Russia already has a huge fleet of both diesel-powered and even nuclear icebreakers, but it recently penned an order for something the world has never seen before: a massive new 558-foot long, dual-reactor nuclear icebreaker that will be 46 feet longer and at least a dozen feet wider than any other icebreaker in its fleet. Powered by two 60-megawatt compact pressurized water reactors, it will be the world's largest "universal" nuclear icebreaker.
This isn't Russia's first foray into nuclear-powered seagoing vessels of course. The hulking next-gen icebreaker will be built by Rosatomflot, the builder of the rest of Russia's atomic fleet, which already includes about six nuclear powered icebreakers. The country is also planning to build a somewhat controversial floating nuclear power station that will employ the same RTM-200 pressurized water reactors as the icebreaker.
The primary difference here is that this new icebreaker, though bigger and more powerful than other nuclear- and diesel-powered ships in the fleet, will also be able to alter its draught (its depth below the water line) from between 28 to 35 feet via huge ballast tanks. That means it will be able smash its way through ice in the open waters north of the Asian continent as well as navigate shallower rivers throughout Siberia that would take it deep into Russia.
Justifying the $1.1 billion price tag: climate change. And oil. Arctic ice has already melted to the extent that shipping has increased along the lanes that connect Europe to Asia. And Russia has been aggressively trying to prove the extent of its continental shelf into the Arctic, where vast untapped energy stores are thought to be hiding in the currently-inaccessible seafloor. A massive nuclear-powered icebreaker that doesn't require refueling for seven years at a time would certainly go a long way toward helping the Russian state access those Arctic energy reserves.
That is, as long as they don't awaken the giant fighter-jet-flying, nuclear-armed, planet-destroying race of polar bears sent from space to protect them.
Ok, let me get this straight. They need to build a huge ship with a state of the art nuclear power source, so they can go look for a less efficient fossil fuel power source?
Or am I missing something?
The human race is doomed. Doomed I say!
Nukes are by orders of magnitude the safest and cheapest form of energy there is, cheaper today even than fossils.You can't get any more practical than a nuke powered icebreaker impossible to run with diesels.
US military sub nuke plants would be a perfect and right out of the factory factory replacement for filthy crude oil fueled commercial ship power plants.
Unfortunately, not in the USA, as the Obama admin is actively antinuke - a lunacy that will eventually make the US a third world welfare state.
The half wit spent $80B on his 30 to 80 cents a kwh green energy nonsense and $200M on next gen nukes while China Russia and India all have Generation 4 reactors in service this year and next running at less than a cent a kwh. The Russkis even have a Gen IV floating power plant based on their Alpha sub power plant.
The worst part is the US invented the tech for the Gen IV’s , but another Dem Clinton was paid off by Big Oil to shut it down.
Nuclear energy is wonderful, fantastic, WoWzers! As long we leave off the accounting balance sheet the management of nuclear waste cost, plus the physical problems managing it. But yea, it so so cool................ NOT.
The discussion about nuclear energy always boils down to nuclear waste management issues. At that point, it becomes a judgement call based on how each person perceives the risk/reward ratio. People who paint this issue as black or white, whichever side they're on, are deluding themselves.
I wouldn't let those idiot have gasoline or diesel. They can't be trusted with nuclear. It will end badly for the Arctic.
What is it about low information commenters and nuke waste?
Total Nuclear Spent Fuel in the USA is some 65,000 tons, enough to fill a football field 7 yards deep. Compare with just one toxic waste dump, the Canadian Gov't is going to freeze in place 240,000 tons of deadly, carcinogenic Arsenic Trioxide, within a mine 100 meters from Great Slave Lake, and that site will have to be maintained and will remain toxic FOREVER. So 4X the total USA Nuclear Spent Fuel, far more dangerous, trivially contained and just the product of one minor Gold Mine, not fuel that avoided BILLIONS of tons of toxic fossil fuel emissions.
And that arsenic store is nothing compared to the cubic miles of end of life toxic waste from solar plant just dumped in our landfills.
The Russkis been running nuke powered icebreakers for decades without incident. They also have nuke warships and subs just like us.
You're using one mistake to justify another? Suuuper smart.
End-of-life waste from solar cells is not a foregone conclusion. You can recycle that stuff and I believe that, in time, we will. Nuclear waste, on the other hand, can be reprocessed/reused in some cases, but you're always going to be left with a million year problem.
Can't we just skip this whole argument until nuclear fusion arrives? Then we only have to deal with the waste for a few decades/centuries.
And screw you for calling me a low information commenter.
Nuclear power at sea sounds safer to me than having power plants on land. Plenty of cooling and no China Syndrome (well, the real version of that fiction).
As to the conversation, this is exactly a case where someone could develop rail gun technology and shoot spent fuel into space. Ten years tops and no more nuke fuel waste concerns. Nutty to think of shuttles launched that way any time this century, but 10kg pellets? Perhaps.
... oh, and obviously bears that play hockey must be Russian so not likely a threat to their ice breakers or the Earth so long as we let them have ice breaker superiority.
“Ok, let me get this straight. They need to build a huge ship with a state of the art nuclear power source, so they can go look for a less efficient fossil fuel power source?
Or am I missing something?“
If things do not make sense, follow the money… The fossil fuel source that they are looking for, oil, is very, very profitable for both the oil companies (profits) and the government (taxes). For instance, one liter of auto fuel in Germany costs about 1.68€. this converts (at the rate of 1.29 Dollars/Euro) to $8.32 a gallon…in Pennsylvania it is $3.93 today according to gasbuddy.com. The oil companies are already making a substantial profit at the prices in America and in Germany the consumer is being squeezed even more…and it is all done legally.
Nuclear power is great. If you want it to be utilized in a more efficient manner the first thing to do is get the politicians away from it. Let the scientists and engineers run the construction and operation end because they know how it works. Also, let them handle the reaction products…the so called “waste”. This is actually an energy source in itself and has uses if it is handled and processed in the right way.
the only possible explanation for the world's largest icebreaker is a concurrent top secret program to build the world's largest nuclear ice maker.
Nuclear waste is a total red herring . It's a small fraction of the original ore mined . Stick it back the the holes it came out of if you feel you must do something with it .
Nuclear is in a toss up with coal and gas for power generation depending on the specific availability and transportation costs .
It is a compelling source versus oil for marine use . That is a reason why Iran is targeting the merchant marine market for its nuclear expertise .
-- www.CoSy.com --
Using nuclear to get to fossil makes sense in scale in the same way that using $50 of gold to get $500 in silver makes sense.
Industrial nuclear creates concentrations that small nuclear does not. If a nuclear sub spreads waste in diluted amounts as it travels, the net damage is nothing.
In much the same was an arsenic lake would be harmless if spread thin enough.
The problem is getting the concentrations into dilution, since the quantities are unhandleable long before the danger is gone.
Planetary defense by railgun firing as much heavy waste as can be made to fire from planet Earth. Make a shell, load er up. Cosmic bb gun.
On Topic: With our world so unprepared for what is happening globally now, why break off more ice? I don't care if it's to rescue a whale or not. I don't care if it's to rescue idiot humans. I don't care if it saves diesel. I don't care at all if we want to make shipping nuke powered provided we regulate(yeah, right) but quit promoting the wreckage of your kid's yard. I've been impressed with their designs and their use values for years too, but nuff's enough.
LOL why break off more ice? Human Life is worthless? Clueless! The Sun is melting ice, not ships.
92.3% of everything you own, build and buy was on a ship. Ships are the most efficient means of transportation bar none. Commerical Ships use about 5.3% of the worlds oil.
Nucular waste and Solar panel manufacturing by-products are huge problems. The safest most effective near-fusion system is LTFR. It is now the same cost as coal to operate. Singapore and India have started the conversion.
If LTFR was put onto Commercial Ships, it would be safe, cost-effective, and reduce global oil use. If the shipping ports adopted LTFR, the savings would be huge.
New LTFR models fit in 2 ocean containers. It is the Uranium waste management lobby that stops the development in the US. There is so much money in uranium waste management that uranium power plants can be built for free.
OK Clay, I have to admit, that was a clever ending.
Oh, yeah. @ Silver_T; I'm real glad that our heavy breakers are down. So you don't think the current use of carving many miles of relatively solid pack ice at currently attainable depths supplements a really significant problem right now? Are you insane on that one? You know about the increase in solar energies there, right? So chopping a huge chunk of ice on top of it just seems stupid of me when we could be doing something more efficiently and on a larger scale, that wouldn't be necessarily also classified as a warcraft insertion device. Just me.