Russian military exhibition showcases small mobile and undersea NPPs

13 September 2016

Several innovative nuclear reactors were showcased by Russian state nuclear corporation at the Defence Ministry’s military-technical forum "Army 2016" from 6 to 11 September in Moscow, including transportable and undersea nuclear installations. Rosatom’s Afrikantov Experimental Design Bureau for Mechanical Engineering (OKBM Afrikantov) exhibited designs for mobile power units with nuclear power modules intended to support development of the Russian Arctic.

The company also provided information on the Aisberg subsea power complex, which is designed to supply power for offshore drilling. The Aisberg reactor can operate autonomously without maintenance for one year and has a total service life of 30 years. The Afrikantov bureau also showed a new-generation ABV-6E reactor, designed for small autonomous nuclear power sources, which has an output of 6-100MWe. The module can be used both on land or at sea and has a 10-year refuelling period. OKBM Afrikantov, founded in 1945, designs, develops, tests and maintains a range of reactor plants, including include naval ship reactors, fast neutron plants as well as small and medium floating power stations.

The St Petersburg Rubin Central Design Bureau for Marine Engineering  (CDBME) gave details of its project for an underwater energy complex with a nuclear reactor that can be used both by the military and civil sectors, which, it said, is ready for implementation. CDBME chief designer Eugene Toropov noted: "For an underwater energy complex, we can create an installation using a reactor that meets the requirements of the IAEA. There are currently no technical and scientific problems to constructing such a complex.” CDBME is a leading participant in the Aisberg project, which was launched in January 2015.

"The project envisages the creation of technologies to construct a fully autonomous underwater installation for the development of hydrocarbon deposits in the Arctic seas with heavy ice conditions.” Toporov explained. “In particular, this involves developing an autonomous underwater drilling complex, autonomous underwater energy complex, underwater seismic vessel, submarine transport, and an installation and service complex.” He said the energy complex study was completed, including 3-D modelling, noting that government approval and the receipt of applications from companies interested in implementation of the project in wereexpected "very soon". The project is supported by the Defence Ministry, Rosatom, JSC Gazprom, and JSC United Shipbuilding Corporation.

Last November, Russian media reported that the Russian army planned to make use of transportable NPPs. Yuri Konyushko, General Director of Innovation Projects Engineering Company (IPEC), said a prototype should be available by 2020. Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu had reportedly ordered a pilot project for a mobile low-power nuclear station that could be transported on a vehicle with tracks or a sledge and could withstand harsh Arctic conditions. The units are expected to be produced on a modular principle and mounted on KAMAZ and MAZ trucks as well as sledges, and be suitable for transportation by military cargo jets and heavy cargo helicopters, such as the Mil Mi-26.

“The project has already begun and is going through a research stage now,” Tass news agency quoted Konyushko as saying. He added that, as soon as the ministry had studied the data and given the green light to proceed, the full-scale development of the plant, estimated to take up to two years, would start.  The next step would be the construction of a prototype. “We are to present the pilot unit within four to five years, by 2020.” Konyushko said there is a demand for about 30 such units for far north to cover areas in Arctic archipelagos. The first tracked mobile nuclear power plant was designed in the USSR in 1961. It was followed by a number of other projects, but they were all discontinued following the 1986 Chernobyl accident.



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