Monday, April 21, 2008

The Future of Water-Cooled Graphite Reactors?

My poll about the merits of various reactor designs ended yesterday, and I was intrigued by the results. I had included a number of disreputable designs, including water-cooled and sodium-cooled graphite reactors. I suspect that whoever it was who voted for the RBMK was trying to be facetious, but it turns out that some people in Russia are actually still gunning for this type of reactor.

The MKER-1500 Proposal
Basically, the proposed MKER-1500 is a variant of the RBMK-1500 with the addition of significant safety improvements. The most noticeable of these is the inclusion of an actual containment building. Not only does this contain the massive RBMK reactor, but also a passive emergency cooling system (#2 on the above illustration.) The proposal argues that the design includes all modern safety features and is more economical with fuel than LWRs, while also offering the ability to produce radioisotopes for additional income. The authors suggested that this design be considered for the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant. They don't seem to have won that argument, however, as Rosenergoatom appears set to start building four new VVER reactors there starting in 2013.

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