Login

Log In

Enter your username and password below

Is This Nuclear Power System Set for Disaster?

The nuclear power debate has raged for nearly 60 years – yet today, the issue is more divisive now than ever.

But whether you’re for it or against it, one thing is certain: Similar to water, nuclear is an energy source that we tend to take for granted.

That is, until something catastrophic happens that crushes supplies and put lives at risk.

Or worse… kills people.

With the Fukushima disaster of 2011, and even Chernobyl in 1986, still fresh in our memories, some industry experts have a radical solution to boost safety, while keeping this important industry humming…

Go Nuclear… Or Not?

Advocates say nuclear power is a cleaner, more viable, sustainable energy source than oil. One that’s essential, as it reduces our carbon footprint and frees us from Middle Eastern oil dependency.

Opponents couldn’t disagree more. They see nuclear as a high source of emissions and argue that nuclear harvesting (like uranium mining and nuclear decommissioning) is fuel-intensive. In other words, we’re polluting the air in order to stop polluting the air!

Critics also emphasize the well-publicized dangers of nuclear power… with the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters to support their claims.

These are the two highest-profile catastrophes out of the 99 total nuclear accidents that have occurred around the world.

And given that there are 435 nuclear reactors in 31 countries, the question isn’t “if” the next accident will happen… it’s when and where number 100 will go down.

So how are we going to prevent it?

Unlucky Seven

In 1986, the Chernobyl disaster was the first to hit Level 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale, based on the extreme amount of radiation exposure, and widespread human and environmental damage caused…

Gauging the Impact of Nuclear Disasters

Click to enlarge

To this day, cancers and deformities related to the accident are still turning up. And in terms of casualties and costs, Chernobyl is considered the worst nuclear catastrophe in history.

Until Fukushima matched it in 2011.

When a tsunami destroyed three of the six nuclear reactors, 300,000 people were sent fleeing for their lives. Sadly, 17,484 didn’t make it. And today, those who live in neighboring cities face a 70% greater chance of developing cancer.

So what’s the solution? How do we prevent another Level 7 from occurring in the 31 countries that house the world’s 435 nuclear reactors?

According to a few leading countries, we should sail nuclear power plants off into the sunset…

Nuclear Waves

Russia is a dirty word these days, but when it comes to the country’s energy expansion and diversification strategy, they have the right idea…

Innovate.

The country is designing radical new nuclear power plants.

Specifically, floating nuclear power plants.

Back in 2000, Russia’s Ministry for Atomic Energy drew up designs for seven floating plants to be built. However, a sagging Russian economy, combined with an outpouring of environmental activism, quickly knocked that number down to just one: the Akademik Lomonosov.

The project is being led by Rusatom Overseas, part of Russia’s nuclear reactor monopoly, Rosatom. But years of complications and overspending have delayed the project again and again.

Russia’s response?

Find a friend.

Namely, China.

Now, with a little help from China’s deep pockets, that floating nuclear plant has finally set sail, making it the first of its kind in the world.

Nuclear Plant Sets Sail

It’s quite a feat of engineering.

Developed using Russian nuclear icebreaker technology, floating nuclear power plants are designed to deliver heat and electricity to remote regions of the country, and power various resource exploration ventures.

Have a look…

Nuclear power boat: The main components in the KLT-40 barge and dock

Click to enlarge

The barge is comprised of three decks, divided into 10 compartments – all of which serve a specific purpose in the nuclear energy generation process – whether it’s creating the nuclear energy, or storing the waste.

It also comes with two KLT-40S reactors and will have a crew of 70 employees, 56 of which are dedicated engineers.

Each barge is designed to serve three 12-year cycles. After each cycle, the plant will be towed back to harbor for waste removal and maintenance.

For Russia, now that this innovation is finally off the ground (or, more specifically, out to sea!) it could be a lucrative project…

Will Regulation Sink Floating Nuclear Power Plants?

You see, the technology and energy generated from Russia’s floating nuclear power plant won’t just go to Russian interests.

The country plans to lease the technology to developing nations for emergency power scenarios and desalinization efforts. In fact, nearly 20 countries have already expressed interest in signing a lease contract with Russia.

But what about safety?

Well, Russia swears its floating nuclear power plants meet international safety, security, and non-proliferation standards. But many scientists and analysts question this unproven concept.

Also, international standards are intended for conventional nuclear power plants, not floating ones, and don’t address the unique issues with this emerging technology.

So keep in mind that regulatory action may stifle future progress of floating nuclear power plant technology. But would that necessarily be a bad thing? Are floating nuclear power plants really the future of nuclear energy technology?

Stay tuned to my next edition, where the company I’ll profile says, “No.”

And not only will you find out why, I’ll also reveal whether its own nuclear innovation is worthy of your investment. Stay tuned.

Your eyes in the Pipeline,

Marty Biancuzzo

Marty Biancuzzo

, Technology Analyst

View More By Marty Biancuzzo