Sunday, March 21, 2010

Russian Company Akme: Backyard Reactor by 2019

New Russian startup Akme (atomic complex for small and medium energy) aims to produce nuclear power reactors small enough to fit in "an American backyard" by 2019. According to the New York Times:
The Russian company, Akme, is an acronym for atomic complex for small and medium energy and sometimes renders its name in English as Acme.

Akme’s goal is to produce a prototype of a 100-megawatt nuclear reactor small enough to fit into a typical American backyard by 2019.

The company was founded in December as a joint venture of Rosatom, the state nuclear power corporation, and a private electricity company owned by the Kremlin-connected oligarch Oleg V. Deripaska. It has $500 million in start-up capital.

A minireactor will likely cost about $100 million.

The design Akme chose is peculiar because it is cooled with a molten lead alloy, not water. In fact, the Soviet Union was the only nation to deploy liquid metal reactors at sea. Introduced in the 1970s, they packed enough power to propel submarines more than 45 miles per hour underwater. In fact, they were so powerful they compelled NATO to design an entirely new class of torpedo. _NYT

Russia's safety record when it comes to nuclear reactors is less than attractive. But if Akme can produce its molten lead-cooled reactors cheaply enough to allow expanded electrical power use inside countries of third world Asia and Africa, it may spur western regulatory agencies to speed up appraisal and approval of designs by companies such as B&W, Westinghouse, General Atomics, and other companies with established safety records.

More from an earlier announcement of Akme's SVBR-100:
The name SVBR-100 comes from the Russian 'Svintsovo-Vismutovyi Bystryi Reaktor' which means 'lead-bismuth fast reactor' and the electric generating capacity, 100 MWe.

It uses chemically inert heavy liquid metal coolant in a primary circuit entirely integrated into the reactor pressure vessel. The coolant increases from 345 °C to 495 °C on passage through the reactor core and this heat is transferred to a secondary circuit and used to drive a steam turbine. From a gross thermal power of 280 MWt the net output would be 100 MWe, although smaller models are also on the drawing board and the original submarine version produced 155 MWt.

The reactor unit would be factory assembled and shipped to site for installation inside a tank of water that would provide passive heat removal and radiation shielding. Uranium oxide enriched to 16.5% uranium-235 would be one fuelling option. Reloads would only be carried out every seven to eight years.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear sir/Madam

I am a Master student in nuclear engineering who is working on her master thesis now. Part of my topic which I am working on, concerns "Economical Feasibility of Triga Research Reactor 500-1000KW". I looked for some information through the web but, as you may know it is difficult to find financial information (Just scientific and technical info found ! ). I thought you might be able to help in this way by giving me some materials (or guid me) about financial aspects (cost, economy, ..) of designing and constructing an above mentioned reactor or any other kind with the same power. I appreciate your help and kindness in advance.

with best regards
Mehrnaz Soraya
MSc Student

12:53 PM  

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