Developing groundbreaking nuclear technology

By | Science & Technology
Credit: Rosatom

Russia aims to complete construction of the first floating nuclear power plant, The Academic Lomonosov, by the end of 2019. Shipping corporation LLC Baltiysky Zavod Shipbuilding and Rosenergoatom, the state nuclear power company, are challenged to develop this unique idea promising the project aims to be safer to run than any other nuclear plant.

The power plant located on a ship aims to generate up to 70 MW of electricity, which may be enough to supply a town with a population of around 200,000 people. The floating nuclear plant aims to act as a power ambulance. In the regions, where weather conditions often cause electricity challenges, the ship aims to be called to provide an emergency power supply. In Russia it may save the lives of thousands, as the Arctic area and the Far East coast of the country are currently vulnerable to power instability during the winter season.

Another intention of the Russian government is to provide power for oil and gas exploration units in the Arctic. The Russian Arctic has 60 per cent of the region’s fuel and continues exploration.

The manufacturer company OKBM claims they are planning to produce one more version of a device for export. It aims to provide desalinated water to the coastal areas of Africa, Asia and Europe that currently need drinking water. In this case, the floating reactor may power desalination unit.

The estimated cost of The Academic Lomonosov is $232 million. When it is set afloat in 2019, the floating nuclear plant aims to be crewed by about 70 people. The crew aims to manage the ship and on-board reactors. The vessel is planned to be towed to the remote areas, rather than floating under its own power.

The mobile nuclear plant seems to be much safer than current icebreakers’ reactors, as it may use lightly enriched uranium. This has been agreed by Russians with International Atomic Energy Commission, which are aiming at preventing nuclear accidents especially in such an unpredictable sea area.

The creators of the floating nuclear device claim the reactors on the ship may be “resilient” in a possible situation where immediate use is necessary. The inventors assure the nuclear units aims to stay safe even if the ship is exposed to tsunamis, earthquakes or typhoons. Russia may use a similar method of installation they used on the “Kursk” submarine, which even after it sank in 2000 far from released any nuclear discharge in the sea. The clean-up and maintenance of the ship aims to be held by an existing Russian nuclear technology service which has sufficient equipment and qualified personnel.

Moreover, the creators remind alarmists there are hundreds of ships and submarines with nuclear reactors on board that are currently floating around the world and are assumed to be safe. Russia, USA, CHINA, UK and France own these ships. The project seems to be based on the principle the world’s leading countries have been using since the Cold War and seems to be relatively safe.

How may the Northern areas of the world benefit from the launch of a first ever floating nuclear power plant? 

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