30.07.2020

Twins of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant

ChNPP twin stations with RBMK type reactor

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The RBMK-1000 reactor is a heterogeneous channel thermal neutron reactor with an electric power of 1000 MW, in which graphite is used as a moderator and water is used as a coolant.


The concept of powerful channel-type reactors with graphite moderator and boiling coolant was developed in the early 60s of the XX century.  By this time, the USSR already had experience in creating and operating uranium-graphite reactors with a water coolant (Obninsk, Beloyarsk, Bilibinsk, Siberian NPP).


A fundamental feature of the design of channel reactors was the absence of a special robust casing typical of VVER-type reactors (pressurized water-cooled power reactor). In turn, this moment made it possible to create and launch an RBMK reactor much faster than VVER.  In addition, at RBMK reactors, it is possible to reload nuclear fuel without stopping them, which makes it possible to increase the power utilization factor.  To reload fuel at VVER reactors, the unit had to be completely shut down, which led to a loss of power.  In total, 17 power units with RBMKs were commissioned.  The payback period for second-generation serial units was 4-5 years.
The N.A. Dollezhal Scientific Research and Design Institute of Power Engineering (NIKIET) played the role of the chief designer of the reactor plant.  The main developer of this type of reactors was Academician N. Dollezhal. Scientific director of the project from the Institute of Atomic Energy (IAE) named after N.A.  I. V. Kurchatov, the well-known academician Aleksandrov A.P.


Due to the fact that the RBMK type reactors had quite a lot of advantages, they began to literally stamp it across the territory of the former USSR.  In addition to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, there are four more nuclear power plants in the world with this type of reactor.  Of all five, three nuclear power plants are in operation today.
Let's take a closer look at twins of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant that were built at that time and which ones have survived to our time.
In total, five nuclear power plants with operating RBMK reactors were created in the USSR: 

 

  • Leningrad NPP - start of construction 1967.  (4 power units 1000 MW each)
  • Kursk NPP - start of construction 1971.  (4 power units 1000 MW each)
  • Chernobyl nuclear power plant - start of construction 1971.  (4 power units 1000 MW each)
  • Ignalina NPP - start of construction 1975.  (2 power units of 1300 MW each)
  • Smolensk NPP - start of construction 1975.  (4 power units 1000 MW each)

As of today, there are three nuclear power plants operating on the territory of the former USSR, namely: Kursk, Leningrad and Smolensk nuclear power plants.


It is important to note that these three nuclear power plants are the twins of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, not only in the type and power of the reactor, but also in appearance.
 

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