ROSATOM’s goal is to increase the competitiveness of its products and services intended for the global nuclear market by upgrading existing technologies on the one hand, and creating new products and solutions on the other. ROSATOM currently spends more than €1-million-per-day on research and development.
ROSATOM operates the only nuclear icebreaker fleet in the world. The task of the fleet – currently operating with seven vessels – is to assure the stable and safe functioning of the Northern Sea Route in the frozen Arctic waterways north of Siberia.
Fast Neutron Reactors
The use of fast neutron reactors globally may result in the near total elimination of accumulated nuclear waste, and this process opens up further international research and co-operation opportunities. ROSATOM continues to develop its own fast neutron reactor technology. The main advantage of this technology over traditional nuclear power plants is that it can utilise the huge amounts of waste product – irradiated or highly-enriched nuclear fuel – that conventional plants produce in the process of generating energy. The first experimental fast neutron reactor in Russia was the BN-600 at Unit 3 of Beloyarsk nuclear power plant.
Another groundbreaking innovative solution offered by ROSATOM is the first and only floating nuclear power plant in the world that can be used for civilian and commercial purposes, or in emergency situations. It is equipped with small and medium size reactors in order for the plant to be able to provide enough electricity to power the basic living conditions for a city of 200 000 inhabitants. In addition to this, it can desalinate 240 tons of seawater per day, something that may prove critical in Africa.
Nuclear medicine is a new and promising priority area for ROSATOM. Though Russia has been a pioneer of nuclear research for decades, medical applications have only recently become a focus of attention. It is expected that, within a couple of years, ROSATOM’s global share in the production of radiopharmaceuticals will grow rapidly, while it enters the world market with new medical equipment developed and manufactured in Russia.
ROSATOM is also focusing on using nuclear industry technologies in ecologically important areas, such as; management and treatment of solid domestic waste, dangerous medical waste, as well as demineralisation and wastewater purification. For example, recycling projects are aimed at reducing waste dump areas, preventing water and soil pollution with heavy metals, and decreasing the ecological risks for the population in vulnerable regions.
Irradiation can be used to process food products, sterilize medical equipment and modify the properties of different materials. The technology is environmentally-friendly, and it is a very effective method of eliminating any element in food products that can be hazardous to human health, for instance, insects or germs. Innovative methods provided by ROSATOM help increase the shelf life of food products and reduce production losses.
ROSATOM also plays a leading role in the production and development of carbon fibre-based polymeric composite materials. Carbon fibre is an organic material which contains 92 to 99.99% carbon, and the technology of its production in Russia was developed in the 1980s by nuclear industry enterprises. Now it is possible to produce carbon fibre-based composite materials which are up to 10 times stronger and 5 times lighter than traditional metals.