Rosatom to launch world’s first floating nuclear power plant

July 9th, 2016, Published in Articles: EE Publishers, Articles: Energize

 

In 2019 the world’s first floating nuclear power plant “Akademik Lomonosov” will begin operation in the most northern part of Russia. But in reality it can be operated anywhere around the world. The floating nuclear power plant is a mobile power unit, providing energy generation where and when needed. “Akademik Lomonosov” producers above 70 MW of power.

The nuclear thermal and power plant comprises two reactor units. Its construction is based on Rosatom’s icebreaker power unit that operates in the Arctic, but unlike them, it is not self-propelled but has to be hauled by water to the destination point. There the floating nuclear power plant (FNPP) is connected to on-shore infrastructure to provide settlements with electricity and heat. The floating power unit is designed to supply power to port cities, major industrial enterprises and offshore complexes producing oil and gas.

The world’s first FNPP will be put into operation in the city of Pevek in Chukotka in 2019. Its main rated characteristics per reactor unit (RU) are:

  • Thermal power: 150 MW
  • Vapor capacity: 240 t/h
  • Primary circuit pressure: 12,7 Mpa
  • Vapor pressure downstream: VG 3,72 Mpa
  • primary circuit temperature: 290ºС

This article studies the details of the world’s first floating nuclear power plant, and the possibilities for its future use.

Background

The technical basis of the FNPP reactor unit is the technology of civil and military vessel-born nuclear reactors used in Russia. History of their use includes more than 460 reactors with a total lifetime of more than 6500 reactor-years. This includes KLT-40 type installations, which have been used successfully and without failure in difficult ice conditions in the 1980s. In the Soviet Union, seven icebreakers and one nuclear barge carrier were built and successfully operated using OK-900 and KLT-40 reactor systems. Reliability and failure-free operation of nuclear vessels became the reason why leading enterprises in the field of civil nuclear shipbuilding proposed an idea of a vessel-born nuclear reactor for heat and power generation.

Akademik Lomonosov”

The FNPP will be located in the city of Pevek in the autonomous region of Chukotka, to replace the Chaun-Bilibino energy system which is being decommissioned. It should be noted that in the process of developing the specifications and documentation, specialists successfully resolved a number of complicated issues related to the deployment and operation of the floating power unit (FPU), including finding measures to prevent exposure of FPUs to significant seismic loads, residual tsunami waves and significant ice load. Environmental issues were approached arising from the possible thawing of permafrost zone and water warm-up at the FPU mooring location. Unique devices were developed to securely attach the FPU to hydraulic utilities, to supply electric power and to transfer thermal energy. Such devices can operate successfully even with vertical movement of the FPU near its berth of over 4 m due to tides.

The FPU will be installed and connected to the pier-berth hydraulic installations using mooring rods, which will provide rigid mooring. Hydraulic utilities are necessary not only to ensure the FPU mooring, but also to protect it from external influences. In Pevek this will primarily be the huge ice load. The construction of the pier-berth and restraining utilities allows the mooring system to withstand all rated and overload conditions safely, including wind speed up to 52 m/s and ice thickness up to 2,5 m, including possible formation of hummocks during periods of unfavorable weather, as well as extremely low temperatures down to -50оС.

Design

The FPU is a non-self-propelled rack type vessel with double bottom, double sides and well designed superstructure. In the middle of the FPU is a central energy compartment with two KLT-40 reactor units and a compartment for reloading and storing spent fuel. In the bow, there are engine rooms and several switchgear power conversion rooms. Stern rooms are for emergency diesel generators, backup diesel generators and living quarters. The FPU hull is made as a pontoon with pointed nose tip and a transom stern.

It should be noted that the whole floating nuclear power plant (FNPP) comprises includes three components – the floating power unit (FPU), the hydraulic utilities, and the on-shore area. The FPU is a non-self-propelled vessel, housing the reactor and steam-turbine plant (STP), living quarters and other equipment. To ensure the safety of the FPU, it is provided with an optimal combination of active and passive safety systems. Internal self-protection properties are enforced. Radiation effects on humans and environment during normal operation and any emergency situations, including beyond-design scenarios, does not exceed the level of natural background radiation. The estimated service life of the FPU is 40 years. All systems for nuclear fuel and materials treatment are housed within the FPU. Core refueling and storage of spent fuel are also on the board of the vessel. The electric capacity of FPU is 70 MW, with heating power of 50 Gcal/hr.

Hydraulic utilities include:

  • A pier-berth protecting the FPU from external influences
  • Mooring posts providing reliable fastening of FPU
  • A connecting pier facilitating the transfer of thermal and electrical power to the shore, and communications with the shore

The on-shore area hosts:

  • A transformer substation and switchgear
  • Process buildings and facilities with central heat distribution station and equipment to prepare and transfer the thermal energy to consumers
  • An office building
  • Buildings and facilities to ensure the physical protection of the complex
  • Utilities going from the FNPP to the onshore facilities

To ensure autonomous operation of the FPU on-board energy unit, a set of instruments for nuclear fuel and radioactive waste treatment is located on the vessel, including fresh fuel assemblies, fuel handling complex, spent fuel assemblies and SRW storage.

FNPP

Infrastructure

The FPU provides accommodation for 70 people (crew) in comfortable single-bed compartments.

For meals, recreation, sports and everyday services there is a dining room for 60 people, lounge, conference room and information center, library, smoking room, sports complex (gym, fitness room, swimming pool, sauna and steam bath), lounge with bar, hairdresser, shop, laundry and everyday services room. There are also galley and food premises for cooking and food storage, and and on-board first aid clinic. Thus, if necessary, the FPU can work far from any populated settlements.

The FPU is designed to work as a part of the nuclear and thermal power plant, and provides a rated power supply to coastal networks of 60 MW, and 50 Gcal/h of thermal energy to warm up the heating water. In various modes of operation, the FNPP can transfer to the consumer from 44 to 70 MW of electric power and from 50 to 146 Gcal of heat.

Mode of operation

The following mode of FPU operation has been designed:

The FPU can work three years with one nuclear fuel load, after that the spent fuel is loaded into storage, and new nuclear fuel is loaded into the reactor. The whole equipment complex necessary to handle the fuel is located on board the FPU. Thus, FPU can work at the home base for up to 12 years, after which it is hauled to a special facility for depot maintenance. The assigned lifetime of the FPU is 40 years, with annual maintenance work on equipment done without removing the FPU from operating service.

Advantages

The advantage of a FNPP is that it can be factory built, and then delivered around world to the point of use by sea. The FNPP is also particularly suitable for locations where there are no other sources of electricity and thermal power.

Housing the nuclear and radiation components on the FPU, which is the major part of a FNPP,  allows the realisation of the “green lawn principle” i.e. other FNPP components such as on-shore and hydraulic structures that provide mooring and heat and power transfer to the consumers are not contaminated during operation.

The FPU is built at the manufacturer’s shipyard, which allows a significant reduction in the construction time of the the nuclear power and thermal plant, and also provides quality control and compliance with the technology requirements.

The main advantages of a FNPP compared to the construction of an onshore nuclear power plant of the same capacity are:

  • The investment cycle and construction costs are reduced due to minimal on-site construction and installation works (CIW)
  • The FPU is produced by qualified personnel at the manufacturer’s shipyard, and supplied “turnkey”
  • The FNPP can be situated as close to the consumer as necessary
  • The PFU can be operated on a rotational basis
  • The FPU is easy to decommission, and can be towed to a specialised facility for recycling

Development prospects

Vessels providing power supply are in high demand in ice-free seas, for example, for remote sites including mining and processing complexes, where power capacity requirements can reach up to 90 MW. Currently fossil-fuel power plants are still used for these applications. FNPP’s can also be deployed to provide an external power supply for offshore oil and gas facilities.

Interest in the Russian FNPPs has been shown by such countries as China and Indonesia, who have both signed memorandums of intent with Russia. On 29 July 2014, in Moscow, Rusatom Overseas, CJSC (a subsidiary of Rosatom State Corporation) and CNNC New Energy (China) signed a memorandum of intent related to the cooperation in the production of FNPPs.

Authors

Pavel Ipatov, Rosenergoatom
Sergey Zavyalov, Rosenergoatom
Mikhail Kucheryavenko, Rosenergoatom
Veniamin Ryzhkov, Atomproekt, OKBM Afrikantov

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