• Sweden edition
Swede held for building nuclear reactor in his kitchen

Swede held for building nuclear reactor in his kitchen

Published: 02 Aug 2011 12:36 GMT+02:00
Updated: 04 Aug 2011 15:30 GMT+02:00

Richard Handl began his experiment some six months ago and has reportedly been open about his plans to construct a nuclear reactor in his apartment in the small Swedish coastal town, maintaining a blog of his nuclear adventure.

Handl, who explained that his interest in nuclear physics was awakened as a teenager, ordered some radioactive material from overseas and acquired more by taking apart a domestic fire alarm.

Despite the Handl's frank and full disclosure of his experiment, his activities only came to the attention of the authorities a couple of weeks ago when he contacted the Swedish Radiation Authority (Strålsäkerhetsmyndigheten) to inquire if it was legal to construct a nuclear reactor at home.

Handl was told that somebody would be sent to measure the levels of radiation in his flat.

"When they came they had the police with them. I have had a Geiger counter and have not detected a problem with radiation," he the local Helsingborgs Dagblad (HD) newspaper.

Handl was arrested by the police and taken in for questioning. He admitted to his plans and was later released.

He told the newspaper that had he succeeded in building a nuclear reactor, generating any power would probably have proved beyond him.

"To get it to generate electricity you would need a turbine and a generator and that is very difficult to build yourself," he told HD.

Handl is reported to have spent around 6,000 kronor ($950) on his project and after all his equipment was seized in the raid, he has confirmed that in the future he intends to focus on the "theoretical" aspects of nuclear physics.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

13:30 August 2, 2011 by JulieLou40
What a tool. I'm assuming he has mental health issues, tho the article didn't mention that.
13:35 August 2, 2011 by wolverine2k
That man is a genius. I suggest Swedish Government to employ him!
13:48 August 2, 2011 by RobinHood
At this very moment I am dissasembling the nuclear reactor I built under the kitchen sink. I used it to power the heating system for the hedgehog cages. The poor abandoned hedgehogs are going to be cold this winter.
13:51 August 2, 2011 by J. L. Belmar
He was arrested for asking if he could do an experiment at home? Well, well. I wonder where would he have been executed if he had managed to build a little, tiny nuclear reactor at home.

The man deserves someone to help him. He might have some grey matter into his head that can be used by the proper Swedish authorities, not by the police, a force that sends around 20 vehicles to confiscate a little tiny hedgehog in Gävle and the women who took care of it, faces a jail penalty.

And please The Local. The title of the story ""Swede arrested for building nuclear reactor in his kitchen" is completly idiotic and misguiding. The man only sought for advice to find out if he could build a nuclear reactor at home, or not.

The kind of journalism you are displaying more often than before is becoming really disgusting.
14:13 August 2, 2011 by muscle
OR MAYBE... if the experiment had gone wrong, the nuclear waste spreads in the kitchen, it may give birth to X MEN :D

OR power puff girls :D
14:23 August 2, 2011 by andyron2
This guy deserves a permanent job in Vattenfall.crazy to get this guy arrested.Yes Robin....Hedgehogs must be cursing the police again.another chicken feather in thier already well decorated cap.I guess he will deported or smthing for being too clever.
14:28 August 2, 2011 by Elvine
14:32 August 2, 2011 by J. L. Belmar

Just remember that in crackin sweden, everybody 'as ter be exactly loike the noggen yedded neighbour yaouw yav. if yoo miskin clever than him, 20 police vehicles wull storm yaw property an' yaouw wull be arrested because anover neighbour, on the other side of the street, looked through yaw windoo an' saw yaouw tryen ter decipher einstein's relativity theory.
14:46 August 2, 2011 by millionmileman
Chicken Kiev!
14:59 August 2, 2011 by J. L. Belmar
Nope. kentucky fried chik'inn which is not t' sem as swedish meytballs or t' infamous "pyttipanna" or t' "janson frästelse" gran' lut!
15:18 August 2, 2011 by Nemesis
He wanted to build a nuclear reactor in his apartment. This is brilliant. I love it.

Seriously it sounds like he was not trying to do anything illegal. Asking the authorities for advice is a good indication he was not up to anything illegal.

I hope I meet this guy someday in the pub. For once a Swede would be interesting to have a conversation with and might actually think outside the box:)
15:43 August 2, 2011 by jacquelinee
I am just amazed at a swede taking the initive on his own to build anything except a smörgas for Fika.
15:55 August 2, 2011 by occassional
What is the half-life of a kitchen sink ?
15:57 August 2, 2011 by Svensksmith
Free x-rays at Jurgens house. This week only.
15:59 August 2, 2011 by andyron2
@ J.L.Belmar lol...i undertood it.lol.

these kind of news never sieze to amaze me.Love it.

The guy is comiting a crime,by taking the initiative and thinking out of the box.
16:13 August 2, 2011 by CMAenergy
Although we disagree with nuclear power.

We disagree with Government and Authority from saying you can't THINK!

Who do they think they are God?

Even though this man should never put his fellow man at or to any risk. The Authorities did right. But for Authorities to even promote any such thing as Nuclear power should be STOPPED !

That why we all need CMA energy, to prevent such stupidity as that as happened in Japan.

A simple reflection of the Deficient mentality of Authority!
16:52 August 2, 2011 by J. L. Belmar
@jacquelinee # 12

Dear nincompoopy: you, as usual are "kaput". Swedes know far more many things than just making "smörgås för fika". Just for your education, here are some:


Johan August Arfwedson, (1792-1841), chemist

Svante Arrhenius, (1859-1927), chemist and physicist

Jöns Jakob Berzelius, (1779-1848), chemist

Lars Ernster, (1920-1998), biochemistry, member of the Board of the Nobel Foundation

Alfred Nobel, (1833-1896), chemist and founder of the Nobel Prizes

Carl Wilhelm Scheele, (1742-1786), chemist

Nils kuko Gabriel Sefström, (1787-1845), chemist

Theodor Svedberg, (1884-1971), chemist


Nils Alwall, (1904-86), inventor and engineer

Arne Asplund (1903-1993), inventor and engineer

Nils Bohlin, (1920-2002), inventor and engineer

Gustaf Dalén, (1869-1937), inventor and engineer

Rune Elmqvist, (1906-1996), inventor and engineer

John Ericsson, (1803-1889), inventor and engineer

Lars Magnus Ericsson, (1846-1926), inventor and engineer

Bengt Gadefelt, (1924-2001), inventor and engineer

Carl Edvard Johansson, (1864-1943), inventor and engineer

Johan Petter Johansson, (1864-1943), inventor and engineer

Håkan Lans, (1942-), inventor and engineer

Gustaf de Laval (1845-1913), inventor and engineer

Frans Wilhelm Lindqvist, (1862-1931), inventor and engineer

Carl Rickard Nyberg, (1858-1939), inventor and engineer

Arvid Palmgren, (1890-1971), engineer (bearing life calculation)

Gustaf Erik Pasch, (1788-1862), inventor and engineer

Baltzar von Platen, (1898-1984), inventor and engineer

Erik Wallenberg, (1915-1999), inventor and engineer

Jonas Wenström, (1855-93), inventor and engineer

Sven Wingquist, (1876-1953), inventor and engineer

[Physics and astronomyHannes Alfvén, (1908-1995), physicist

Oskar Backlund (1846-1916), astronomer

Anders Celsius, (1701-1744), astronomer

Bengt Edlén, (1906-1993), physicist

V. Walfrid Ekman, (1874-1954), physical oceanographer

Oskar Klein, (1894-1977), physicist

Sofia Kovalevskaya, (1850-1891), physicist, mathematician

Knut Lundmark, (1889-1958), astronomer

Lise Meitner, (1878-1968), nuclear physicist

Christopher Polhem, (1661-1751), physicist

Carl-Gustaf Rossby, (1898-1957), meteorologist

Janne Rydberg, (1854-1919), physicist

Manne Siegbahn, (1886-1978), physicist

Anders Jonas Ångström, (1857-1910), physicist

Per-Olov Löwdin, (1916-2000), physicist

[edit] Medicine and botanyArvid Carlsson, (1923- ), neuroscientist

and many, many more.

So, please do not write anything more. Please
17:22 August 2, 2011 by swe-usa
I don't understand all this noise everyone is making about letting the man think outside the box and be creative. Fact of the matter is that nuclear experimentation is dangerous, and maybe he is smart, but sometimes a genius lacks any common sense at all. if he is so smart maybe he should have gotten a job at a nuclear firm where he can experiment with this stuff in a controlled and safe environment. So long as someone, in any country, is using this in köket, I hope that any government comes to seize the belongings.
18:02 August 2, 2011 by J. L. Belmar

Nuclear experimentation is dangerous and so is driving a car in Paris. If geniuses had common sense, many times they would have stopped their experiments. They just keep on doing what they believe it might develop into something. The list would take more than the 3,000 words allowed at The Local for any poster.

The kitchen, the basement, the roof, the barn are good for experimenting.

You should better thank to all those whose lack of common sense, produced some or many of the items you and I are using or enjoying in Science, Chemistry, Engineering, Mathematics, etc.

Your last comment is really a Nobel Prize winner.
18:05 August 2, 2011 by Gamla Hälsingebock
Just imagine!

A Swedish mini-reactor, a device that could/would solve the worlds demand for a compact power source that would end all those wires and pipes you see all around.

Yes a return to a clean and natural environment without smoke belching chimneys, oil spills, gasoline explosions, utility bills and mass power outages.

Obviously he is a very dangerous man and must be watched closely...even solitary confinement.

The fiend!

18:08 August 2, 2011 by jacquelinee
@ J. L. Belmar

I notice they are all dead except for -botany Arvid Carlsson who was born in 1923. Have anyone recent?
18:17 August 2, 2011 by andyron2
@ swe-usa

Infact the comments were made,with pun intended on police and the dumb laws.

This guy is no terrorist or else he wouldnt be doing everything in the open.He had been open,disclosed his experiment details,contacted the authorities,enquired if it was legal and then got arrested?

the title is completely misguiding, he just asked for confirmation.
18:26 August 2, 2011 by J. L. Belmar
That is not the point, Jacquelinee. You are the one who wrote

"I am just amazed at a swede taking the initive on his own to build anything except a smörgas for Fika."

I did not find a single word that you meant Swedes alive. But for your knowledge, I did not complete the list because The Local warned me that I was already over the 3,000 words quota allowed to us.

Now, what is your problem? Go back to the University you graduated from.

I find your comment completely racist against the Swedes.
18:34 August 2, 2011 by andyron2
@ Jaquelinee

Can you please list any of your personal experiences(bad) in sweden?

You seem to be pissed with the country big time.

Country is not whacked...it is doing pretty good and one of the best places on earth.
19:08 August 2, 2011 by Smallnose
In the field of Chemistry not much going on by the Swedes the last decades, we already invented all. ;-)

Sweden shifted more to the bio-science. Some living examples of breakthrough Swedish science: Håkan Westerberg (biology/herrings and sounds)and Magnus Enquis (biology/chicken preference studies), without those studies the world would be worse off.
20:39 August 2, 2011 by Keith #5083

After extensive research through the secretive halls of nucleur power, I am able to confirm to you that the half life of a kitchen sink is:

1. In USA, two divorces

2.In Scandinavia, 3 samboers,1 divorce

3. In the EU generally, 1 money scandal, 2 sex scandals and I divorce

4. In the UK, 4 kids

5. In the Middle East, 7 wives

There were other statistics available, these are just an extract of those considered more pertinent.
20:45 August 2, 2011 by J. L. Belmar

with Jacquelinee it is the same old story. Nothing has change. Once in a while she comes with a good comment, but that is the exception of the rule. I agree with you. Sweden is a beautiful country but more and more is appearing to like mine. We, Mexicans, once upon a time had a beautiful country. God created it with lots of water, oil, gold, silver, sugar canes, etc. But to compensate everything, God put us, the Mexicans, inside. You got the point. You are not another one linee around.
21:08 August 2, 2011 by andyron2
Yes J.L.Belmar.I got the point.Yeah Mexico has some exotic places.My impression on sweden has not changed in the last 7 years and hope it stays the same.If only there were stricter n sensible laws.
21:16 August 2, 2011 by ATinNM
A home sized nuclear reactor producing 200kW was invented by Toshiba in 2007 by, you know, people who know what they are doing?

The fact this idiot was unaware of that fact indicates zero expertise in nuclear engineering and the dangers of a nuclear incident having the potential to contaminate his kitchen, his apartment, his apartment building, and several blocks around for 50,000 years
21:21 August 2, 2011 by muscle
I guess the police arrested him because, even if his intentions were clean, it would have opened a Pandora's Box. Other people, who might have some terrorist intentions might build something really harmful!

If this guy wants to work on the project, he should do so under the government protection and away from civilians. Even gas stations have some distance from residential area. This @ss wanted to play with nuclear stuff in his kitchen? He is crazy fine be that.. but let others be at a safe distance from it!
21:34 August 2, 2011 by conboy
They are obviously not making the Baltazar Von Patens they way they used to....
21:41 August 2, 2011 by J. L. Belmar
@andyron2. I have been already 25 years in this beautiful country, surrounded by water, with more than 100 thousand lakes, green everywere, clean air and everything you can imagine, but, unfortunately, God put the Mexicans as inhabitants and as rulers.
22:09 August 2, 2011 by jacquelinee
I am frustrated by Sweden and it's lack of accountability. If you want to see why...go to the thread on "Another Swedish Breast removed in Vain"

Also, in my experience (and I can only speak from my own) no one admits error. I have my own company and keep very organized carefully documented books.I keep copies of everything as I have been "stung" in the past. Skatteverket has accused me more than once of being late with my forms. They are all documented and dated. The last time I was accused, it was for my taxes AND my year end tax report being late. Both had been sent early. I spoke with a man at Sketteverket (took his name of course) Resent the dated copies of my original forms as well as their own correspondences, the name of their employee I spoke with and a letter stating I felt, sine I had not been remiss on my end, I felt no fines should be given. I awaited a reply.

Three weeks I got yet another letter stating they had not received my taxes and the fines were accumulating. So I went through the whole thing for the 3rd time and even sent documentation from the 2nd set of forms sent and hand delived it and had my copies stamped and witnessed by Skatteverket . I weel later I got a letter saying that even though I had made a mistake with my forms they would forfeit the fines but to be more careful in the future. THAT is the Swedish way in all things and THAT also is why I have a bad attitude
22:24 August 2, 2011 by J. L. Belmar

Take it easy. Everything in Sweden is Kafkanian. If Kafka had been a Swedish writer, he would have written something as interesting as "Swedish wives in New York" with Anna Anka, the ex-wife of my acquaintance Paul. So, you better start singing "I did it my way" and relax. You will never go through "stängda huvuden".
22:25 August 2, 2011 by johnny1939
A lot of wonderful things happen in the Swedish kitchen!
22:55 August 2, 2011 by J. L. Belmar

Hope you never fall in the hands of the famous Karolinska Hospital. To make a long story short, I just spend eight months being its permanent guest for all the stupidities they commited with me.

It all started on August 25, 2010. They made a 73 centimeters long by-pass in my left leg. Some weeks later, a short 20 centimeters by-pass in my right leg. I was having bad circulation in both of them.

Later, they discovered that they went to long in my left leg so another surgery to cut 8 centimeters. At the same time, they discover that they went 5 centimeters to short in my right leg. Another surgery to add the missing 5 centimeters. The left leg got a terrible estreptococus infection that no antibiotic could fix. A third surgery to make a by-pass over the one infected and to remove the infected by-pass. The story ended on February 15 of this year. I got the worst diarrhea you can imagine, lost 11 kilos and got a linfatic liquid bubble in my left leg. This stupid balloon was operated. First, on Sunday before this last Sunday. Then, on Monday, becaus the surgeon goofed on Monday and then on Wednesday, because the two previous surgeons were a pair of nincompoops. Again, I can hardly walk, but I can still see the Sun everyday and that is already a gain.

They wanted to murder me at the Karolinska but they goofed, thanks God.
23:21 August 2, 2011 by andyron2
Mr.Smart ass has been released immediately and i bet he has more knowledge n know the security issues than most people here.

He is not dumb to put his and others life at risk for his kitchen experiment.If that was the case,he wouldnt have been released.as simple as that.

Atleast he has got better brain and not just muscle.
23:31 August 2, 2011 by andyron
@ J.L.Belmar

Vow!!! 25 years is a long long time.Let me congratulate you on that.

You are leading the way.


Sorry that you have been facing issues with diff organisations.Dont take too hard on yourself.I think you need to take it little easy on thelocal news regarding the breast removal,ambulance n stuff.Its mostly negative that shows up.

since we cant change the swedish way of work,can only adjust ,take it easy and stay positive.Im sure you have good experiences in sweden as well.Good luck and cheer up.
23:56 August 2, 2011 by jacquelinee
@ andyron

Thanks :-) I have just had a comedy of errors here ( that are not very comedic) Sorry if I am coming across as a nutcase. To quote Swedish govenment officials..." It is frustrating" I don't want to adjust to people dying from ambulances not being sent, or mediical malpractice or nurses being allowed back to work to abuse old people. I don't ever want to adjust to that. My own stuff I have had to deal with makes me nuts, but I can deal with that. But I just can NOT stand idly by for the human tradgedy of the other things, even though it makes me look like a psycho. People NEED to open their mouths or nothing will change..
01:16 August 3, 2011 by Grokh
So he cant do it because its very dangerous so why then several countries including sweden have huge nuclear reactors ?

the risk is the same in fact worse the bigger the reactors.

also governments are retarded if they think nuclear energy is clean, it takes 40 years to be powered down, after 40 years it takes theoretically 10.000 years for the fuel rods to stop being too radioactive.

And furthermore the first generation of spent fuel rods are only begining to pop up, so far there isnt much toxic waste because they are still on the 40 year power down (which has huge dangers of meltdowns). But what will they do with the toxic waste after that !??!

NOTHING, because there are no plans and no one thought ahead and all the people involved are just gambling on the future to come up with a way to recycle or make them not as dangerous.

so is nuclear energy cleaner? not on the long run when we dont have where to put toxic waste, and not on the short run if an accident occurs.
01:59 August 3, 2011 by muscle

Well I guess this is based upon your assumption and interpretation of the news. The guy could be the case of "Empty vessels make much noise".

And the police releasing him, well anyone would release the guy if they find him as a comedian, making people laugh! Or if he could be speaking in a language that others could not understand.

The only important thing is, does not matter if one is intelligent or not. To err is human. Just don't create more dangers for your neighbors. If one is intelligent, I am sure he will find ways to do the work in an secure location.
02:59 August 3, 2011 by xexon
Look on youtube. There's a video that explains the entire process.

Not that hard at all.

03:32 August 3, 2011 by DavidtheNorseman
The two things that sprang to mind are that the Swedish educational system must be working after all and secondly that perhaps in Sweden it is legally safer to build a reactor in your kitchen than to harbor a wounded hedgehog....

PS - he won't be endangering the surrounding countryside with the amount of material in a fire alarm LOL
08:05 August 3, 2011 by Lemon1987
Strålsäkerhetsmyndigheten - My favourite swedish word ,seriously. For non-swede speaker its utter disaster :)
08:21 August 3, 2011 by J. L. Belmar

You really outmarted me with you know what. Believe me. It was a very, very long time since I remember that someone outmarted me. You just won a Marabou chocolate as a prize.


Thanks for your kind words to jacquelinee. Believe be. She is a lady with grey matter inside her cerebrum. Believe me. She is quite a very, very clever, wise, shrewd; sharp and witty lady.
08:35 August 3, 2011 by Geek Girl
Apparently no one has read "The Radioactive Boy Scout." This is not the first time someone has tried this, right down to the idea of using smoke detectors as a source for radioactive material. The person in that case was exposed to quite a bit of radiation from several sources, and his reactor and the potting shed he built it in were cleaned up by the EPA and buried in a nuclear waste site in Utah. He joined the Navy, hoping to become a nuclear technician, but he was judged to have exceeded his lifetime exposure limits and was made an undesignated seaman. After leaving the Navy he was arrested for stealing smoke detectors and was referred for mental health evaluation.
08:56 August 3, 2011 by bolababu
and all those who get away with this? ..i once helped a friend who bought a house close to a lake for 40,000sek, while helping him with renovations and emptying the cellar, i kept wondering the whole time why he had got such a fine house for next to nothing. i found pictures and passports belonging to a reknowned nuclear scientist who had worked for years with the swedish and american governments. after one week in that house, my skin began to react to something i couldn't understand. not long after, in the cellar, we found that this guy had an entire science laboratory complete with all kinds of radio-active stuff.

i wanted to call the authorities but my swedish friend wouldn't let me, it was then i understood why the sellers and the broker never showed the house, they just sold it to him on blocket and took the money by transfer before mailing him the keys.
09:27 August 3, 2011 by andyron2
@ muscle

well...based on your assumptions he is either going to ruin the neighborhood by killing thousands by the amount of material he got from the fire alarm(a remote place in the western sweden) n on the internet...you got to be kidding...seriosuly,by the amount he can purchase online,you think he will be endangering the whole country side.what a gift for the terrorists then?

or else you think he is a comedian cos he is let off by the police for publicizing himself for his dumb experiment.

You think he is dumb or jerk and i think he is knowledgable and smart from what i read.He is maintaining a blog regarding his exp,he has a geiger counter to measure incase of any problem with radiation,suceeded in his experiment and conceded that it is difficult to build a generator and turbine by himself.asked for clarification,arrested,released and became talk of the town.

@ Jacquelinee

I can understand that the authorities have been frustrating you.you need to become a politician may be,in order to make change people.I have no idea,how you can make people open thier mouths,stand up and demand. Thats so unlike swedes right? you know it better.But i guess,these incidents will not repeat so much in the future as there are all over the papers these days.You can take some advice from JL Belmar,who rates you very highly.
11:43 August 3, 2011 by jacquelinee
@ J.L. and Andy

Thanks guys. Woke up this morning with a positive attitude. Nice change :-)
12:41 August 3, 2011 by andyron2
your welcome.Good going:-)
13:32 August 3, 2011 by RobinHood
According to renowned Australian, historian Professor Yahoo Serious, a teenage Albert Einstein exploded his father's potting shed while splitting a beer atom to make beer bubbly. Fortunately young Einstein survived, though he was a bit singed, and later discovered emk.

Perhaps this young man will go on to equally great things - after the police have finished with him.
21:50 August 3, 2011 by J. L. Belmar
O.K. Ladies and gentlemen: Here is today´s story on the subject.

A Swedish man who was arrested after trying to split atoms in his kitchen said Wednesday he was only doing it as a hobby.

Richard Handl told The Associated Press that he had the radioactive elements radium, americium and uranium in his apartment in southern Sweden when police showed up and arrested him on charges of unauthorized possession of nuclear material.

Mr. Handl, 31, said he had tried for months to set up a nuclear reactor at home and kept a blog about his experiments, describing how he created a small meltdown on his stove.

Only later did he realize it might not be legal and sent a question to Sweden's Radiation Authority, which answered by sending the police.

"I have always been interested in physics and chemistry," Mr. Handl said, adding he just wanted to "see if it's possible to split atoms at home."

The police raid took place in late July, but police have refused to comment. If convicted, Mr. Handl could face fines or up to two years in prison.

Although he says police didn't detect dangerous levels of radiation in his apartment, he now acknowledges the project wasn't such a good idea.

"From now on, I will stick to the theory," he said.

10:45 August 5, 2011 by the fonz
It's lucky I came across this story. I was planning to build a nuclear submarine this fall, but I won't bother now as I don't want to get into trouble!
16:59 August 5, 2011 by IWP
Could have been one way of avoiding the extraordinary greed of Sweden's electricity industry, especially where E.on are involved!
20:10 August 5, 2011 by swe-usa
@ J. L. Belmar

Driving a car in Paris puts yourself in danger and whoever else has decided to drive a car. Experimenting with nuclear activity puts many in danger who are unaware of the happenings. Agreed that historical inventors took on dangerous tasks. I would say that now, the dangers are more obvious, this is radioactivity we are talking about. Further, many famous inventors did not have the research facilities available to conduct these projects. This is the 21st century, if you want to experiment with this stuff, why don't you hold a little responsibility and work for a firm that has facilities suitable for this type of stuff.
11:59 August 12, 2011 by Dr. Mabuse
Our Home-brewed nuclear physicist is so wrong about not being able to generate electricity without a turbine & generator...

What he needed was a few high-powered Peltier-elements and a water-cooled heat-sink. Heat transfer through the Peltier-element generates electricity.
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