1. Thanks for this post Rod, you saved me the search of the videos since you mentioned this precise story in your last Atomic Show! Can’t wait to watch the videos!

  2. Reminds me of the reporter in a canoe on a flooded street during the hurricane:


    Just remember, there’s nothing educational about television, no matter what they try to tell you.

    It should be pointed out that, with only one or two warm water ports, the need for icebreakers is much greater for Russia than it is for the US and Europe. We just don’t need something that big, no matter how cool it might be.

  3. Rod, I love nuclear as much as the next guy (probably more than the next guy), but I think this strongly shows an uncritical bias and that isn’t helpful to our cause. Let’s do some examination:


    75,000 HP (by all sources)
    150 m length
    23,500 tons
    5.7m props
    Speed breaking 2.3 meter ice: 3 knots (http://www.coolantarctica.com/Antarctica%20fact%20file/ships/Yamal_ice_breaker.htm)–Did you really believe 12 knots???
    Maximum Ice Thickness: 5 meters

    Polar Sea:

    93,000 HP
    122 m length
    11,000 tons
    4.9m props
    Speed breaking 1.8 meter ice: 3 knots
    Maximum Ice Thickness: 6.4 meters

    While I’ll 100% agree that nuclear is a fantastic (the best) design choice for a large ice breaker, especially a Russian one given how often they are used and the need in their economy, let’s not delude ourselves. The Polar sea is ~90 feet shorter in length, less than half the displacement, and manages to have very similar breaking characteristics. I think you see a design choice in continuous breaking speed vs. max ice thickness, but certainly not a lack of power. 93,000 HP is 93,000 HP no matter how you cut it. The Polar Star routinely makes trips, unescorted, to Antarctica, a place with much colder temperature extremes than the North Pole. I think you bought into the TV-generated hype a bit too much. My guess is that the low speed used reflected the norm of using the diesels at all times unless the turbines were absolutely needed, as is the norm with CODAG implementations.

    1. @Cory Stansbury

      Thank you for the corrections. I will make a few modifications to my post. Here’s a bit of an excuse, though there really is no excuse for poor research. I knew that the icebreakers were furnished with two KLT-40 nuclear power plants and I knew that both of those machines are capable of producing about 55 MW of electrical power. Therefore the claim of them being substantially more powerful than the Polar class vessels made sense to me.

      After receiving your comment, I looked more closely at sources that listed specifications for the ships to see that their three propulsion motors are each about 25,000 SHP (18,000 kw). In other words, only about half of the output of the two reactors can be directed to the shaft.

      The Polar class ships have a somewhat similar limitation; they cannot direct all of their generator output to their propulsion motors.

      Also, as I noted in the post, the main reason that the Polar Sea was moving slowly through the ice was that it had a broken propeller, limiting its propulsion to 2/3 of the maximum power.

  4. I have often wondered how much oil could be saved if oil tankers were nuclear powered. What percentage of the energy in a tanker is consumed if it travels half way around the world?
    Although most trips are shorter than that you also have to consider the return trip to pick up more oil.

  5. Email this to Time Magazine and the New York Times and see what they say. Isn’t this great human interest news??

  6. Not only does this kind of situation demonstrate the importance of the reliability of each generation means but also the delivery infrastructure as well. From what I gather the recent problems in Buenos Aires Argentina that I keep going on about involved the failure of transmission lines that could not handle the load.

    Its colder at my house in north Florida now than it is in Moscow. Most of Russia has had a unusually warm and snow free winter. Britain has seen some unusual flooding and storms as well, likely connected to our cold weather and an accelerated jet stream.

    UK storms: Giant waves hit amid fresh flooding fears ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-25618080 )

    Waves of up to 27ft (8m) were recorded off Land’s End, Cornwall.

    Thats a big wave. The video goes over some of the records.

    Its strange but I haven’t seen evidence of a substantial price drop in European natural gas prices despite the unusually warm winter Russia and most of Europe is having.

    1. Oh here we go:

      Gazprom may lower Ukraine’s natural gas prices after January 10: aide ( http://www.platts.com/latest-news/natural-gas/kiev/gazprom-may-lower-ukraines-natural-gas-prices-21011254 )

      If you read that Its interesting it seems to be (also?) a political move in response to the Ukraine situation. The “winter,” late fall started out cool but has been warm the last couple months ongoing in Europe. Of course there is always a increased demand for gas on paper at least as well; less nuclear, a cleaner fuel than coal and as a transportation fuel.

  7. Sad Numbers, and quite an understatement of a headline:

    Germany’s clean energy drive fails to curb ‘dirty’ coal power

    The share of German electricity generated from environmentally dirty brown coal rose 6.5 percent year-on-year in 2013, soaring to its highest level since 1990, latest energy industry figures released Tuesday showed.

    The use of hard coal – compared with 2012 – also increased, the group added, rising by 8 billion to 124 billion kilowatt hours. ( http://www.dw.de/germanys-clean-energy-drive-fails-to-curb-dirty-coal-power/a-17345796 )

    Lets see how the pro renewable “environmental” sites report it. If at all.

  8. Plant outages during the very cold. It looks like nuclear did very well in comparison:

    PJM grid sees power plants returning after cold-weather problems

    In its report, PJM said 19,114 MW of steam boiler plants, most coal-burning units, were shut early Wednesday when overall outages were above 39,500 MW.

    More than 16,000 MW of natural gas and diesel-fired plants were unable to operate, including nearly 2,300 MW of newer, combined-cycle, gas-fired plants.

    Another 1,600 MW of nuclear generation was shut and nearly 1,500 MW of wind. ( http://money.msn.com/business-news/article.aspx?feed=OBR&date=20140108&id=17243855 )

    PJM has 29 NPPs with a total capacity of 30,500 megawatts.

    Evidentially 9000 MW of NG was put into curtailments and not able to function due to short supply [?].

    PJM serves 51 million people in 13 states and Tuesday morning’s electricity use peak was a record for winter at 138,000 MW.

    1. Texas :

      Cold weather causes surge in demand on Texas’ electric grid

      The state’s main power grid narrowly avoided outages on Monday after several power plants failed as electricity demand soared in response to the coldest weather in two years. ( http://www.star-telegram.com/2014/01/06/5463926/cold-weather-causes-surge-in-demand.html )

      Texas imported 980 MW of power from the east coast and Mexico. Wholesale prices got to the cap of $5000/ MW for one hour.

      Rolling blackouts in South Carolina :

      SCE&G’s electric system has lost part of its generating capacity due to weather driven mechanical issues at several of its power plants. The rolling blackouts will protect the stability of the electric system ( http://www.thestate.com/2014/01/07/3194106/rolling-blackouts-planned-for.html )

Comments are closed.

Recent Comments from our Readers

  1. Avatar
  2. Avatar
  3. Avatar
  4. Avatar
  5. Avatar

Similar Posts