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The first nuclear power plant in the world launched

27 June 1954

On June 27, 1954 in Obninskoye village of Kaluga region, at the A. I. Laypunsky Physics and Energy Institute (Laboratory “B”) was launched the first nuclear power plant in the world equipped with one uranium and graphitic channel reactor with water heat carrier of 5 MW AM-1. This date marked the beginning of the nuclear energetics history.

During the WWII in the Soviet Union started to create the nuclear arms. The work on it was led by scholar physician, academician I. V. Kurchatov. In 1943 he founded a research center in Moscow, Laboratory N 2, which later was reorganized into the Nuclear Energy Institute. In 1948 a plutonium factory with a few industry reactors was built, in August of 1949 the first Soviet nuclear bomb was tested. When beneficiated uranium production was organized and developed on industrial scale, the discussions of problems and lines of energetic nuclear reactors creation for further application in transport and electric energy and heat extraction began. On Kurchatov’s instruction the Russian physicians E. L. Feinberg and N. A. Dollegeal started to develop the design of nuclear power plant reactor.

On May 16, 1950 according to resolution of Council of Ministers of USSR was determined the construction of three experiment reactors: uranium and graphitic with water cooling, uranium and graphitic with gas cooling, uranium and beryllium with gas and liquid metal cooling. According to the initial plan all of them were to operate in turn for a single steam turbine and generator of 5000 kW.

The construction of the nuclear power plant was governed by Obninsk physics and energy lab. The construction was based on industry reactor creation but instead of implementation of uranium rods it was planned to introduce uranium heat-segregation elements. The difference between them added up to the fact the rods were surrounded by water from outside, while a heat-segregation element was a two-wall pipe. Between the walls was the beneficiated uranium; the water flew inside the inner channel. Scientific calculations proved that having such a construction it is quite easer to heat the pipe to the needed temperature. The material for heat-segregation elements has to be strong, rust-resistant and not to change its properties under a long-term influence of radiation. At the first nuclear power plant the control system for processes progressing in the reactor was thoroughly elaborated. The devices were created for automated and manual distant control of rods as well as for emergency stop of reactor and heat-segregation elements replacement.

Besides energy generation, the Obninskoye nuclear power plant reactor also served a base for test researches and isotopes generation for the needs of medicine. The experience of operation of the first experimental nuclear power plant proved entirely the correctness of engineering decisions made by the experts of nuclear sector enabling to start a large-scale program of construction of new nuclear power plants in the Soviet Union.

In May of 1954 the reactor was launched and in June of the same year Obninskoye nuclear power produced its first industry current opening the way of applying the nuclear energy for peace goals. Obninskoye nuclear power plant had successfully operated for almost 48 years.

On April 29, 2002 at 11:31 a.m. Moscow time the reactor of the first nuclear power plant in the world in Obninskoye was stopped. According to the RF Ministry of Nuclear Energy press service, the plant was stopped for economical reasons exclusively due to the fact that ‘its maintenance in secure condition became more and more expensive each year’.

On the basis of Obninskoye nuclear power plant was created the Nuclear Energetics Museum.

Lit.: Велихов Е. П. От ядерной бомбы к атомной электростанции. Игорь Васильевич Курчатов (1903-1960) // Вестник РАН. 2003. Т. 73. № 1. С. 51-64; Государственная корпорация по атомной энергии «Росатом»: сайт. 2008-2014. URL: http://www.rosatom.ru/; Государственный научный центр Российской Федерации — Физико-энергетический институт имени А. И. Лейпунского: сайт. 2004–2011. URL: http://www.ippe.obninsk.ru/; 10 лет Первой в мире атомной электростанции СССР. М., 1964; Первая в мире АЭС — как это начиналось: Сб. ист.-арх. док. / Физико-энергетический институт имени академика А. И. Лейпуновского; [Сост. Н. И. Ермолаев]. Обнинск, 1999.

From the Presidential library materials:

О реструктуризации атомного энергопромышленного комплекса Российской Федерации: Указ Президента Российской Федерации от 27 апреля 2007 г. № 556. М., 2007.