The first of two reactors (the starboard side) on Russia’s first floating NPP (FNPP), Akademik Lomonosov, achieved first criticality on 2 November, Russian equipment manufacturer Atomenergomash said in a statement on its website. An official from state nuclear corporation Rosatom told Ria Novosti that a series of reactor tests will now follow and the second reactor on the port side of the nuclear barge will be brought to minimum power in the coming days.
When the tests are completed, the Akademik Lomonosov (144 metres in length, 30 metres wide with a displacement of 21,000 tonnes) will be towed over 4000 kilometres through the Arctic to the far eastern Siberian port of Pevek, a town of 100,000 people in Chukotka, were it is scheduled to begin operating in summer 2019. It will replace the energy supplied by the ageing Bilibino NPP which will be closed for decommissioning by 2021, and the Chaunskaya thermal power plant. Construction work is under way in Pevek to complete the necessary on-shore infrastructure.
Akademik Lomonosov is the lead project of a series of mobile transportable low-power units. Its two KLT-40S reactor installations have a total capacity of more than 70MWe or 159MWt. OKBM Afrikantov is the chief designer, manufacturer and complete equipment supplier of these reactor units including control systems, pumps, fuel handling equipment, auxiliary equipment, etc. The FNPP is intended for power supply to large industrial enterprises, port cities, or oil and gas production. The reactors were extensively tested during their use to power nuclear icebreakers during the Flax operation in the Arctic.
The keel of Academik Lomonosov was laid in April 2007 at Sevmash in Severodvinsk, but in August 2008 state nuclear corporation Rosatom cancelled the contract – citing the heavy military workload at Sevmash - and transferred it to the Baltic Shipyard in St Petersburg. However further delays followed due to bankruptcy and change of ownership. New keel-laying began in May 2009 and the 21,500t hull was launched at the end of June 2010. The two 35MWe KLT-40S reactors were installed in October 2013.
Academik Lomonosov left the Baltic Plant in St Petersburgin April on the first leg of its journey being towed to Murmansk where it was loaded with fuel and took on board its crew. The loading of fuel into the two reactors began in July and was completed in early October. The vessel is expected to be towed to its permanent base at Pevek in Russia's Chukotka region in the summer of 2019.
Rosatom is now developing a new optimised floating nuclear plant which, if ordered, can be built in five years, according to Pavel Ipatov Rosenergoatom deputy general director responsible for special projects. "Today, Rosatom is developing a new optimised power unit using a new generation of the Ritm-200 reactor, which has more power, efficiency and better characteristics." He said a number of Russian northern territories and several foreign countries have expressed interest in FNPPs.