How Did You Get Into Nuclear? - Troels Schönfeldt

Updated: 4 days ago

Troels Schönfeldt

Chief Executive Officer

Seaborg Technologies

I was anti-nuclear until I starting studying physics. During the course, we got very little time on nuclear technology. I became a nuclear and particle physics master without ever really hearing about nuclear power.


Yet I decided to investigate myself and it just so happens that when you start looking at the facts, you see something other than the fear surrounding nuclear that is ingrained within you. Slowly I began to question if nuclear was right or wrong. Today I know that nuclear is a beautiful technology, but the nuclear industry is doing it all wrong.


I worked at Coloplast coining concepts, developing products, producing prototypes and laboratory experimenting before studying at the Technical University of Denmark. I started my nuclear career as a particle physicist at CERN, the Niels Bohr Institute and the European Spallation Source. I am a radical-pragmatist, who has gone all-in on climate-insurgency becoming an impact entrepreneur and CEO by co-founding Seaborg in 2014.


I chose to get into nuclear as I could see that the world needs nuclear technology. The pro-nuclear bodies making a case for nuclear were too technical and the anti-nuclear personalities were smart, they made music and had good looking guys playing guitars which created a movement. The technical people where old and boring and nobody would listen to them. In general, the nuclear industry is not communicating with the public, but the anti-nuclear people have. As a result, nuclear lives in the same small part of the brain as fear. Today people tend to be born and raised in fear of nuclear.


Seaborg recognises that the nuclear industry is doing it wrong; they are communicating it wrong, which plays into the anti-nuclear movement's hands, exploiting people's fear of nuclear. Nobody in nuclear is trying to develop something suitable. President Eisenhower promised the globe that nuclear technology would be "too cheap to meter". But in the western world, we have produced something too expensive. In China, this isn't the case, and Korea and Rosatom are doing it right also.

I learned that that nuclear is a beautiful technology.

My co-founders of Seaborg and I were just a bunch of physicists who would brew some beer whenever we would meet up, and we would call it "Beer Nuclear Power" as we were all nuclear power fans. We eventually became good enough at brewing beer that made us drunk enough to decide to save the world by developing a reactor of our own. We agreed that this was utterly impossible. Nevertheless, we thought it was too important not to try, as the world needed the technology. Also, we thought it would be fun.


Being Physicists, we were good at calculating and figuring out stuff. After six months of doing this, we were able to work out a Molten Salt Reactor. Nobody could calculate how to reprocess the fuel while the reactor is running (dynamic reprocessing). Even though it was an idea that we haven't followed through with, it gave us credibility and an edge. It gave us an advantage as no one else could calculate it. The project had now grown from impossible to insanely hard, but with enough of a chance to give it a real go. I put all of my savings into the endeavour as I believed in nuclear technology that much.


Our Danish start-up Seaborg Technologies develops a fundamentally new type of nuclear reactor – a Molten Salt Reactor – a reactor type not plagued by the issues typically associated with existing nuclear power. These reactors cannot produce weapons-grade fuel. They can convert long-lived atomic waste into energy. They cannot result in nuclear disasters. Seaborg’s mission is to deliver a scalable, cheaper-than-coal, dispatchable power source by 2025 and replace the currently projected new-build coal plans in Southeast Asia with 7500 emission-free nuclear reactors.

Today I am cand—PhD in neutron physics from DTU and ESS. I'm world-leading in MSR neutronics and design. I have built Seaborg Technologies - we are going to change the world and enable a future for your grand-kids.


I’d suggest getting into nuclear for the same reasons. The world needs nuclear technology, and you can play your part. You don't need to be a nuclear physicist. There is a need for many roles covering all skills and experience.

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