Nuclear Technology Current Affairs - 2020

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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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Nageshwara Rao Guntur appointed as Chairperson of Atomic Energy Regulatory Board

Union Government has appointed renowned scientist Nageshwara Rao Guntur as Chairperson of Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB). His appointment as the AERB chairperson will be for three years. Guntur is the chairman, Project Design Safety Committee, Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) and former distinguished scientist Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL).

Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB)

It was established in November 1983 to carry out certain regulatory and safety functions in the fields of nuclear and radiation safety on a countrywide basis. It was constituted by President of India by exercising powers conferred by Section 27 of Atomic Energy Act, 1962 to carry out certain regulatory and safety functions under the Act. The regulatory authority of AERB is derived from rules and notifications promulgated under Atomic Energy Act, 1962 and Environmental (Protection) Act, 1986. It is headquartered is in Mumbai, Maharashtra. Its mission is to ensure that use of ionising radiation and nuclear energy in India does not cause undue risk to health and environment. Currently, it consists of full-time Chairman, an ex officio Member, three part-time Members and Secretary.

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