The world's first nuclear power plant

Obninsk nuclear power plant

On June 27, 1954, in the village of Obninskoye, Kaluga Region, the AI ​​Leipunsky Institute for Physics and Power Engineering (Laboratory "V") launched the world's first nuclear power plant equipped with one uranium-graphite channel reactor with a water coolant AM-1 ("Peaceful atom") with a capacity of 5 MW. From this date the countdown of the history of atomic energy began.

During the Second World War, the Soviet Union began to work on the creation of nuclear weapons, which was headed by a physicist, academician I. V. Kurchatov. In 1943, Kurchatov established a research center in Moscow - Laboratory No. 2 - later transformed into the Institute of Atomic Energy. In 1948 a plutonium plant with several industrial reactors was built, and in August 1949 the first Soviet atomic bomb was tested.

The proposal to create the AM reactor of the future nuclear power plant was first made on November 29, 1949 at a meeting of the scientific leader of the atomic project I.V. Kurchatov, director of the Institute of Physical Problems A.P. Alexandrov, Director of the Research Institute Himash N.A. Dollezhal and the scientific secretary of the Scientific and Technical Council of the industry B.S. Pozdnyakov. The meeting recommended to include in the CCP R&D plan for 1950 "a project of a reactor on enriched uranium with small dimensions only for power purposes with a total heat release capacity of 300 units, an effective power of about 50 units" with graphite and water coolant. At the same time, instructions were given to urgently carry out physical calculations and experimental research on this reactor. I.V. Kurchatov and A.P. Zavenyagin explained the choice of the AM reactor for the priority construction by the fact that "it can be more than in other units, the experience of ordinary boiler room practice is used: the general relative simplicity of the unit makes construction easier and cheaper."

During this period, options for using power reactors are being discussed at different levels. After the production of enriched uranium was organized and mastered on an industrial scale, an active discussion of the problems and directions of creating power nuclear reactors for transport applications and the production of electricity and heat began. On behalf of Kurchatov, Russian physicists E. L. Feinberg and N. A. Dollezhal began to develop a reactor design for a nuclear power plant.

On May 16, 1950, by a decree of the Council of Ministers of the USSR, the construction of three experimental reactors was determined - water-cooled uranium-graphite, gas-cooled uranium-graphite and gas-cooled or liquid metal-cooled uranium-beryllium. According to the original plan, all of them in turn had to work on a single steam turbine and a 5000 kW generator.

The construction of the nuclear power plant was supervised by the Obninsk Physics and Energy Laboratory. During the construction, the design of an industrial reactor was taken as a basis, but instead of uranium rods, uranium heat-removing elements, the so-called fuel elements, were provided. The difference between them was that the water flowed around the rod outside, and the fuel element was a double-walled tube. Enriched uranium was located between the walls, and water flowed through the inner channel. Scientific calculations have shown that with this design it is much easier to heat it to the desired temperature. The material of the heat-dissipating elements had to have strength, anti-corrosion resistance and should not change its properties under prolonged exposure to radiation. At the first nuclear power plant, the control system for the processes occurring in the reactor was carefully thought out. For this, devices were created for automatic and manual remote control of control rods, for emergency shutdown of the reactor, and devices for replacing fuel elements.

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