OKB Gidropress - Naval Reactors
Since 1952 work on development of heavy liquid metal reactor plants with lead-bismuth coolant for nuclear submarines has been performed in OKB “GIDROPRESS” Gidropress [English = Hydropress]. At the end of 1955, work began on the technical design of a steam generating unit (PPU) with liquid-metal coolant lead-bismuth atomic submarine (NPS) of project 645. The scientific management of the development was carried out by A.I. Leipunsky. Subsequent stages of the development, creation and operation of polyurethane foam and the entire submarine became one of the main works of OKB Gidropress. This installation embodied many years of experience in creating and operating physical and loop stands, physical assemblies, and performing a large amount of research, experimental, computational and design work. During the development of the technical design of the facility PPU of facility 645, the already developed units were adjusted based on the results of bench testing of equipment and manufacturing experience of the facility 27/VT.
The first reactor plant which ensured a successful solution of the task on development of a nuclear steam supply system (NSSS) for nuclear submarines was a 27/VT rig constructed in Obninsk at the industrial site of the Institute of Physics and Power Engineering in 1958. The NSSS documentation was developed by specialists of OKB “GIDROPRESS” and the NSSS equipment was manufactured by Podolsk Machine Building Plant named after Ordzhonikidze. The 27/VT rig is a ground-based submarine prototype of design 627/VT which is a full-scale half of the nuclear submarine board including reactor, steam generator, pumps, primary and secondary pipelines, turbine plant, control system and other service systems.
The 27/VT rig was constructed for complete engineering development of each equipment and system of NSSS, refinement of reactor plant operational conditions and control as well as for submarine crew training. For the first time in the world a liquid metal reactor plant of 17500 HP power was installed in a small area and provided with high secondary steam parameters (pressure 42 kg/cm2, temperature 440°C) and primary pressure about 20 kg/cm2.
Results of experiments obtained at the 27/VT rig allowed OKB “GIDROPRESS” to develop a liquid metal cooled NSSS for nuclear submarine of design 645. In 1957, the technical design of PPU nuclear submarine of Project 645 was approved. It was a two-reactor polyurethane reactor with intermediate neutron reactors with a thermal capacity of 73 MW each reactor with lead-bismuth liquid metal coolant in the primary circuit at a low pressure of 10-12 atmospheres.
At the end of 1958, the technical design of the V-2 reactor was completed. The V-2 reactor (VVER-70) had a thermal power of 265 MW. In 1959, at the Northern Machine-Building Enterprise (former plant No. 402 of the Ministry of Industry and Trade), in the workshop No. 42, the laying of the K-27 nuclear submarine of project 645, factory number 601, took place. In 1959, construction began on the first NPVP unit, with the first VVER-1 reactor installation, developed by OKB Gidropress, including the installation of basic equipment by organizations, and was completed in 1963. On April 1, 1962, the K-27 nuclear submarine of Project 645 was withdrawn from Workshop No. 42 and launched solemnly into the water.
In 1963 the nuclear submarine of design 645 (nuclear submarine K-27) was commissioned. In 1964 and 1965 nuclear submarine K-27 performed two autonomous voyages of 51 and 52 days without emersion which were the record ones for the Soviet Navy submarines.
In the 1960s-1970s the gained experience allowed OKB “GIDROPRESS” together with IPPE, CNII KM “Prometey”, Podolsk Machine Building Plant named after OrdzhoniKidze and other enterprises to develop and manufacture a more advanced modular NSSS BM-40/A for the second generation of liquid metal cooled submarines.
In October 1962, the Gidropress design bureau began the development of a technical design for the BM-40 / A nuclear steam generating unit for the nuclear submarine of project 705.
In April 1963, the Gidropress design bureau received the technical task for the development of an experimental fast reactor with sodium coolant in the primary circuit [the reactor was not for naval propulsion, but Sodium had been used as a coolant in an American submarine reactor on the USS Seawolf]. The task was approved by the scientific director of the problem and the Institute of Physics and Energy A.I. Leipunsky. It was a new work in content for OKB Gidropress. In 1964, OKB Gidropress was assigned the responsibility of the Chief Designer of the reactor and equipment of the first and second circuits of the BOR-60 installation. The BOR-60 reactor was designed to justify and experimentally verify the main technical and technological solutions that determine the parameters of promising nuclear power plants with fast neutron reactors. In 1967, installation work began on the BOR-60 installation at the NIIAR (Melekess, later - Dimitrovgrad). In 1968, the physical launch of the BOR-60 installation took place. The construction of this facility was a significant stage in the development of atomic science and technology in the country.
The team received a high rating for the development of a compact, silent, high-power reactor plant for nuclear submarine. They invented unique channels for supraining with the use of liquid metal. On the basis of this, a new reactor without the dangerous gamma radiation of BM-40A was turned out. The first nuclear submarine of design 705K equipped with NSSS BM-40/A was commissioned by the Navy in December 1977. In the beginning of 80s two NSSS BM-40/A for the nuclear submarine series of design 705K and 9 steam generators MP-7M for three production nuclear submarines of design 705 were manufactured and commissioned.
Thus, in the beginning of 80s the Navy included six most high-speed and maneuvering nuclear submarines of designs 705K and 705 equipped with NSSS BM-40/A and OK-550 which were known abroad as “Alpha” entered into the Guinness Book of Records due to their high-speed parameters. Within the frame of conversion of a unique Russian reactor technology applied to nuclear submarines the small-power reactor plants of SVBR-type (SVBR stands for the Russian acronym of a lead-bismuth fast reactor) were developed in OKB “GIDROPRESS” for nuclear power sources of civilian use.
The leadership of the State praised the successes achieved. Work on the creation of nuclear submarines of projects 705 and 705k was awarded the Lenin and State Prizes. On December 16, 1981, by Decrees of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, more than 2,000 state awards were determined for those who created unique ships. OKB GIDROPRESS was awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Labor. The chief-chief designer of the OKB GIDROPRESS V.V.Stekolnikov was awarded the title Hero of Socialist Labor.
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