Akademik Lomonosov: Russia launches world’s first floating nuclear reactor

Russia launched world’s first floating nuclear reactor called Akademik Lomonosov, sending it on epic journey across the Arctic. It was launched and loaded with nuclear fuel from Arctic port of Murmansk for its 5,000 kilometre voyage to Pevek in northeastern Siberia. On arriving in Pevek, it will replace local nuclear plant and closed coal plant. It will go in full operations by end 2019 and it will mainly serve region’s oil platforms in Arctic. One of its targets is also to power Chaun-Bilibin mining complex in Chukotka region, which also includes gold mine.

About Akademik Lomonosov

It was constructed by Russian state nuclear power firm Rosatom. It has been named after Russian Academician and scientist Mikhail Lomonosov. It follow examples of nuclear submarines, aircraft carriers and icebreakers which have long used nuclear power, and are intended for isolated areas with little infrastructure.

Features: It is 144 metres long and 30 metres wide. It has displacement capacity of 21,500 tonnes and can carry crew of total 69 people. It has latest security systems and Russia claims that it is one of safest nuclear installations in the world.

Power generation: It is fitted with 2 modified KLT-40 naval propulsion nuclear reactors (each of 35 MW capacity) together providing up to 70 MW of electricity and 300 MW of heat. It will be primarily used to power oil rigs in untapped Artic region’s remote areas where Russia is pushing to drill for oil and gas since global warming and melting ice has made earlier ice covered Northeast Passage (connecting Atlantic Ocean to Pacific along Russia’s northern coast) more accessible.

Concerns

Environmentalists and critics have dubbed Akademik Lomonosov’s as ‘nuclear Titanic’ or ‘Chernobyl on ice’ citing to previous Russian and Soviet nuclear accidents (1986 Chernobyl disaster). They have warned that Akademik Lomonosov’s mission increases risk of polluting pristine Arctic – a remote, sparsely-populated region with no big clean-up facilities.

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