The Largest Security-Cleared Career Network for Defense and Intelligence Jobs - JOIN NOW


IPPE imeni A.I.Leypunsky - Submarine Reactors

Joint Stock Company State Scientific Center of the Russian Federation - 
Institute for Physics and Power Engineering named after A.I.Leypunsky

At the initiative of A.I.Leipunsky work on the creation of nuclear transport facilities were begun in Laboratory "B" back in 1949. On September 9, 1952 I.V. Stalin signed Decree of the Council of Ministers of the USSR on the creation of a nuclear submarine. The main work on the nuclear power plant (NPP) along with the Kurchatov Institute was entrusted to Laboratory "B". By a resolution of the Council of Ministers, Laboratory B was entrusted with the implementation of theoretical and theoretical work, the development of fuel rods, the construction and testing of an experimental submarine reactor.

General management of research and design work was assigned to PSU under the USSR Council of Ministers (B.L. Vannikov, A.P. Zavenyagin, I.V. Kurchatov), ??and the construction and development of ship parts and weapons - to the Ministry of Shipbuilding Industry (V.A. Malyshev, B.G. Chilikin). A.P.Aleksandrov was appointed as the supervisor of the work on the creation of an integrated nuclear power plant (NPP), chief designer of nuclear power plants - N.A. Dollezhal, chief designer of the boat - V.N. Peregudov. To guide the work and consider scientific and design issues related to the construction of a submarine, Section 8 was organized at the Scientific and Technical Council of PSU, headed by V.A. Malyshev. The basic work on nuclear power plants along with the Kurchatov Institute was entrusted to Laboratory "B", and its director D.I. Blokhintsev was appointed deputy scientific adviser. By a resolution of the Council of Ministers, Laboratory B was entrusted with the implementation of theoretical and theoretical work, the development of fuel rods, the construction and testing of an experimental submarine reactor. The first and most important task was to choose the type of reactor as the main source of energy, as well as the overall appearance of the power plant. At first, these were graphite and beryllium moderator reactors with heat-releasing pipes carrying pressure similar in type to the First NPP under construction at that time. Somewhat later, installations arose in which the moderator was heavy water. And only then (and at that rate it was one month!) Did the tank water-water reactor appear. In October 1952, Blokhintsev already reported on the first preliminary calculations carried out at Laboratory “B” and proposed two options for discussion: “a) A technological scheme based on an AM reactor with superheating of the steam inside the reactor, developed in the department of commerce. A.K. Krasin and b) Schemes using metal cooling developed in the department of Comrade A.I.Leipunsky” Thus, from the very beginning in Laboratory “B” two versions of nuclear power plants for submarines were considered: with a water coolant and a lead-bismuth liquid metal coolant.

The choice of the eutectic lead-bismuth alloy as a coolant for nuclear reactors was made by A.I. Leypunsky even before the start of the deployment of work in the USSR on nuclear submarines. At the initiative of A.I. Leipunsky work on the creation of nuclear transport facilities were begun in Laboratory "V" back in 1949. Chief designer of the nuclear power plant N.A. Dollezhal recalled: “This option (lead-bismuth alloy as a coolant for nuclear reactors) was especially supported by D.I. Blokhintsev, at that time director of Laboratory “B” in Obninsk, where academician Alexander Ilyich Leipunsky worked on the use of fast neutron technology. His idea was that it was possible to create a nuclear power plant for a submarine in the reactor of which a liquid metal (for example, an alloy of lead and bismuth) would be used as a coolant, and it could be heated to a sufficiently high temperature without creating pressure. A.I. Leipunsky was an outstanding scientist, and there was no reason to doubt the seriousness of his proposals. ”

By this time, it was known that in the United States work was underway on two types of installations: reactors using thermal neutrons with water under pressure and reactors using intermediate neutrons with a sodium coolant. Therefore, work on the creation of power plants for nuclear submarines was deployed in two directions: water-cooled reactors and reactors with a liquid metal coolant.

A.I.Leipunsky was appointed the scientific supervisor of the work on the creation of reactors with a liquid metal coolant, and after his death in 1972 - B.F. Gromov. The projects of serial reactor installations for submarines were developed by OKB Gidropress (Podolsk) and OKBM (Nizhny Novgorod), and the projects of the ships themselves were developed by the Malachite St. Petersburg Marine Engineering Bureau (SPMBM).

Unlike the Americans, A.I. Leipunsky proposed and justified the eutectic lead-bismuth alloy as a heat carrier, despite its worse thermophysical properties compared to sodium. Subsequent experience in the development of these competing areas confirmed the correctness of the choice made by him. (After several accidents at the ground prototype stand and an experimental submarine, work in this area in the USA was stopped.)

One of the first problems arose at the very beginning of work when substantiating the neutron-physical characteristics of a reactor with an intermediate neutron spectrum that was formed in the core due to the large neutron leakage due to the small size of the reactor and the use of a beryllium moderator. A.I. Leipunsky confronted V.A. Kuznetsov's task is to create a critical assembly, on which it would be possible to test the methods and constants for calculating the intermediate reactor. Such a critical assembly was created in 1954. But on March 11, 1954, during the gain of the critical mass, there was an acceleration of the instant neutron reactor. A.I. Leipunsky and all the physicists employed in the experiment were urgently hospitalized in Moscow.

The problem could be solved only if there were large-scale experimental stands where equipment would be worked out under conditions close to full-scale ones. Therefore, in 1953, on the basis of Laboratory “V” , the construction of full-scale prototypes of nuclear power plants with water cooling (stand 27 / VM) and liquid metal cooling (stand 27 / VT) were launched, which were commissioned in 1956 and 1959, respectively. These stands were reactor and turbine compartments of nuclear submarines. For a long time, they became the main experimental base of the IPPE and the Kurchatov Institute for testing new types of reactors, as well as the base of the Obninsk training center of the Navy for training submarine crews.

The first Soviet cruising nuclear submarine K-27 (project 645) with a liquid metal cooled nuclear power plant successfully passed state tests in 1963. In 1964, she made a long voyage to the equatorial Atlantic, during which (for the first time in the Soviet Navy) she traveled 12,278 miles in 1240 hours (51 days) without ascending to the surface. From Laboratory “B”, one of the creators of the nuclear power plant, the chief engineer of stand 27 / VT K.I.Karih, participated in this unique trip.

The most important element of the steam generating installation of the new boat was a lead-bismuth coolant reactor developed under the scientific supervision of the IPPE. The new reactor with a liquid metal coolant made it possible to reduce the displacement, the diameter of the robust hull and the length of the submarine, and increase the speed of the underwater course. A special place in the development of reactors with lead-bismuth coolant was occupied by the problem of the technology of this coolant. This phrase refers to methods of monitoring and maintaining the required quality of the coolant and the purity of the primary circuit during the operation of the reactor installation.

The first K-64 cruiser of a new type in December 1971 was put into trial operation. The small size of the project 705 submarines, a significant range of immersion depths, and high full speed speeds allowed it to maneuver at maximum speed, impossible for all other types of submarines, and even move away from anti-submarine torpedoes. The ships of this project for their speed and maneuverability were listed in the Guinness Book of Records.

Join the mailing list

Page last modified: 11-08-2019 18:52:11 ZULU