New national competence centre

​A national academic center for nuclear technology has been established at Chalmers in the department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering - SAINT (Swedish Academic Initiative on Nuclear Technology Research). SAINT is the result of an increased interest in a national platform within nuclear technology and has become a natural transition from the competence center SNEC (Sustainable Nuclear Energy Centre) that Chalmers had before.

– It is very exciting that we, for the first time in Sweden, have an academic association within nuclear technology, says Christian Ekberg, Professor of Nuclear Chemistry and Industrial Materials and Director at SAINT.

As a national center for nuclear technology, SAINT will share knowledge and be an independent academic voice in the Swedish nuclear field. Most of the nuclear science at Chalmers is on Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, hence the location of the center.


Cooperation over competition
Today, the new competence center is a collaboration between Chalmers and Uppsala University. The center has already attracted some attention from other universities, and they hope further collaborations will be made in the future.

– Cooperation is the strongest way forward. In a small country like Sweden, where we are very few and quite specialized in nuclear technology, it is important that cooperation goes before competition. In that way, we can also gain a greater respect and understanding of each party’s needs. Instead of competing over the resources available within the nuclear field, we can apply for research funding from the EU together, says Christian Ekberg.

Christian Ekberg is the director at SAINT during the first year, then the role as director shifts to Uppsala University. The plan is that the role will move between different universities every year, to create equality and security in decision making. However, the residence of the centre, continues to be at Chalmers and Klara Insulander Björk, PhD in Physics with specialization in nuclear technology, coordinates the national center.


Nuclear research in times of decommission
Nuclear power is an extremely controversial topic in Sweden. The parliament has decided that nuclear power will be phased out, but exactly when a total decommission of nuclear power will be completed is yet unknown. However, the Swedish government has decided that all energy production will come from renewable sources by 2040.


Christian Ekberg says that SAINT will represent the nuclear academic research in Sweden and he points out the importance of dialogue with politicians, government and industry. SAINT has an important role and that is to share their research on nuclear chemistry.

– The area of nuclear technology is so much more than just nuclear power. It also includes, for example, radon measurements and radiation safety. SAINT will continue to listen and discuss with decommissioning units, see what their needs are and how they can be met in the best way, Christian Ekberg explains. Expertise is and will be needed regardless of what the nuclear industry look like, and it is important that we cherish that knowledge now.

Read more about the Sustainable Nuclear Energy Center (SNEC)


More information about SAINT (Swedish Academic Initiative on Nuclear Technology Research) will be posted on the web in the near future.

 

Text: Mariam Nordström

Image: Mats Tiborn


Published: Mon 04 Dec 2017.