Four Russian cities have expressed an interest in using small reactors to supply heat and power, according to Yuriy Kuznetsov of NA Dollezhal Research and Development Institute of Power Engineering (NIKIET). A Rosatom feasibility study has concluded that up to 38 cogeneration reactors could potentially be deployed at 14 sites for this purpose.
In many Russian cities district heating is a common feature that sees a local power plant supply up to around 250 MWe to the grid, as well as process heat to a communal system to warm homes, schools, factories and offices. These systems have traditionally relied on fossil fuels but will need to change in line with incoming goals to gain in efficiency and to decarbonise, as set out by a Presidium of the State Council which specifically mentioned nuclear as a potential technology.
In response, NIKIET has completed the detailed design of the VK-300 reactor.
VK-300 is a boiling water model with 750 MW thermal capacity and 150-250 MW electric depending on the required mix of heat and power. It uses proven components, including similar fuel elements to the large established VVER pressurized water design. Kuznetsov said VK-300 features fully passive cooling and safety features and has no need for operator action in an emergency or for offsite electricity or water supply. VK-300 has two containments and the consequences of any accident should not extend beyond the site boundary, he said.
NIKIET counted 14 towns it considered suitable for two, three or four VK-300 units adding up to 38 units in total: Arkhangelsk, Ishevsk, Ivanovo, Kazan, Khabarovsk, Komsomolsk-on-Amur, Kurgan, Murmansk, Perm, Tver, Ufa, Ulyanovsk, Vyatka and Yaroslavl. Furthermore, NIKIET was approached by Arkhangelsk, Perm, Tver and Ulyanovsk, whose officials expressed an interest in using nuclear energy for their heat and power needs.
The next step, said Kuznetsov, would be to set up a program to implement a pilot plant.
They believe they could get generating costs down to about 3 cents per kwh
Desalination as well
The power unit with the VK-300 reactor facility is intended for combined electricity and heat generation. They would likely build a VK-300 nuclear desalination complex (NDC). In principle they could use different desalination technologies including distillation systems MED, MSF, MVC with different patterns of thermal energy transfer from the reactor to the distillation desalination units and reverse osmosis (RO) with initial water preheating or with purely electrical interconnection between the nuclear and desalination units. Also hybrid patterns are feasible (MED+RO, MSF+RO).