Nuclear Energy in Russia Sets Sail
A nuclear power plant is churning through the dark cold waters of the Arctic. Bound for Russia’s Far East port city of Pevek, the Akademik Lomonosov is the first of its kind anywhere on planet Earth. Commissioned by Rosatom, the Russian State Nuclear Energy Corporation in 2007 and strapped with twin KLT-40 naval propulsion reactors in 2009, the floating nuclear power plant received its first payload of nuclear fuel in May of last year. Recently announcing it has received the required operating license to begin supplying power to Chaun municipality, Rosatom’s Akademik Lomonosov is now clear to pioneer the future of nuclear power generation through 2029, with a potential for a 40-year life extension.
With all that entails a nuclear power plant dancing on the surface of the ocean, a nuclear cathedral would be a more apt description. The Akademik Lomonosov extends to a length of 472 feet and carries a hefty width of 98 feet, in addition to a displacement of 21,500 metric tons. Its twin reactors combine to produce up to 70MW of electricity or 300MW of heat, which the Russian agency claims will be dispersed throughout the sparsely-populated and geographically isolated Chukotka region—and that’s the real trailblazing appeal of the Akademik Lomonosov: a nuclear power plant mobile enough to offer energy to a remote and desolate population who otherwise would struggle to obtain a standard of living electricity, heat, etc. It is an innovation of Nuclear Energy in Russia.
The question is, and given the country, a highly warranted question at that, how safe is a nuclear power plant that rests upon the ocean? Naturally, an enormous eruption of criticism has rained down from nearly every environmental group alive—they oppose traditional plants built on bedrock and secured on land, one can imagine their minds scrambling at the notion of nuclear power on the high seas—with prominent organizations such as Greenpeace and the Bellona Foundation throwing around phrases like “Chernobyl on ice” and “a nuclear Titanic”. Even the design calls back old Chernobyl questions due to Russia’s continued refusal to house their nuclear reactors within a containment dome. The Akademik Lomonosov has no such dome and instead features the box-like structure the world horrifically remembers looming over the disaster in Chernobyl.
Questions, safety concerns, right or wrong aside, this ship has sailed. A nuclear reactor now roams the ocean—and other countries are noticing. China already has plans to construct a vessel of their own as soon as 2020. Will America follow suit? Has a new future been opened up in the global nuclear industry? The answer is blowing in the water.
Process and control will be a part of whatever the future unfolds. That’s why OTEK became a Class 1E manufacturer of commercial and safety-related DPM’s such as our New Technology Series and our Cyber Security Exempt SSAM (designed without any digital components such as microprocessors) to help usher in the future of nuclear energy. OTEK’s commitment to the nuclear industry affirms our long-standing belief in staying in technological step with the future.
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