Naval Nuclear Propulsion
The largest milestone in the history of the CCGT-Minsredmash-Minatom-Rosatom was the creation of a nuclear power plant (NPP) for the first nuclear submarine in the USSR. To a decisive extent, this was the birth of the country's underwater and then surface nuclear fleets.
The ideas of using nuclear energy unprecedented in concentration, not only for destructive purposes, appeared among Soviet scientists and engineers already during the creation of atomic weapons. The development, construction and operation of the first industrial reactors, the world's first nuclear power plant, confirmed the feasibility of the practical implementation of these ideas. The intention to use nuclear energy sources in the fleet, primarily underwater, made it possible to solve the problems of creating an engine capable of providing a ship with fundamentally new qualities. Time has shown that, in combination with new types of weapons, nuclear energy fundamentally changed the strategic, tactical and technical capabilities of the submarine fleet, its role in the oceans, which led to a significant adjustment to the military doctrines of leading countries.
As in the development of nuclear weapons, in the creation of the first nuclear submarine, the Soviet Union had to catch up with the United States, ahead of the USSR in the construction and commissioning of its first Nautilus nuclear submarine for 4-5 years, to catch up on its own, deciding, in the absence of analogues, a lot of scientific and engineering problems in the new field of reactor engineering.
Formally, work on the creation of the first nuclear submarine began in the country on September 9, 1952, with Decree No. 4098-1616 of the USSR Council of Ministers on the design and construction of facility No. 627. However, this decision was preceded by several years of study of various options for nuclear power plants for use at sea. They were initiated by our outstanding scientists and designers who worked on the implementation of the Atomic Project of the USSR.
So, already in April 1946, i.e. six months after the formation of PSU, it receives a note from the President of the USSR Academy of Sciences S.I. Vavilova with proposals for the deployment of research on the use of nuclear energy in various fields of science and technology. A draft government decree prepared by the Academy of Sciences and PSU is presented to S.I. Vavilov, I.V. Kurchatov, B.L. Vannikov and M.G. Pervukhin to the Special Committee under the Council of Ministers of the USSR. This project already provides for the study of "... ways to use nuclear reactions for power plants." They are planned to be entrusted to the Institute of Chemical Physics and Laboratories No. 2 and No. 3 of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR with the assistance of CCTI and VTI. On December 13, 1946, a corresponding order of the Council of Ministers of the USSR was issued.
More substantively, the questions “... using the heat of nuclear reactions in power plants” were considered by the NTS CCGT on March 24, 1947 with the participation of I.V. Kurchatova, N.N. Semenova, A.P. Zavenyagina, V.A. Malysheva et al. It was decided to begin research and design work on nuclear power plants in relation to ships, aircraft, and power plants. A certain role was played by the fact that ships were included in this list, and reports appeared in the foreign press about the beginning of such work on submarines and aircraft carriers in the United States.
Nevertheless, the priority task of the Special Committee and the nuclear industry that began to be created before the end of the 1940s was the creation of nuclear weapons. Therefore, the study of power plants was carried out by small scientific and engineering groups. Some support for these works was the research plan approved by the USSR Council of Ministers for 1948, which envisaged the development of preliminary design tasks for several types of relatively large thermal power (300-500 MW) enriched uranium reactors with various neutron moderators and coolants.
As for ship installations, on the initiative of I.V. Kurchatov NTS PSU in November 1949 considers and supports the ideas of S.M. Feinberg (LIP AN SSSR) on the possibilities of creating "... an atomic engine for ships (in relation to a submarine) in three versions (water, gas and metal cooling), engine power of 10,000 kW on the shaft." In 1950-1951 at the Institute of Physics of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR Aleksandrova is exploring the possibility of placing (primarily by weight and size characteristics) on a submarine of a nuclear dual-circuit plant with a helium-cooled reactor with a thermal power of 40 MW with a graphite moderator. At NIIkhimmash - the developer of the country's first industrial reactors "A" and "AI" - under the leadership of N. A. Dollezhal design the installation on the basis of the types of devices tested in them - a channel with a water coolant and a graphite moderator with a thermal power of 150 MW (turbine power - 25 MW).
Later, already in 1952, on the basis of these studies, together with the LIP of the USSR Academy of Sciences, a design assignment was issued for a propeller-driven power plant with two reactors with a thermal capacity of 65 MW each. At the same time, in the LIP of the USSR Academy of Sciences in the sectors of S.M. Feinberg and V.I. Merkina is working on an installation with two water-cooled reactors of the same thermal power. with two reactors with a thermal capacity of 65 MW each. At the same time, in the LIP of the USSR Academy of Sciences in the sectors of S.M. Feinberg and V.I. Merkina is working on an installation with two water-cooled reactors of the same thermal power. with two reactors with a thermal capacity of 65 MW each. At the same time, in the LIP of the USSR Academy of Sciences in the sectors of S.M. Feinberg and V.I. Merkina is working on an installation with two water-cooled reactors of the same thermal power.
Intensive studies of the power plant for submarines were conducted by A.I. Leipunsky group of employees in Laboratory "B" together with the designers of OKB Gidropress, headed by B.M. Sholkovich. They developed the idea of using an intermediate neutron reactor with a lead-bismuth coolant, which made it possible to count on a sharp decrease in pressure in the first circuit and high parameters of the vapor in the second. These ideas were implemented in the nuclear power plant of the atomic submarine of Project 645, built 5 years after the first nuclear submarine.
The other, led by D.I. Blokhintsev, a group of Laboratory B employees worked on a water-cooled thermal neutron reactor, but with a beryllium moderator. It was subsequently used (under the BM index) along with the design of a water-water reactor (VM index) at the stages of the preliminary design of nuclear power plants of the first nuclear submarine.
Extensive search work on power plants made it possible to raise the question of the beginning of the design of a nuclear submarine. In 1951 A.P. Alexandrov and N.A. Dollezhal sent appropriate proposals to the high command of the Navy, but did not find support. The situation can be changed with the help of V.A. Malysheva (deputy chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR, Minister of the shipbuilding industry), and after another appeal by I.V. Kurchatova A.P. Alexandrova and N.A. Dollezhal to the government (1952) is prepared and signed by I.V. Stalin referred to the Resolution of the Council of Ministers of the USSR. His exit intensified search research and design work, determining their ultimate goal, and created the organizational basis for the necessary cooperation of project participants in both their fields of activity and the timing of work. Characteristically that PSU has not only responsibility for resolving all issues related to the creation and testing of nuclear power plants, but also the general management of research and design work on facility No. 627, i.e. first submarine.
At the NTS PSU a special section was formed No. 8, headed by V.A. Malyshev. A.P. is appointed the scientific supervisor of the work on "... the implementation of the facility No. 627" Alexandrov, his deputy for "... nuclear calculations and research" - D.I. Blokhintsev, chief designer of "... an integrated power plant" - N.A. Dollezhal, chief designer of the facility No. 627 - V.N. Peregudov. It is recognized as necessary "... for the implementation of design, experimental and research work on the creation of an integrated power plant for facility No. 627 ”to organize, on the basis of the divisions of the NIIkhimmash, a special Research Institute No. 8 (NII-8), whose director N.A. Dolezhal. A fundamental decision is made on the construction and testing of “... an experimental power unit” (ie, a bench nuclear power plant) at Laboratory “B”.
One of the features of the government decree was that it did not at all indicate the interests of the Navy and its participation in the work. This unusual situation continued until the release of the technical draft of the nuclear submarine, when, before its approval in the government, the Navy experts were involved in the consideration of the draft. According to their comments, the ship's design has undergone significant adjustments.
The organization of design work in the early stages was also unconventional. On the one hand, the idea of creating a nuclear submarine was put forward and aggressively “made its way through” by reactor specialists who were far from occupational problems from shipbuilding, and on the other hand, the creators of submarines actually began to get acquainted with the capabilities of nuclear reactors and the features of their application only after the government decree , which the design of the submarine was entrusted to SKB-143 of the Ministry of Industry Therefore, under the guidance of V.N. Peregudova and F.F. Polushkina (the head of the department of the Ministry of Industry and Industry) was formed (mainly from SKB-143 employees) a design team to carry out initial studies on the boat. Most of this group worked at NIIkhimmash (NII-8 was there for a long time), together with the designers of the reactor installation and the LIPAN of the USSR. In September-October 1952, based on an analysis of previously developed studies and the specified characteristics of the ship, V.N. Peregudov, N.A. Dolezhal and G.A. Hasanov (head of SKBK-189 - developer of steam generators) with the active participation of I.V. Kurchatova and A.P. Aleksandrov, the basic initial data necessary for the design of a nuclear power plant were determined - power, duration and operating modes, conditions of placement on a submarine, weight and size limitations, etc.
Already the first joint studies with submarine designers have shown the futility of using a uranium-graphite reactor in a boat because of its excessively large mass and size characteristics. Instead, at the suggestion of the Laboratory “B” specialists, the development of a variant of the installation with the already mentioned “BM” reactor was started. Thus, the pre-draft design of a nuclear power plant is presented with two reactor options - “VM” and “BM”. The projects of the nuclear power plant and the nuclear submarine itself were developed by the employees of NII-8, LIP of the USSR Academy of Sciences, SKB-143 and SKBK-189 and were released in January 1953 at the NIIkhimmash. Immediately, the pre-draft design of the nuclear power plant in both versions was considered by section 8 of the NTS of the CCGT unit, which approved the fundamental principles of the nuclear power plant and instructed to begin the development of outline designs for the installation not only for nuclear submarines, but also for the ground test bench.
When carrying out pre-draft studies, a number of major scientific and engineering problems were identified, without the solution of which the practical implementation of the idea of creating a reactor installation as the basis for the energy of a submarine is impossible. Such problems in those years were, for example, the selection and justification of the neutron-physical and thermal characteristics of the first water-water reactor in our country, the development of methods and means of monitoring the processes occurring in it and in the installation, how to control them, and the formation taking into account ship specifics rational and effective radiation protection (its share in the total mass of the reactor installation reached 60-70%), the organization of control over the radiation situation on the ship, ensuring comfortable working conditions for the crew, etc.
To solve these problems under the guidance of A.P. Alexandrova and N.A. Dollezhal launched large-scale research and development work. The scientific institutions of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, institutes and design bureaus of various ministries and departments: Laboratory "V", NII-9, SKBK- were involved in their implementation, as well as in the development of equipment and systems for nuclear power plants (in addition to specialists from the LIP of the USSR Academy of Sciences and NII-8). 189, Design Bureau of the Kirov Plant, Central Research Institute-45, Central Research Institute-48, VIAM, OKB-12, Central Design Bureau GM, PKB-12, Research Institute "Projectstalkonstruktsiya", FHI im. Karpova et al. In all the "ship" issues, the SKB-143 employees rendered great help to the developers of the nuclear power plant. While working on a project of a fundamentally new submarine (in the USA, they adapted a conventional submarine design for the Nautilus.
In July 1954, for the first time, military sailors were involved in the creation of a nuclear submarine and its power plant. Consideration by the Navy experts of the technical design of the boat led to a review of the combat mission of the ship and the composition of its armament, but had little effect on the projects of the nuclear power plant and its components.
It would be wrong to imagine the processes of the creation and subsequent operation of it, and then the lead and serial nuclear submarines (in all, 55 nuclear submarines of this type were built) as a chain of continuous success. There were many problems along this path, primarily related to a fundamentally new energy sector, the accumulation of experience in operating nuclear submarines, and the formation of new industries - nuclear engineering and nuclear shipbuilding.
In the early 1960s, a very difficult situation developed in the Northern Fleet. Thanks to the huge production, the Northern Fleet had already received several nuclear multipurpose (Project 627) and strategic (Project 658) submarines, unthinkable by today's standards, by the efforts of industry, but almost all of them had faulty nuclear steam generating installations. Commander of the Northern Fleet, Admiral A.T.Chabanenko in a harsh form reported to the government about the non-combat capability of the ships supplied to him. Under these conditions, the chief designer often faced tests that required not so much professionalism as courage and strength of character.
To confirm the combat effectiveness of our ships, the so-called "admiral's exit" was organized. On one of the boats of the 658 project, a commission headed by the head of the shipbuilding department, Admiral Kozmin, and the head of the submarine department of this department, Admiral Subbotin, went to sea. Everything went well in the early days and then the heat exchanger of the reactor on one side leaked. We “heroically” moved on until the heat exchanger on the other side leaked. They returned under powerful rowing electric motors, and only thanks to the good weather, the boat was not washed ashore in Norway.
Two of the problems in the initial period of nuclear submarine operation were the short duration of the reactor core campaign and the low efficiency of steam generators due to loss of tightness on their tube surfaces. The severity of these problems was determined, in particular, by the fact that they directly affected the combat effectiveness of the nuclear submarine fleet. Therefore, the research, development and technological work begun by organizations of the Ministry of Environment in cooperation with institutions of other departments during the design of nuclear power plants did not stop with the commissioning of the first nuclear submarine.
They were developed with increasing depth of previously begun research, with the coverage of new directions. So, the multifaceted work in physics, thermal hydraulics, strength, materials science, metallurgy of alloys, etc., carried out in IAE, NII-8, NII-9, VIAM, FEI with the implementation of their results at the leading enterprises of the industry - plants No. 12 and "A" On the basis of new scientific and technical solutions, they allowed increasing the duration of the active zone campaign by 6–7 times over several years, bringing it to values acceptable to the fleet.
The problem of steam generators was solved both by searching for methods and means of ensuring the quality of coolants, pipes washing them (specialists from the IAE, Karpov Institute of Chemical Physics, NII-8 worked), and the search for corrosion-resistant materials, improved manufacturing techniques, bending, and pipe welding (SKBK-189, TsNII-48). The end result of these works was the introduction of steam generators with pipes made of titanium alloys, which removed this problem. The 27VM stand played an important role in working out the solutions found for these and other problems. It tested the majority of innovations.
In the course of design and operation of reactors using lead-bismuth coolant (LBC), there were accidents at three submarines, that was the cause of impossibility of further NSs operation. These were the accident at the left side of the Project 645 in 1968 when the core was melted partially, the OK-550 RI accident at the Project 705 (task order 900) in 1971 when the additional pipelines of the primary circuit lost their tightness and the BM-40/A RI accident at the NS of Project 705K (task order 105) in 1982 when the global corrosion damage of steam generator (SG) pipe system of the water-steam circuit happened and there was about 150 1 spill of radioactive coolant into the compartment.
One of the difficulties of reactor servicing at the submarine base places and refueling is the necessity of continuous steam ingress into the steam heating system (SHS) of the primary circuit in order to provide the liquid form of coolant and join up periodically the reactor with the base installation to perform the maintenance works on coolant technology.
It should be noted one more side of the work performed. They not only made it possible to solve the problems of improving power plants and ensuring the normal operation of existing nuclear submarines, but also outlined the development paths for nuclear submarines of subsequent generations, and became the starting points for the development and implementation of new creative ideas. In the 1970s and 1980s, about 60 unified 3rd generation submarine reactors were manufactured. Most of them are currently in operation, forming the basis of the shock forces of the Russian Navy.
The technology of ship reactor facilities created in Russia is one of the world-class achievements. At present, a complete delivery of switchgear for a series of 4-generation nuclear submarines under construction by the Borey-A and Yasen-M projects is underway, 3-generation nuclear submarines are being improved, and branded technical maintenance of existing facilities is being provided. R&D is being carried out at an increasing pace for the new generation of naval RPs to ensure their strategic competitiveness.
Russia is the only country in the world with a fleet of civilian nuclear ships. For more than half a century, icebreakers with nuclear power plants have been successfully operating in the Arctic, providing reliable and safe pilotage of transport vessels on all sections of the Northern Sea Route. JSC Afrikantov OKBM is the chief designer of all ship reactor facilities for the nuclear icebreaker fleet. The first Soviet atomic icebreaker (a / l) "Lenin" was put into operation in 1959. This is the first surface ship in the world with a nuclear power plant that was unrivaled in power among icebreakers around the world. The atomic steam-generating installation APPU OK-150 was adopted as the energy source. This is a reactor installation (RU) with a loop layout, i.e. The main equipment of the circuit was located in separate buildings, interconnected by pipelines. In 1970, the OK-900 APPU of a new generation of block type was installed on the icebreaker. the reactor, pumps, and steam generators had separate housings and are connected to each other by short pipe-in-pipe type nozzles. During the operation of the a / l "Lenin", which lasted until 1989, an icebreaker conducted 3,700 vessels in the ice.
The successful operation of the first nuclear icebreaker marked the beginning of the development of a new industry - civilian nuclear shipbuilding. In the period 1975-2006. 8 more nuclear-powered icebreakers were built in the country: the Arctic, Siberia, Russia, the Soviet Union, Taimyr, Vaigach, Yamal, 50 years of Victory, and the ocean lighter container carrier reinforced ice class "Northern Sea Route".
The whole complex of systems and equipment of these plants was created and put into operation with the participation of specialists of the enterprise. Part of the RU equipment was manufactured at the production base of Afrikantov OKBM JSC. The company provides support for the operation of power plants of icebreaking vessels.
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