Russia to Build Floating Commercial Nuclear Reactor
June 19, 2006 2:19 AM
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The floating nuclear reactors would provide power and heat to Arctic regions
Russia's Atomic Power Agency and an Arctic military shipbuilding plant
have both agreed to build the world's first commercial floating nuclear fission reactor
, which should be in use in as early as 2010. The first floating reactor that Rosenergoatom and Sevmash build is estimated to cost around $336 million -- it will be deployed in a remote, sparsely-populated region on Siberia's northern coast, where electric and thermal supply is very limited. Russian president Vladimir Putin hopes to bump the nation's electricity generated by nuclear reactors from 17 percent to 25 percent.
Although Russian authorities believe floating nuclear plants are safe, not everyone is as supportive. Environmentalists like Charles Digges, editor of a Norwegian and Russian arctic nuclear publication, believes that floating nuclear plants are "absolutely unsafe - inherently so." However, the head of Russia's Federal Atomic Power Agency has dismissed all criticism while saying that there will not be a floating Chernobyl incident.
Nuclear fission isn't the only game in town anymore.
are all racing to increase the world's knowledge on nuclear fusion as well.
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RE: good idea
6/19/2006 6:56:24 PM
The problem in your reasoning is that you assume any destruction of a nuclear facility will result in a critical reaction akin to an atomic bomb exploding.
This is not true.
Nuclear power reactors place uranium or plutonium in such a configuration that, even if unregulated, they will not result in a critical reaction - instead they react in a very slow growth toward criticality that results in the heat they generate being sufficient to melt through the container holding them, the concrete beneath, the earth, etc. This the notion commonly referred to as a "meltdown": the reactants melt through the surface of the earth.
In fact, Chernobyl was a case of a meltdown - what happened was that when the molten core material had melted through the innermost vessel, it actually mixed with some of the material it has melted through, making the molten material less concentrated and therefore easing the nuclear reaction. In the case of Three Mile Island, the core melted, but was unable to penetrate the innermost vessel.
However, at no point does a thermonuclear explosion take place. For that to happen, not only would the core have to melt down - but it would have to be highly compressed to the point where it achieved sufficient density as to go critical. This is one of the parts that makes nuclear weapons so hard to build - you really have to compress it down to extraordinarily high densities, and it will not do so itself.
Look at the first two nukes that the US built: "Fat Man" used a very carefully-designed array of high explosives assembled into a shell configuration that would create extraordinary implosive force inside the shell. Then a critical mass (approx 50lbs if I recall correctly) of highly-purified (much more highly purified than is used in commercial reactors, incidentally) plutonium was placed at the center. When the reaction was desired, the implosion took place, compressing the plutonium to the degree necessary to create a critical reaction.
With uranium, on the other hand, the density required is much lower, but the purity of the fissionables must be much higher - and the purity of the fissionables used in commercial reactors is nowhere near enough.
Long story short, the Chernobyl meltdown was just about as bad of a scenario as is realistic - and did not kill anywhere near the "millions" you so breathlessly imagine.
All in all, the evidence supports masher's conclusions: the notion that a nuclear accident at a commercial power reactor could result in "millions of deaths" is fallacious.
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