to be very careful about radiation protection. In radiation protection was a Swedish world authority, Rolf Sievert - one of the few Swedish SI units.

After a few years of basic research began shortly after 1950 to design and build the first test reactor of 300 kW, which later was extended to 1 MW.

When the world's first nuclear reactor was built by Enrico Fermi in 1942 natural uranium and graphite to maintain the nuclear reaction. This design demanded nearly 30 tons of uranium to achieve critical mass.

Such a design was not realistic since in Sweden only received 300 grams of uranium per ton of shale. It had a policy of Sweden would be self-sufficient with regard to all necessary materials. We therefore chose to heavy water in place of the graphite, resulting in that only three tons of uranium needed instead. The problem was to get hold of the heavy water. Five tons was purchased from the Norwegian Rujkan-works.

Although it took less than four years to go from a decision to a running reactor, said those who worked on the project that it went at a snail's pace. Therefore, called reactor Swedish Low Energy Experimental Pile - SLEEP.
A critical day

After much hard work, you could start the reactor 1 for the first time the evening on July 13, 1954. The reactor went critical at 18:59, a historical time in Swedish history of physics. It was then made much of Swedish research in neutronfysiken until 1970, when the reactor was taken out of service. The reactor was then left off until 1982, when it was dismantled and driven away. Today, parts of Sweden's first reactor in Studsvik. The cost of building the reactor was 1954 to about 20 million. The demolition in 1982 cost interestingly enough, also 20 million even if the price tag had a few years of inflation on the neck.
Nuclear Monopoly introduced

Around 1954 did the Americans that the Russians had come so far in the development of nuclear weapon that it was reasonable to disseminate information on the civilian use of nuclear power and its potential. Then in 1955 a conference was held in Geneva on nuclear power, where it was decided that the uranium would be allowed to be exported from the United States, the US authorities should inspect and verify that the uranium used for peaceful purposes.

Now, many people wanted to build its own nuclear reactor. Not just the Swedish state, but also the private sector wanted to build nuclear reactors here and there. Sweden was facing a glorious future. Among other planned aircraft powered by nuclear energy.

This could not be accepted from state authorities and therefore was introduced a state monopoly on nuclear power.
The second nuclear reactor - R2

Sweden's second nuclear reactor - called R2 - was also a research reactor, but with a peak power of 50 MW. It is located in Studsvik, was completed and is still used for materials testing and neutronstråleforskning.
R3 in Stockholm
Nuclear heating plant in Farsta

In the Stockholm suburb of Farsta was built in the early 60's a nuclear powered thermal power plant of 55 MW for fjärrrvärme, completed in 1963. (Five years later, we could see the result in the student union building occupation / reds. Note). During construction complained to local homeowners in the belief that the whole area would become radioactive. When the power plant would then be phased out in 1973 (just in time for the oil crisis) came on the same homeowners and courted Waterfall and said that the reactor could be operated on. It had been such a clean lake and the air had become so clean compared to previously, when burning oil in boilers. Core heat experienced as very environmentally friendly.
Sweden's only oil-fired power plant

Sweden's fourth reactor R4, was supposed to be at Marviken on Bråviken in Östergötland. This reactor was a sad story which was hit hard by bureaucracy and dithering, with repeated changes of what it would be for the reactor and the reactor power. While other design changes delayed the project and ultimately led to the reactor was developing technologically past sprung. Early summer 1970 it was decided to abandon the project. Remained the conventional part which was converted into an oil-fired power plants and reactor part became an international testing station. Sweden got its first and probably the world's only oil-fired power plant!
Our hike
Lab 4 in modern physics is unfortunately canceled due to the nuclear test ban?

There are two paths into the R1, of which only one has illumination. We stuffed it borrowed the key in the door to the later entrance, but it did not work, so it had become the dark stairs down. The only flashlight we had highly prized! Twenty-five meters later we get into a great time that leads onto the large reactor hall. Everywhere it is completely empty, very dark and everything we see - floor, walls and roof - is divided into a grid where all boxes have a unique code. Looks a bit surreal scene indeed.

In the middle of the reactor building protects a railing to the pit where the reactor tank previously existed. The vaulted ceiling is beautifully blue, of course, covered with a grid. However, it is a bit difficult to say more than that the roof is dark in the meager light of our flashlight. Apparently there used lighting in the reactor hall and other areas, but it had stopped working a while ago. Karl-Erik tells how nice it was with the blue vaulted ceiling when he and his colleagues worked to build the reactor.

On the side of the reactor pit was a covered hole, Karl-Erik explained had been used to test the uranium rods. The rods were lifted up from the core, protected by a lead sheath and eventually fell to the hole where they were drowned. On the other side of the pit along the wall lay a series office building three storeys in height. In a small room at the side of the pit lay the control of the reactor. Further inside was the lab's premises and personnel facilities.

By: Dennis Grundberg

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