atw Vol. 63 (2018) | Issue 3 ı March
Russian Nuclear Energy Technologies
for the Development of the Arctic
Andrej Yurjewitsch Gagarinskiy
Small nuclear facilities have become an integral part of two important areas of human activities, namely, they are the
basis of nuclear ships and scientific/educational research reactors that are in fact the main training facilities for new
nuclear specialists all over the world. However, despite great and justified expectations of their developers, small
nuclear power plants (SNPPs), with their obvious advantages (compared to conventional energy sources) in hardlyaccessible
areas, have not yet managed to start playing a notable role in the power industry.
This is also completely true as concerns the task of using
nuclear technologies for the development of the Arctic,
where only the nuclear ship propulsion can be considered
as an accomplished technology .
1 Civil nuclear ships
Russia is the world’s only country that has civil nuclear
ships in operation. Nuclear shipbuilding experience of
other countries (Savannah, 1962–1979, USA; Otto Hahn,
1968–1980, FRG; and Mutsu, 1974 –1991, Japan) was
relatively brief. Plans to construct nuclear icebreakers
repeatedly declared by countries such as USA, Canada,
Argentina and China are still just intentions.
Table 1 presents both the past (starting from the
world’s first nuclear icebreaker Lenin) and the present of
Russia’s civil nuclear fleet, which is intended exclusively
for the development of the country’s Arctic regions.
Currently the Russian civil nuclear shipbuilding is
resurging. To timely replace the existing icebreakers to
enable reliable continuous navigation and year-round
delivery of goods via the Northern Sea Route, the
government in the summer of 2011 has decided to build
and launch three universal nuclear icebreakers: the pilot
one in 2017 and two serial ones in 2019 and 2020,
respectively. The pilot icebreaker’s keel was laid at the
Baltic Plant in 2013.
The Iceberg Design Bureau has developed a detailed
design of a nuclear icebreaker with improved icebreaking
capability and variable draught (from 10.5 m in deep
waters to 8.5 m in shallow ones). This variable draught
would allow this icebreaker to operate not only in Arctic
seas, but also in the mouths of northern rivers. The new
nuclear facility – RITM-200 – developed by OKBM
Afrikantov for this icebreaker includes two integral PWRs
of 175 MWth each; its lifetime makes up to 40 years and its
period of continuous operation is 26,000 hours.
Icebreaker parameters are: displacement – 23,000 t;
length – 172.2 m, width – 33 m, height – 15 m, speed – 22
knots. This ship – that would allow for up to 6 months of
independent sailing – is intended for operation in the
Western Arctic (Barents Sea, Pechora Sea, Kara Sea, mouth
of the Yenissei and the Ob Bay region). This pilot icebreaker
Arktika (Figure 1), already afloat, is currently
under construction at the Baltic Plant, as well as two serial
icebreakers of the same design, Sibir (Arktika’s successor
on the berth) and Ural (keel laid). As by late 2017, their
commissioning was expected between 2019 and 2021.
| | Fig. 1.
Launching of the new Arktika, 2016.
Revised version of a
paper presented at
the Annual Meeting
of Nuclear Technology
(AMNT 2017), Berlin.
ENERGY POLICY, ECONOMY AND LAW
Ship Year of commissioning Power facility Current status
Lenin 1959 2 OK-900 reactors,
32.4 MW (44,000 hp)
Arktika 1975 2 reactors,
55 MW (75,000 hp)
Decommissioned in 1989
Museum since 2010
Decommissioned in 2008
Sibir 1977 same Decommissioned in 1992
Sent for disposal in 2016
Rossiya 1985 same Decommissioned in 2013
Sovetsky Soyuz 1989 same Decommissioned in 2010
Restoration being considered
Yamal 1989 2 OK-900A reactors In operation
Taymyr 1989 KLT-40 reactor,
36.8 MW (50,000 hp.)
Vaygach 1990 same In operation
50 Let Pobedy 2007 2 reactors,
55 MW (75,000 hp)
Sevmorput (LASH) 1988 29.4 MW (39,000 hp) In operation
(restored in 2013–2015
| | Tab. 1.
Russian civil nuclear fleet.
Energy Policy, Economy and Law
Russian Nuclear Energy Technologies for the Development of the Arctic ı Andrej Yurjewitsch Gagarinskiy