Akademik Lomonosov

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Last Updated: June 9, 2014
Other Name: Academician Lomonosov, Академик Ломоносов, Плавучие АЭС
Location: TBD, perhaps Vilyuchinsk, Kamchatka, Russian Federation
Subordinate To: RosEnergoAtom
Size: Two 35MWe Nuclear Reactors, 144 meters long, 30 meters wide, and 10 meters height
Facility Status: Under Construction

The Russian Federation has positioned itself as a leading international supplier of nuclear fuel, nuclear technology and related services. Russia is adapting technology from its existing fleet of nuclear powered icebreakers to build floating nuclear power plants (FNPPs) to provide heat and energy to its remote regions, and assist in natural resource extraction. Additionally, Russia hopes to lease the plants to other countries, where they will be used to provide electricity and for water desalinization. [1] Construction on the lead vessel of the class, the ‘Akademik Lomonosov’ began in 2007 at the Sevmash shipyard in Severodvisnk, the extreme north of Russia. In August 2008, the hull of the under-construction ‘Akademik Lomonosov’ was transferred to the Baltiysky Zavod shipyard in St. Petersburg. [2] The Baltiskiy shipyard is where the ships of Russia's nuclear icebreaker fleet were built, and it is the world’s only shipbuilder with recent experience building civilian naval reactors.

The Lomonosov is a flat hulled barge equipped with two nuclear power units, and does not have a propulsion system of its own. This means it will have to be towed to its location of operation by auxiliary ships. Once there, it will be connected to onshore infrastructure to provide power transmission and support services. The two nuclear power units are powered by two low enriched uranium (LEU) versions of the KLT-40s, a variant of the highly enriched uranium (HEU) reactors used on some of Russia’s icebreakers. [3] Once operational the Lomonosov will be able to power a city of 200,000 people, provide heat and power for natural resource extraction or desalination, and provide power in emergency situations. In order to minimize the need for special transportation arrangements, or dedicated maintenance ships, the vessel’s design incorporates storage for both fresh- and spent-nuclear fuel, as well as designated storage for liquid and solid nuclear waste. The vessel consists of three decks divided into 10 compartments, measures 144 meters long by 30 meters wide by 10 meters tall, and displaces roughly 21,500 tons of water. The vessel also has quarters for its crew of roughly 70, who are responsible for operating the reactors and maintaining the vessel between overhauls. [4]

The ‘Lomonosov’ is designed to operate in three, 12 year operational cycles. At the end of each period, the vessel will be towed back to the RosAtomFlot shipyard in Murmansk for repairs, defueling, refueling, and radioactive waste removal. [5] In order to ensure a constant supply of power, FNPPs can be operated in fleets, with a new FNPP arriving before the old departs. As Russia continues to develop plans for ‘fleets’ of FNPPs, many analysts have raised concerns about the safety, security, and proliferation risks associated with the project. Since this concept of operations is entirely new for civilian power infrastructure, Russia will have to answer questions about the safety, security and IAEA safeguards implications of this new technology before seeking to expand its investment in FNPPs or lease them on the international market. [6]

See further analysis of these issues.

[1] "Reactors ready for floating plant," World Nuclear News, 7 August 2009, www.world-nuclear-news.org.
[2] "Baltiyskiy Zavod OJSC (St. Petersburg) has started assembling the main floating NPP," Rosatom, 19 May 2009, www.rosatom.ru.
[3] “KLT-40S Reactor Plant for the floating CNPP FPU,” JSC «Afrikantov OKBM», Undated, www.okbm.nnov.ru.
[4] Alexander Nikitin and Leonid Andreyev, “Floating Nuclear Power Plants,” Bellona Report, 2011.
[5] Mark Dowdall and William J.F. Standring, "Floating Nuclear Power Plants and Associated Technologies in the Northern Areas," Statens Stralavern, 2008.
[6] Martin Matishak, "Floating Nuclear Reactors Could Fall Prey to Terrorists, Experts Say," Global Security Newswire, 6 August 2010, http://gsn.nti.org; "Safety and Ecological Compatibility of Floating NPP," Rosenergoatom, www.rosenergoatom.ru.

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This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents. Copyright 2019.