Libmonster ID: RU-17235
Author(s) of the publication: Marina KHALIZEVA

by Marina KHALIZEVA, journalist

In June of 2012 the 4th International Forum Atomexpo was held in the Grand Exhibition Hall "Gostiny Dvor" in the heart of Moscow near Red Square. The sponsor, Rosatom state corporation, brought together above 2,000 delegates representing around 500 companies from 53 countries to declare its development strategies and key priorities of the nuclear industry as well as demonstrate new trends and opportunities.

IN THE WAKE OF THE FUKUSHIMA ACCIDENT

The focal point of the meeting was the present situation in nuclear power engineering a year after the tech-nogenic disaster that occurred in the spring of 2011 at one of the 25 major atomic power stations (APS) in the world, Fukushima-1 (Japan). Because of the violent tsunami with its tidal wave three times higher than predicted, the APS cooling system was broken down, which caused the meltdown of the fuel cores of three out of six boiling light-water reactors and radiation leakage to the atmosphere and seawater. 140,000 people had to be evacuated. Owing to the high contamination level a number of districts posed a life hazard. Experts say elimination of the aftermath and dismantling of the reactors will take at least 40 years.

Countries which had launched their nuclear programs (like Thailand) shelved their plans just after the Japanese disaster. Italy and Germany canceled them, though many countries (about 130, including Vietnam, Turkey, Bangladesh, Belarus) confirmed their policy in building new APS since they found investments in power technologies profitable. Those countries constituted a major part of the forum.

The plenary session was attended by the below key persons of the world atomic industry. Those were President and Chief Executive Officer of Areva Luc Oursel (France), Minister of Energy of the Republic of South

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Africa Elizabeth Dipuo Peters, Minister of Energy of Belarus Alexander Ozerets, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources of Turkey Metin Kilci, President of Rolls-Royce Nuclear Lawrie Haynes (Great Britain), President of the Japan Atomic Industry Forum Takuya Hattori, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Uranium One Jan Telfer (Canada), Executive Vice-President of Forium Matti Ruotsala (Finland). Having recognized the weakening of a confidence level among the population in atomic power engineering after the Fukushima accident, the delegates noted nevertheless that the accident was below the critical point and the development of atom for peace would be on the increase. Last year only 10 new power units were connected to energy systems, and 5 APS already under construction after the accident. Moreover, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is of the opinion that by 2030 their number will increase to 350. Besides, the Japanese representative Takuya Hattori confirmed that in his country unconditional refusal of atomic energy was impossible as "people as a whole realize its vast opportunities".

However, another participant in the discussion, director of the Institute of Safe Development of Atomic Power Engineering, RAS corresponding member Leonid Bolshov maintained that atomic power engineering could be of great importance in the power balance of countries if APS would fit the reliability and safety cri-

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teria which should be "science-based and validated in detail". This problem was prioritized by major world producers of electrical and thermal energy at APS, including the Russian Rosenergoatom corporate group combining 10 stations in the territory of Russia. The Fukushima tragedy spurred all-out modernization of APS safety systems to the extent not planned earlier. In particular, the above corporate group developed and put into operation circuit designs allowing, if need be, easy connection of extra mobile diesel-generator and pumping setups to the main system of cooling and utilization of natural and newly introduced reserve water sources. It also provided for improved emergency power supply of reactor blocks and new seismic protection means, which secured automatic shutdown of a reactor in case of an earthquake. Such measures resulted in a multiple reduction of a heavy damage risk of the reactor core and upgraded the survivability and independence of APS to 5-10 days. According to first deputy general director of Rosenergoatom Vladimir Asmolov, Dr. Sc. (Tech.), the company group considers the cash expenses of $ 1,189.4 mln spent on modernization last year to be long-term investments in atomic power engineering.

We have also other competitive advantages such as installation at new construction facilities of third generation reactors equipped with passive safety systems superior to foreign analogs in a number of characteristics (double containment shell of a power unit, molten-core catchers*, hydrogen suppressor systems and other operational characteristics preventing emergencies according to the "Japanese scenario"), fuelling systems and decommissioning of reactor blocks at the end of their life-cycle; training of specialists for nuclear power engineering, project finance options, for example, in exchange for a share in the capital of future APS. Small wonder that Rosatom's stock of orders for construction of APS keeps growing. In 2011 alone this portfolio almost doubled from 12 to 21 reactor blocks. The head of the state corporation Sergei Kiriyenko considers it proof of high confidence in Russian technologies. Besides, countries which have just embarked on the path of atomic power engineering make their choice in our favor, and Russian specialists will construct the first APS in Vietnam, Bangladesh, Belarus and Nigeria.

The Republic of South Africa is also pinning great hopes on atomic power engineering. Minister of Energy of that country Ms Dipuo Peters said: "We intend strongly to bring the share of atomic energy in the country power balance to 25 percent by 2030 by building APS of 9.6 GW total capacity. Even the Fukushima accident did not affect these plans, the decision was taken several months after the emergency," she said. To cater to such needs her government is planning to construct above 29 reactor blocks in the near future. Our country has a good chance to get a big order like that."

ATOMIC AND WIND ENERGY

First deputy director general of Rosatom Alexander Lokshin said at the plenary meeting of the Atomexpo forum: " Perhaps I shall surprise you but our corporation contemplates its possible involvement in wind generation. At least in what concerns the production of such equipment." He explained that such projects are planned "not instead of atomic power generation but in

See: M. Khalizeva, "The Trap for Corium", Science in Russia, No. 5, 2012.--Ed.

Science in Russia, No.6, 2012

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addition to it." Atomenergomash, a division of Rosatom, has initiated the creation of its subsidiary VetroOGK for such purposes. This topical problem was on the agenda at a panel discussion attended by representatives of production and energy companies, financial institutions, solar and wind energy associations as well as state bodies.

There are 5 countries producing 74 percent of the global volume of ecologically clean wind energy (~250 GW per year). They are the USA, Germany, Spain, India and China, the leader in this field. She accounts for 43 percent of wind turbines on the world market. In the first half of 2011 alone China added 8 GW of wind-generated energy to her total energy network.

But what about Russia? R&D director of Rosatom Ivan Borisov said: "Most global prognosticators assign wind-power engineering as well as our core business, that is atomic power engineering, to the most rapidly growing and promising sectors of energy generation. Therefore, we consider wind in more detail than other renewable energy sources... In 10 years we shall offer a full energy solution that will include both APS but other methods of power generation." Rosatom has already advanced far enough in this direction. Oleg Popel, Dr. Sc. (Tech.), laboratory head of Renewable Energy Sources and Energy Saving of the Joint Institute of High Temperatures of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said in his comment on the above statement in the Izvestia newspaper in June of 2012: "Frankly speaking, there is but little success in the sphere of renewable energy sources but today the financially and technologically advanced representatives of clean power engineering, that is Russian nuclear scientists, are getting down to business. That looks promising." Such mood prevailed at the panel discussion.

Director General of VetroOGK and president of the Russian Association of Wind Energy Igor Bryzgunov said: "The installed capacity of the wind power stations operating now in Russia does not exceed 12 MW The total capacity of projects at the development stage is below 3 GW, and that of all the declared projects, above 10 GW." He believes such commissioning rates will make it possible to surpass the target set by the state, namely, to bring the volume of renewable energy sources in the total energy output to 4.5 percent by 2020.

Bryzgunov noted that most wind plants would be located in the European part of the country, in the northwest and also in the Far East, that is in regions experiencing power shortages and having a large potential for the development of renewable energy sources. But Siberia, Altai and southern Russia are also good for wind-driven power generators. He added that for this purpose such factors should be considered as environmental benefits (average annual wind speed ~7 m/s), a well-developed transportation infrastructure and communications.

But there are also opponents of wind power generation, namely, ecologists who point at the problem of noise, eminent domain of large areas and a negative action on the environment. But the advantages out-weighted the drawbacks, as proved by the modern research data. Lower carbon dioxide emission is the most weighty argument. The Global Wind Energy Council is of the opinion that world wind power engineering would bring down, annually, the C02 emission by 1.5 bin t by 2050. It was a large figure even against the

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cutbacks in wind-driven plants owing to the construction of new APS.

Panel discussion participants agreed that the lack of a regulatory framework was a key obstacle in advancing wind energy in Russia. Therefore, they invited the first deputy chairman of the Committee for Economic Policy of the Federation Council Valentin Mezhevich, who discussed, together with wind power producers, what should be done for building more of wind power plants in our country.

LESS POLITICS, MORE PRAGMATISM

A specialized exhibition was a fixture of Atomexpo whose area was doubled compared with the last year's because too many Russian and foreign enterprises of the atomic industry, suppliers of equipment, components and services for the industry, construction companies, information agencies and consulting firms filed applications for participation. As usual, experienced nuclear marketers came with their technologies: Rosatom proper and its business subdivisions such as TVEL, Rosenergoatom, Atomenergomash, Tekhsnabexport (Moscow) and also the leading Russian engineering company Groups E4*, World Nuclear Association (Great Britain), Canadian Energy Association CEA, Siemens (Germany), EDF Energy (France), Bentley Systems (USA), and others.

See: M. Malygina, "'Dry' Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel", Science in Russia, No. 5, 2012.--Ed.

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A general impression of the exhibition was expressed by one of its participants, director of the All-Russia Research Institute of Experimental Physics (VNIIEF, Sarov, Nizhni Novgorod Region) Valentin Kostyukov, Dr. Sc. (Tech.): "I've always liked the scope, organization and design of the exhibition and also that there has been less politics and more pragmatism from year to year. People just show a business approach, no pomp." But particular details are also of interest.

SUPERCOMPUTER

Many visitors to the exhibition associated the VNI-IEF* set up in 1946 within the framework of the Soviet atomic project, i.e. development of the first Soviet atomic bomb, with the institute concerned with the nuclear defense potential of our country. But not everybody realized that this research institute, which incorporated closely allied centers of theoretical and mathematical physics, nuclear and radiation physics and laser-physical investigations, allows solving many fundamental scientific and economic missions including those of making supercomputers** of different classes, namely, compact, midrange and record capacity computers.

At the joint stand of Rosatom the VNIIEF displayed a teraflops hardware-software complex APK-1M based on the upgraded compact computer KS which had taken the first place in the national contest "Product of the Year 2011" in the nomination "Supercomputers". It is Russia's greatest computer based on advanced engineering and architectural solutions including those offered by VNIIEF. The software of this complex was by and large developed and adjusted by specialists of the nuclear center.

Such supercomputers will enable enterprises, factories, design departments and research institutions engaged in the high-technology sphere to carry on a full-scale simulation modeling of complex technological facilities in search of new breakthrough solutions in the defense, nuclear, aviation, space, automobile and other industries. This computer cuts time for engineering and design calculations and increases their accuracy. The APK-1M complex, its designers say, is a designer's dream in modern projects analysis.

The compact design (650 mm long, 325 mm wide and 752 mm high) is another salient feature of the complex that allows to install the equipment in a user's workplace in any office. In contrast to its giant counterparts, the complex needs no extra cooling systems and special maintenance staff. Actually a slightly scaled-up personal computer was displayed at the exibition. The reduced noise characteristics and low power consumption (220 V, plugged in at a socket) are among the other assets of this supercomputer. According to deputy division head of the Institute of Theoretical and Mathematical Physics of VNIIEF Andrei Grebennikov, who presented the supercomputer at Atomexpo, the institute has already delivered above 50 APK teraflops complexes to customers, which caters to only 35 percent of the domestic demand. In his opinion, the higher demand for com-

See: A. Vodopshin, "On a Visit to Khariton", Science in Russia, No. 5, 2009.--Ed.

** See: S. Abramov, "Supercomputers of a New Generation", Science in Russia, No. 3, 2009.--Ed.

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pact computers is explained by the fact that the greater part of research in computer modeling in our companies requires no "capacities of dozens of thousands of processor units."

Today the VNIIEF priority program is to equip home science and industries with computing resources. But the institute does not exclude the possibility of entering the foreign market, since specialists in other countries are showing an interest in the APK-1M complex. The more so that a similar computer of foreign make costs twice as much.

It should be stressed that the compact supercomputer was developed within the framework of the project of the presidential executive commission on modernization and technological development of Russia, "Development of Supercomputers and Grid-Technologies".

NEW TYPE POWER PLANT

The Afrikantov R&D Design Office of mechanical engineering (incorporated in Rosatom--Atomenergo-mash), a longstanding enterprise of the atomic industry in Nizhni Novgorod, displayed mockups of the fast neutron reactor BN-800 with a sodium moderator and nuclear fuel breeding for the fourth block under construction at the Beloyarskaya APS (Zarechny, Sverdlovsk Region); also, a floating power generator based on the commercial ship plant KLT-40S for heat and electric supply of consumers in regions of the Extreme

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North and Far East, and the high-temperature helium-cooled reactor GT-MGR*. Special attention was given to a mockup of the nuclear power plant RITM-200 (integrated modular reactor)** for a new generation of atomic icebreakers, large marine vessels and floating fish factories. It incorporated the longtime experience of our icebreaker fleet*** on an up-to-date level. The design office in Nizhni Novgorod had been working on this power plant for 5 years.

Now, RITM-200 comprising two reactors of 170 MW heat rating each (140-150 MW on operating icebreakers). Such power plants can supply a town of 300,000 with heat and light.

Not this advantage alone. The main distinguishing feature of RITM is that its steam generators and the reactor core are placed in a single housing (integrated layout) which affected the mass and dimensions parameters of reactor that is twice as light and small as its predecessor. The latter parameter, in addition to economic efficiency, is very important for providing of a minimum operating draft.

This power plant has a longer lifetime of the reactor core, it exceeds more than threefold that achieved earlier. The reactor will use a fuel of the cartridge type with uranium 235 enrichment to 20 percent, which complied with the conditions of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. It needs reloading not once in three years, as in power plants of the previous generation, but once in seven years. In that case the amount of radioactive waste accumulated during reactor operation and maintenance is minimized.

The developers give special attention to an upgrading potential of the reactor, i.e. its capacity and core lifetime can be built up. This will make it possible to use this power plant on advanced atomic vessels, offshore nuclear power plants and desalination complexes and also as part of local energy sources of different designation, such as offshore drilling platforms and plants for surface and underwater oil and gas production and processing.

RITM-200 will be a unified plant for all types of nuclear vessels to substitute the reactors developed earlier at Nizhni Novgorod that served for more than 40 years. For one, this power plant will be installed on an all-purpose (double-draft) 60 MW nuclear icebreaker of a new generation and lead her on a maiden voyage. She has no name yet but the Baltic Shipbuilding Yard company (St. Petersburg) promised to launch it in 2017 anyway.

The forum was covered by around 400 Russian and foreign news correspondents. In their report for Hindu, one of the most competent and authoritative Indian newspapers, they wrote this in particular: "At the exhibition the 'generals' of the nuclear industry did a very good job in dashing the very idea of a decline of the world nuclear industry."

See: N. Ponomarev-Stepnoi et al., "High-Temperature Effects", Science in Russia, No. 3, 2012.--Ed.

** See: V. Makarov, "The Future of Marine Nuclear Power", Science in Russia, No. 4, 20l0.--Ed.

*** See: Zh. Alferov, A. Rodionov, "Naval Might of Russia Was Born Here", Science in Russia, No. 6, 2001; Zh. Alferov et al., "Main Strike Force of Russian Navy", Science in Russia, No. 1, 2006.--Ed.


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