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Tokamak reactors to facilitate transition to green nuclear energy — Russian scientist

The Kurchatov Institute head also mentioned creating small-capacity nuclear power plants as a vital area of this program
Platform for the T-15 Tokamak Valery Sharifulin/TASS
Platform for the T-15 Tokamak
© Valery Sharifulin/TASS

MOSCOW, September 21. /TASS/. Tokamak-type reactors are needed for closing the nuclear fuel cycle and switching to environmentally-friendly nuclear power, President of the Kurchatov Institute National Research Center Mikhail Kovalchuk told TASS on Tuesday.

"I would like to say the following, without going into details: nuclear power plants based on thermal neutrons together with NPPs with fast neutron reactors and a hybrid tokamak (their combination represents two-component nuclear power engineering) will help to create a closed nuclear fuel cycle, provide nuclear power generation with fuel for a very long term and create a completely green and environmentally safe nuclear power system, which is crucial today for switching to carbon-free energy," Kovalchuk said in response to a question about the priorities of Russia’s 14th national project: the integrated program of Developing Facilities, Technologies and Scientific Research in Nuclear Energy Use Through 2024, which is overseen by the Kurchatov Institute as its scientific supervisor.

Russia participates in international thermonuclear fusion projects, the Kurchatov Institute head said.

In particular, Russia is participating in the construction of an international thermonuclear reactor (ITER) in France and also in the effort of creating a principally new IGNITOR tokamak with a strong magnetic field as part of Russian-Italian cooperation. At the same time, Russia is busy creating its own research base, the scientist said.

"Schematically, it consists of two parts: the launch of a principally new T-15 MD tokamak in our Kurchatov Institute plus personnel training on the premises of the operational T-10 facility and other installations," Kovalchuk said.

In early June, the construction of a new fast neutron reactor BREST was launched in the town of Seversk in the Tomsk Region in Siberia, he recalled. The reactor is being created as part of the Proryv (Breakthrough) project for developing a new technological nuclear power platform with a closed nuclear fuel cycle, he said.

The Kurchatov Institute head also mentioned creating small-capacity nuclear power plants as a vital area of this program.

"Among them, I would like to single out a principally new area that the Kurchatov Institute is developing. This relates to creating the so-called atomic battery for directly converting the reactor’s thermal energy into electric power. The project of this innovative nuclear power station, the Yelena battery, has been developed by our institute and will be used for supplying power to the Arctic and other hard-to-access regions. We have developed a similar battery (Selena) as a maintenance-free station for the space program," the scientist said.

Outstanding scientist and corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences Mikhail Kovalchuk celebrates his 75th birthday on September 21.