Nuclear Power Reactors -RBMK Reactors


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  • The RBMK is an unusual reactor design, one of two to emerge in the Soviet Union in the 1970s.
  • The design had several shortcomings, and was the design involved in the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.
  • Major modifications have been made to RBMK reactors still operating.

The Soviet-designed RBMK (reaktor bolshoy moshchnosty kanalny, high-power channel reactor) is a pressurised water-cooled reactor with individual fuel channels and using graphite as its moderator. It is also known as the light water graphite reactor (LWGR). It is very different from most other power reactor designs as it derived from a design principally for plutonium production and was intended and used in Russia for both plutonium and power production.

The combination of graphite moderator and water coolant is found in no other power reactors in the world. As the Chernobyl accident showed, several of the RBMK’s design characteristics – in particular, the control rod design and a positive void coefficient – were unsafe. A number of significant design changes were made after the Chernobyl accident to address these problems.

A Light Water Graphite-moderated Reactor (LWGR/RBMK)

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