One of the two reactors aboard Russia's first floating nuclear power plant, Akademik Lomonosov, has achieved a sustained chain reaction for the first time. The second reactor will be started up and tests carried out before the plant is towed to Pevek next year.
"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 nuclear corporation Rosatom told Ria Novosti. "The reactor unit reached the minimum controlled power level at 5.58pm Moscow time."
Comprehensive testing of the reactor is expected to start within a few days. The vessel's second reactor will be started in the near future. All the final technological operations at the facility are scheduled to be completed by the end of this year.
The keel of Akademik Lomonosov was laid in April 2007 at Sevmash in Severodvinsk, but in August 2008 Rosatom cancelled the contract - apparently due to the military workload at Sevmash - and transferred it to the Baltic Shipyard in Saint Petersburg, which has experience in building nuclear icebreakers. New keel-laying took place in May 2009 and the hull was launched at the end of June 2010. The two 35 MWe KLT-40S reactors were installed in October 2013.
Akademik Lomonosov - 144 metres in length, 30 metres wide and having a displacement of 21,000 tonnes - left the Baltiysky Zavod Shipyard on 28 April. It arrived in Murmansk on 17 May after having been towed over 4000 kilometres and travelling through four seas: the Baltic, Northern, Norwegian and Barents.
The loading of fuel into the two reactors aboard the floating plant began on 24 July and was completed on 2 October.
The vessel is expected to be towed to its permanent base at Pevek in Russia's Chukotka region in the summer of 2019. Construction work is under way in Pevek, Russia's northernmost city, to create all 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.
"The capacity of the floating nuclear power plant is higher than the current need for Pevek," Vitaly Trutnev, head of the construction and operation of the floating nuclear power plant, was quoted as saying by Vesti. He added that the floating plant will allow for the development of the region.