Russia’s floating nuclear power plant has for the first time achieved a sustained chain reaction of one of the two reactors at its mooring in Murmansk harbour last week.
The Akademik Lomonosov’s second reactor will be started up and tests carried out before the plant is towed to Pevek next year, reported World Nuclear News.
"The physical launch of the reactor unit on the starboard side of the floating nuclear power plant Akademik Lomonosov happened on Friday," a spokesperson for state-owned nuclear corporation Rosatom told Ria Novosti news agency.
"The reactor unit reached the minimum controlled power level at 5.58pm Moscow time."
A series of reactor tests will now follow, according to the official, and the second reactor on the port side of the nuclear barge will be brought to minimum power in the coming days. All the final technological operations at the facility are scheduled to be completed by the end of this year.
Akademik Lomonosov is 144 metres in length, 30 metres wide and has a displacement of 21,000 tonnes. The loading of fuel into the two reactors aboard the floating plant began on 24 July and was completed on 2 October.
Replacing retired power plants
The vessel is expected to be towed to its permanent base at Pevek in Russia's Chukotka region in 2019. Construction work is under way in Pevek, Russia's northernmost city, to create the necessary on-shore infrastructure.
Rosatom said that once in operation the facility will be both the world's only operational floating nuclear power plant and the northernmost nuclear installation.
Akademik Lomonosov will replace the Bilibino nuclear power plant and the Chaunskaya thermal power plant, which are being retired. The first Bilibino unit is scheduled to be shut down next year and the whole plant will be shut down in 2021.
According to Rosatom, the Akademik Lomonosov floating nuclear power unit (FPU) is the main project of the series of mobile transportable power units of low power. It is designed to work as a part of the Floating Nuclear Thermal Power Plant (FNPP) and is of a new class of power sources on the basis of Russian technologies of nuclear shipbuilding.
The nuclear power plant will contain two KLT-40S reactor units that can generate up to 70MW of electric energy and 50 Gcal/hr of heat energy during normal operation.
Floating nuclear power plant safety concerns
The FPU is the unique and the world’s first project of the mobile transportable power unit of low power. It is designed for the operation at the areas of the Extreme North and the Russian Far East.
— Scott Stapf (@stapf) November 5, 2018
Its main task is to provide the remote industrial plants, port cities, as well as the offshore gas and oil platforms with electric energy.
The FNPP is designed with the great margin of safety that exceeds all possible threats and makes nuclear reactors invincible for tsunamis and other natural disasters. In addition, the nuclear processes at the floating power unit meet all requirements of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and do not pose any threat to the environment, states Rosatom.