At the recently held international military-technical forum "Army-2018", transportable power units of various types with nuclear power plants developed by JSC "Afrikantov OKBM" were demonstrated.
The government of our country has outlined a priority area for the development of the Arctic and circumpolar regions of Russia, and the implementation of these plans will require a huge amount of energy. The use of fossil fuel power plants almost led to an environmental disaster. For several years, it has been necessary to remove and dispose of the "remnants of economic activity" of the development of the North. In the further development of the Arctic, a stake has been made on nuclear power. It is considered to be more effective and to a much lesser extent harmful to the environment. In our country, thanks to the work of nuclear scientists, a full cycle of nuclear fuel circulation has been implemented. Starting from extraction, processing and operation and ending with its enrichment, storage and disposal.
According to the forecast of experts, the most demanded in the Arctic will be power plants with a range of capacities from 5 to 100 MW.
The Nizhny Novgorod enterprise JSC "Afrikantov OKBM", in close cooperation with CDB MT "Rubin", has designed a modular underwater power plant "Iceberg" for modern subsea drilling complexes engaged in geological exploration and production of mineral resources. An installation with a capacity ranging from 8 to 25 MW is suitable for such a complex. In autonomous mode and without maintenance personnel, it can work for more than one year. Estimated service life - 30 years.
At the stand of JSC "Afrikantov OKBM" was also presented a project of a transportable nuclear power plant of a megawatt class with a high-temperature gas-cooled reactor. It was designed for electricity and heat supply in the low-water northern regions of the country, where there is a lack of water.
The most technologically promising power plants with a nuclear reactor RITM-200 will equip a series of three Project 22220 icebreakers "Arctic", "Siberia" and "Ural", which are now being built at a shipyard in the city on the Neva. Each of the icebreakers will be equipped with a two-reactor power plant with a total thermal capacity of 2x175 MW.
Nuclear icebreakers of Project 22220 are urgently needed to guarantee our superiority in the Arctic. These versatile nuclear-powered ships will take advantage of the ability to change the depth of their own cage, which will give them the advantage to carry out work both at sea and in the shallow estuaries of northern rivers. Currently, two types of nuclear-powered icebreakers are used for these tasks - linear (of the "Arktika" type) and shallow-draft icebreakers (of the "Taimyr" type). Universal icebreakers will be able to break a three-meter layer of ice and conduct convoys of ships all year round in the difficult realities of the Arctic. Most likely, they will be used in the areas of the Yamal fields and the Gydan Peninsula or on the shelf of the Kara Sea for transporting transport vessels with raw materials to the Asia-Pacific region.
RITM-200 is a double-circuit nuclear reactor using ordinary (light) water as a moderator and coolant. It was designed for installation on icebreakers and floating power vessels.
The main "highlight" of this reactor is the four steam generators integrated in the core shell.This design solution made it possible to reduce the weight and dimensions of the power plant. Compared with reactor plants of the KLT type installed on modern icebreakers, the RITM-200 reactor plant will be two times lighter, one and a half times more compact and, most importantly, 25 MW more powerful than its predecessors. All this should improve the speed capabilities when passing through ice. The new design reduces the risk of possible leakage from the first working circuit, and the entire design of the unit greatly simplifies its transportation and installation and dismantling works. As we said, this 175 MW thermal reactor will develop motor shaft power up to 30 MW or generate up to 55 MW, operating as a power plant. The reactor is reloaded with fuel once every 7 years, and the service life has increased to 40 years.
RITM-200 is a third generation civil ship-class reactor power plant. So, in comparison with the second generation (the KLT-40 family), it implements the idea of replacing the block layout with an integral one.
A new project was developed on the basis of RITM-200 RITM-200M (2x50 MW) for an optimized floating power unit (OPEB). It will be a highly mobile system that generates electricity and heat for industrial needs or domestic consumption. Also completed the design of the installation for the offshore nuclear icebreaker RITM-200B (for 209 MW) and installations RITM-400 with a thermal capacity of 2x315 MW for the nuclear icebreaker "Leader" (project 10510).
As before, the main task of nuclear icebreakers is to ensure continuous navigation of large-tonnage convoys along the Northern Sea Route and to carry out expeditionary voyages to the Arctic.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu recently said that the Arctic is already becoming an important region where the military-strategic and territorial interests of a whole group of countries intersect.
“Currently, icebreakers not only from Russia, but also from South Korea, Sweden, Germany, the United States and China are located in the northern latitudes,” Sergei Shoigu said.
He noted that these conditions can provoke the emergence of new conflicts. Therefore, the Russian Armed Forces are prioritizing the tasks of protecting national interests in the Arctic to ensure its further development.
While the material for this article was being prepared, I came across interesting archival information that 55 years ago the launch of an atomic reactor, designed specifically for work in Antarctica, took place.
ARBUS - such a funny name was given to the prototype of a nuclear reactor block installation, designed back in 1965 for the needs of Soviet scientific stations in Antarctica. At one time, a large program of various scientific research was planned there. But during the first experimental operation of the reactor at RIAR, an effect was discovered due to which the fuel elements overheated, which led to their destruction and the impossibility of continuing the operation of the reactor without cleaning or completely replacing the fuel elements. And with such problems, sending the power plant to Antarctica was impossible.
But soon, after the delay in the dispatch of the reactor plant, an international agreement was concluded banning the use of atomic energy in Antarctica. Although this idea was not destined to be realized in practice, on the basis of ARBUS, RIAR employees gained invaluable experience in operating reactors of this type, and Soviet science was enriched with fresh ideas for the development of nuclear power.