Nuclear propulsion an option for Argentina

08 June 2010

The Ministry of Defence in Argentina has said it is reviewing the idea of using nuclear reactors to power some of its naval vessels.


Minister Nilda Garre announced the possibility, saying that the country wants to maintain its level of scientific, industrial and technological skills. She said that Argentina did not want to be left out of nuclear propulsion technology.


Small pressurized water reactors already power hundreds of naval vessels in the fleets of China, France, India, Russia, the UK and USA, and benefits can reach the civil industry in terms of skills and supply chain investment. For the navy, the latest reactors can provide propulsion, electricity, air and water for the entire life of a vessel without the need to refuel.


Russia uses nuclear power for a small fleet of civil icebreakers and technology from this program is now being used to create a new type of nuclear power station in which small marine reactors are placed on transportable barges. The first of these is the Akademik Lomonosov, under construction now and due to go into operation at Vilyuchinsk in 2012 and supply 64 MWe from two reactors.


As well as four diesel-electric submarines, the larger ships of the Argentine navy include a command vessel with power needs of about 40 MW, a large destroyer with about 37 MW and four smaller destroyers with needs of about 27 MW each.


One potential supplier of reactors to meet these kinds of requirements would be the nuclear technology firm Invap, which has exported several research reactors and developed the Carem power plant design. The company confirmed to World Nuclear News that the Ministry of Defense is evaluating whether the technical resources are available for Argentina to develop its own nuclear propulsion units, adding that references to any Invap involvement were speculative.
Research and written
by World Nuclear News