The world’s first floating nuclear power plant is on its way to its site. The St. Petersburg-built Akademik Lomonosov is currently sailing through the Baltic Sea. It is to supply from 2019 a city in northern Siberia with electricity.
Akademik Lomonosov is a nuclear power plant, which is built on a floating pontoon. On April 28, 2018, it began its journey from St. Petersburg to Murmansk.
The power plant stands on a pontoon that is 144 meters long and 30 meters wide. The world’s first floating nuclear power plant has two reactors of the type KLT-40S – a further development of the reactors, as they are used in Russian icebreakers. The pressurized water reactors have a thermal capacity of 300 megawatts, from which 70 megawatts of electricity can be generated. In contrast to military reactors, highly enriched uranium is not used. Instead, the fuel rods contain comparatively low-enriched uranium with 20 percent uranium-235 share.
To be used as a floating power plant, the Russian manufacturer OKBM Africantov has integrated a containment to prevent the release of radioactive particles in the event of accidents. According to the manufacturer, this ship would also resist M10 earthquakes (highest on the Richter Scale) and giant tsunamis.
The containment itself is designed to remain tight even in the case of a meltdown
The reactor is located in a water-flooded containment. According to calculations by OKBM, in the case of a meltdown, the water would cool the reactor vessel and prevent melt through. This procedure worked, for example, on the meltdown of the pressurized water reactor at Three Mile Island. With the KLT-40S, however, the containment would not have to be flooded.
The containment combines an active and passive security concept. The reactor has an active pump-driven emergency cooling system. In the event of failure of all cooling pumps, the natural convection of the water in the reactor is sufficient for cooling the fuel rods. The decay heat is then dissipated via the steam generators – actually used to drive the turbines during normal operation. Together the reactors can be cooled during 24 hours. Thereafter, cooling water must be refilled from the outside.
The system has been internationally examined by German and Canadian researchers and found to be suitable. However, the researchers complained that the standardized simulation programs of conventional nuclear power plants could not simulate all aspects.
The power plant floats to Siberia
The power plant was built in St. Petersburg. The work began in 2007. Akademik Lomonosov should have already started working in Siberia in 2010. Now, 8 years later, on April 28, 2018, the nuclear power plant began its journey direction Arctic Sea. The journey first goes through the Baltic Sea around Norway, to Murmansk. There, the fuel rods will be inserted into the two reactors. Then it will continue its journey to Pewek in Siberia.
From 2019 onwards, the floating nuclear power plant will supply with electricity the port, oil drilling platforms and a seawater desalination plant of Pewek, the northernmost city in Russia.
Environmentalists criticize the project: Greenpeace warned of a “Chernobyl on ice”. In addition, according to the environmental protection organization, no environmental impact assessment have been carried out.