Russia to repurpose icebreaker reactors to produce first SMR “by 2028”

A subsidiary of Russian nuclear engineer Rosatom has been given the green light to produce small modular reactors (SMRs) based on the design used in icebreakers.

Rosatom Overseas JSC, which promotes Russian nuclear technology in the world market, announced this week that it had received a licence from the Federal Service for Environmental, Technological and Nuclear Supervision (Rostekhnadzor).

This helps pave the way toward commercialising its RITM-200N design and winning the international race to produce a fully licenced SMR. According to the World Economic Forum, the global market for SMRs may be as much as $300bn a year by 2040.

However, the license only grants the company the right to install a reactor at a site in Ust-Kuyga, in the Republic of Sakha in Russia’s extreme northeast. Rosatom agreed a deal to build the plant with the Sakha Republic’s government in December.

The RITM-200N reactor, developed by nuclear engineer OKBM Afrikantov, first went critical in 2019, and has so far been used in Russia’s three Project 22220 icebreakers.

Oleg Sirazetdinov, a vice president of Rosatom Overseas, said the licensing decision was a “milestone” for its work on SMRs.

Construction of the reactor for Ust-Kuyga is expected to begin in 2024 and be complete by the end of 2028.

Image: Rosatom’s rendering of the proposed power plant in the Sakha Republic

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