Russia is working on lifetime cores of naval reactors

According to the 2017 Annual Report of the Afrikantov Design Bureau (OKBM), it is working on developing life-time cores for Russia's nuclear submarines. Below is a translated excerpt from a section of the report that describes these projects (p. 84). Clarifying comments are in square brackets.


  1. [The design bureau] completed development, fabrication and inter-departmental testing of two transport reactor active zones - 1) an optimized core for a submarine of the 4th generation with refueling at the time of medium repair of the ship and 2) a new core, unique in the domestic history, with a lifetime resource for the entire life cycle of the ship. Successful operation of the 4th generation cores [on submarines that are already in service] and the "3+" campaign of the KV-1 stand [at NITI in Sosnovyy Bor] confirms the correctness of design decisions on which new projects of shipboard active zones are based;

  2. [The design bureau] continued work on zirconium active zones for operating nuclear icebreakers 14-10-3MP [Arktika and Sibir Project 22220 icebreakers]. Taking into account the achieved fuel characteristics with safety and ecological compatibility, these products are considered as a unique achievement of reactor technology. Zones produce the assigned energy resource without depressurization, that is, the principle of "zero failure" is implemented;

  3. Support has been provided for the production of active zones 14-15-1 for universal nuclear icebreakers [i.e. Project 22220] that are currently under construction. [14-15-1 was described earlier as a core with "intermetallic fuel" and is believed to be HEU-based.] Acceptance tests of these zones were completed in 2016 and they are currently in serial production. These zones have more than twice the energy resource as those of the existing icebreakers and will ensure the operation of the icebreaker for about 10 years without refueling;

  4. [The design bureau] carried out work on the draft project of a low-power nuclear power plant ["АС ММ" in Russian] on the basis of the RITM-200 reactor. This work is interesting first of all because of the special condition - a naval reactor would be operating on land. [The design bureau completed] preliminary design of a variant of an active zone that is similar to the 14-15-1 core of the universal icebreaker ["УАЛ" in Russian], but with an increased height of the fuel part of fuel elements and that uses a cermet fuel, which has no analogues to date on energy-resource characteristics. [Cermet fuel was described earlier as LEU fuel developed for the 14-15-2 cores.] If a decision is taken to implement the project, the forthcoming work will allow the developers of the active zones to work on new, interesting and so far undeveloped issues of designing active zones with tall fuel assemblies.