— Floating reactors: avoiding another Fukushima or creating more damage and risk? (VIDEO)

This short must-see video by MIT Associate Professor Jacopo Buongiorno. Download this video and save it.

Quotes from the article below and the video:

“The ocean is inexpensive real estate.”

“The ocean itself can be used as an infinite heat sink.

“The decay heat which is generated by the nuclear fuel, even after the reactor is shut down, can be removed indefinitely,”

Jacopo Buongiorno, MIT

The collaborators listed in the article don’t include biologists, marine biologists, meteorologists, oceanographers, or medical experts. This is an economic development project with some safety-appearing measures.

 

From RT

18 Apr, 2014

A group of American engineers proposed bringing nuclear power generating facilities out to sea, to secure them from earthquakes and tsunamis, and prevent a possible meltdown threat by submerging a reactor’s active zone.

A report by American scientists to be presented at the Small Modular Reactors Symposium, hosted by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, suggests that a nuclear power plant could be built in a form of standardized floating offshore platforms similar to modern drilling oil rigs and anchored about 10km out into the ocean. Electric power would be transferred to land by underwater cables.

Jacopo Buongiorno, associate professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), who led the research, believes the project has a number of crucial advantages.

The main peculiarity of the new project is that a reactor is put into the underwater part of the facility, where it would be securely cooled by seawater in case of an emergency.

“The ocean itself can be used as an infinite heat sink. The decay heat, which is generated by the nuclear fuel even after the reactor is shutdown, can be removed indefinitely,” Buongiorno said, adding that “The reactor containment itself is essentially underwater.”

Such NPP would be safe from earthquakes and also from tsunamis inflicted by aftershocks. Back in 2011, a combination of these two devastated the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan, which led to breakdown of the reactors’ cooling systems and eventually ended with meltdown of two reactors’ active cores. Radioactive fallout from that catastrophe is set to contaminate the Pacific Ocean for many years to come.

Positioning the plant should also be a simple process: just tow the station to wherever it is needed and moor it to the seafloor. No need to look for a seismically safe place with plenty of water, a sea or lake, nearby as with traditional nuclear power plants.

“The ocean is inexpensive real estate,” Buongiorno said.

The all-steel sea-based construction of the facility also eliminates the need for expensive concrete works, which make up a considerable part of the cost of any nuclear power plant.

Buongiorno stressed the versatility of the project which could be adjusted to match any energy consumption need, be it 50 or 1,000 megawatts.

“It’s a flexible concept,” he said.

The personnel of the plant could work on rotating scheme, with living quarters placed atop of the facility.

When the working lifespan of such plant is expired, it could be decommissioned the same way it is currently done nuclear submarines’ reactors, a well-proven technology considerably less expensive than decommission of a ground-based nuclear power plant.

The project is being developed by MIT Professors Jacopo Buongiorno, Michael W. Golay, Neil E. Todreas and other MIT staff, with support from the University of Wisconsin, and the major US nuclear plant and offshore platform construction company Chicago Bridge and Iron.

Developers of the project believe the concept could be required by many countries, in the first place earthquake- and tsunami-prone Japan, Indonesia, Chile etc.

Russia’s floating nuclear power plant nearly complete

The idea of constructing sea-based nuclear power facilities is definitely not new yet only one country has so far managed to bring such a project to reality.

Russia is in the process of finalizing construction of a 70 megawatt floating nuclear co-generation plant named ‘Akademik Lomonosov’, after a famous Russian scientist of the 18th century. The project implies construction of a series, probably seven, of vessel-mounted, non-self-propelled autonomous power facilities.

Launched in 2010 by state-owned Rosatom nuclear energy corporation, the project is now in the final stage of construction at the Baltic shipyard in St. Petersburg.

The vessel hosting the plant is measured 140 by 30 meters and with 5.5-meter draught has a displacement of 21,500 tons. The crew of the plant consists of 70 engineers.

The power unit of the plant consists of two 35MW KLT-40C nuclear reactors and two steam-driven turbines.

The plant will be generating enough power to serve 200,000 people.

Unlike the floating plant proposed by the American engineers, ‘Akademik Lomonosov’ is not just a power generator. It also produces 300 megawatt of heat that could be transferred onshore. This will be equal to saving 200,000 tons of coal every year.

This is the major difference between the Russia’s nuclear power plant and American project, which sacrificed heat generation to security matters. An American plant moored 10 km off the coast cannot transfer hot water ashore so it will waste the heat and only warm up the waters nearby.

The facility could also be converted into desalination plant producing 240,000 cubic meters of fresh water per day, an immensely interesting solution for seaside countries with scarce water resources situated in Northern Africa and the Middle East.

The plant, with a lifespan of 40 years, will be re-fueled every three years and will have a 12-year service cycle, when the plant will undergo servicing and maintenance at the Baltic shipyard.

The equipment for the floating power plant has been developed and supplied by 136 companies and subcontractors.

Deployment of a nuclear facility out to sea have raised concerns of such environmental organizations as Greenpeace, which maintained that sea-based nuclear facility is prone to torpedo and missile attacks and could also be seized by terrorists striving to obtain nuclear materials for a ‘dirty’ nuclear bomb.

For all that Russia has well over 50 years of experience of operating nuclear powered icebreakers, nuclear submarines and other vessels, most of them specifically built for operation in the extreme conditions of the Arctic Ocean.

That’s why Rosatom is considering deployment of floating nuclear power plants to any region with either difficult weather conditions, such as the port of Pevek in the Russian Arctic or Vilyuchinsk on the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia’s Pacific region, notorious for frequent seismic activities.

https://www.rt.com/news/floating-nuclear-power-plant-040/

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— Russia starts work on Arctic dock for 1st-ever floating nuclear power plant

The Russian Federation usually exhibits much more caution and common sense. Nuclear energy is their catastrophically huge blindspot. 

The generating unit of the world's first floating nuclear power plant Academician Lomonosov, was launched at the Baltiysky Zavod Shipyard of the United Industrial Corporation (UIC). © Alexei Danichev
The generating unit of the world’s first floating nuclear power plant Academician Lomonosov, was launched at the Baltiysky Zavod Shipyard of the United Industrial Corporation (UIC). © Alexei Danichev / Sputnik

From RT

October 7, 2016

The world’s first floating nuclear power plant is set to start producing power and heat in 2019. While the plant is already being tested, construction of the dock has begun on the Arctic coast in Russia’s Far East.

The construction works on the dock, which will host the floating nuclear power plant ‘Akademik Lomonosov’, kicked off Wednesday in the bay of the city of Pevek, Chukotka, RIA Novosti reports.

The severity of weather conditions (in winter, the temperature drops down to minus 60 degrees Celcius) obliging, the onshore facilities will be forced to endure ice impact and squalling winds. 

Road sign not far from Anadyr. © Konstantin Chalabov

Contractor company Zapsibgidrostroy’s Director-General Marat Kharisov, in charge of the construction, said the dock will be ready by October 2019.

The plant, work on which was announced back in 2007, will consist of the floating power-generating unit, the dock with onshore facilities for transmitting electricity and heat, and waterworks.

© Google maps

The facility, which is scheduled to start operating by the end of 2019, is set to replace the generating capacities of the Bilibino nuclear power plant and Chaunsky thermal power plant, which currently supply Chukotka Region with energy and heat.

According to the , the new NPP has electric power capacity of 75 MW, almost twice as much as Bilibino.

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The cost of the floating plant is estimated at around 30 billion rubles (US$480 million),  to Sergey Zavyalov, head of the plant construction.

The power-generating unit for ‘Akademik Lomonosov’ is currently going through dock trials at the Baltic shipyard in St. Petersburg, known for manufacturing ships of Russia’s nuclear icebreaker fleet and the world’s only shipbuilder with experience building civilian naval reactors.

The 21,000-tons unit will have two Russian-designed KLT-40S reactors, low-enriched uranium-fueled reactors used in some of Russia’s icebreakers, and two steam-driven turbines. One unit is able to provide enough electricity to power a city of 200,000 people. It can also produce 300 megawatt of heat that can be transferred onshore, equal to saving some 200,000 tons of coal every year.

The main element of Concern Energoatom project, the generating unit of the world's first floating nuclear power plant Academician Lomonosov, was launched at the Baltiysky Zavod Shipyard of the United Industrial Corporation (UIC). © 
Alexei Danichev
The main element of Concern Energoatom project, the generating unit of the world’s first floating nuclear power plant Academician Lomonosov, was launched at the Baltiysky Zavod Shipyard of the United Industrial Corporation (UIC). © Alexei Danichev / Sputnik

The FPU is not self-propelled and must be towed to the location of operation. It is a barge consisting of three decks and 10 compartments. Apart from reactors, it is equipped with storage facilities for fresh and spent nuclear fuel, as well as liquid and solid nuclear waste.

Experts have praised floating power plants for being secure from earthquakes and tsunamis, as well as from meltdown threats, as the reactor’s active zone is underwater.

Reactor units are small and self-contained. They are nothing like those installed at the Chernobyl nuclear power station, of course. A scenario like that at the Fukushima power plant is also excluded,” Professor Georgy Tikhomirov of the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute recently  EFE news agency.

The crew of the plant consists of 70 engineers.

It’s like a journey on a cruise ship. The staff will be living on the platform in four-star hotel conditions, with all the amenities, because they have to spend a whole year in the cabins,” Tikhomirov added.

The FPU will have a service life of up to 40 years, with three operating cycles of 12 years. After each cycle the unit will be towed to the shipyard for repairs, defueling, refueling and radioactive waste removal.

The concept of floating nuclear power generating facilities is not new, with the US and  announcing research in the sphere lately, but ‘Akademik Lomonosov’ may become the first such facility actually to go into operation.

The deployment of nuclear facilities out to sea, however, also raises concerns of environmentalists, who warn that despite claims they answer all security guidelines for nuclear power facilities, these guidelines were written when the concept did not yet exist and thus should be revised.

Greenpeace, for instance,  that a sea-based nuclear facility is prone to torpedo and missile attacks, and could also be seized by terrorists who could use nuclear materials to create a nuclear bomb.