After an initial neutron flux, the reactor reached its minimum controlled level of chain reaction and produced power Friday evening.
“The physical launch of the reactor unit on the starboard side of the floating power plant Akademik Lomonosov happened on Friday. The reactor united reached the minimum controlled power level at 17.58 Moscow time,” a spokesperson for Rosatom told Ria Novosti.
Comprehensive tests of the reactor were expected to start within a few days, RBC reported on Friday. Testing will continue until the first half of 2019, when the floating nuclear power plant will be towed from its current location at the Atomflot-base north of Murmansk (northwest) where the plant is moored next to Russia’s fleet of nuclear powered icebreakers and service vessels.
Akademik Lomonosov has two reactors, and the other will also be test-started in the nearest future.
To be towed to destination next year
Loading of the uranium fuel elements to the two on-board reactors started in late July after safety procedures were approved by Rostekhnadzor, Russia’s nuclear watchdog agency.
Originally, plans were to fuel the reactors at the shipyard in St. Petersburg where Akademik Lomonosov was built, but Rosatom agreed with Norway’s Foreign Ministry last year to wait with the reactor testing until after the plant had been towed around the coast of Norway. The Norwegians were afraid of potential radioactive leaks inside its coastal waters if problems occurred while the plant was being towed.
The power plant was towed from St. Petersburg to Murmansk in May.
The KLT-40S reactors on-board Akademik Lomonosov are similar in design to the reactors powering the nuclear-powered icebreakers.
After reactor testing, the plan is to tow the plant across the Barents Sea and further east along the Northern Sea Route to the port of Pevek, on the Chukotka Peninsula in the east Arctic, next spring.
The two KLT-40S reactor units can generate up to 70 MW of electricity additional to providing thermal heating to the town of Pevek.
Related stories from around the North:
China: China opens bids for its first nuclear-powered icebreaker, The Independent Barents Observer
Greenland: Greenland ice holds Cold War peril, Deutsche Welle’s Iceblogger
Norway: Rising nuclear activity in Arctic Europe prompts Norway to update disaster plans, The Independent Barents Observer
Russia: Last three reactor compartments from Cold War subs to be pulled from Russia’s waters next year, The Independent Barents Observer
Sweden: Environmentalists praise ruling on nuclear waste site in Sweden, Radio Sweden