For the mid-twentieth century, this was an incredible breakthrough. Scientists have shown that the energy of the atomic nucleus can be used not only destructively, as it was before, but also for peaceful purposes. AiF.ru remembers how and for what the Obninsk NPP was built – the first nuclear power plant in the world connected to the common power grids.
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How to make an atom peaceful
In 1945, Academician Peter Kapitsa submitted to the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR a note “On the use of intra-atomic energy for peaceful purposes”. After studying it, and also taking into account the arguments of the director of the Atomic Energy Institute Igor Kurchatov, the USSR government in May 1949 issued a decree on the establishment of a nuclear power plant. Obninsk of Kaluga Region was chosen for construction. The Institute of Physics and Energy has already operated there, and you can get from Moscow in just a couple of hours.
The creation of a strategic object took five years. On May 9, 1954, the reactor was launched at “zero” power: a chain reaction began in it, and scientists were able to verify its physical characteristics. And a month and a half later, on June 26, steam was supplied to the NPP turbine. It was already a full launch. The head of the “B” facility (the station was called for conspiracy), Dmitry Blokhintsev, wrote in the operational journal: “17 hours 45 minutes. Steam is fed to the turbine. ” Academicians Igor Kurchatov and Anatoly Alexandrov, who were present, congratulated all those who had gathered with the phrase "Enjoy Your Bath!"
Reactor of the Obninsk NPP. 1974 Photo: RIA Novosti
A clipping from the Pravda newspaper with a TASS report dated June 30, 1954 is now stored in the memorial complex of the Obninsk NPP. “In the Soviet Union, the design and construction of the first industrial nuclear power plant with a useful capacity of 5,000 kilowatts was successfully completed,” it said. The name of the locality where the nuclear power plant is located, for obvious reasons, is not given.
The very next morning, Obninsk NPP began to supply electricity to the Mosenergo network.
In the underground room of the Obninsk nuclear power plant. 1966 Photo: RIA Novosti / Alexander Mokletsov
Worked for the prestige of the country
In fact, the power of the nuclear power plant was very small – only 5 MW – and it did not play a significant role in providing the capital region with energy. To include the station in the power supply system, it is necessary that its capacity was calculated in thousands of megawatts. However, the very fact of the launch of the first nuclear power plant in the world was of tremendous strategic importance. He worked for the prestige of the country, showed that the Soviet Union was at the forefront of scientific research and was seeking to use them for peaceful, not military, purposes.
Obninsk NPP has become a unique experimental base for further scientific research. If at first it was considered as an experimental power station, then after a couple of years, it began to conduct experiments on it, which are necessary to create more powerful nuclear power plants. It was in Obninsk that the program of the peaceful atom was run in to understand how to use the decay energy of the nucleus not only in the energy sector, but also in transport. And the reactor of the nuclear power plant AM-1 (uranium-graphite channel-type design) became the prototype of a series of powerful reactors developed in the Soviet Union. They are called RBMK – a high power channel reactor.
By the beginning of the twenty-first century, it became clear that the further operation of the Obninsk nuclear power plant (which at that time served 18 years longer than planned) is not economically feasible. The reactor unit was stopped on April 29, 2002. Since then, the Obninsk nuclear power plant has become a museum complex.
The building, which houses the reactor of the Obninsk nuclear power plant – the world's first nuclear power plant. In 2002, the nuclear power plant was disabled, now it houses a nuclear energy museum. Photo: RIA News / Pavel Bykov
Now excursions of schoolchildren and students lead to the three-story building, foreign delegations come here – the so-called “atomic tourism” is in fashion. Six years ago, even Queen Elizabeth II’s cousin, Prince Michael of Kent, visited Obninsk.
Obninsk NPP has been working for 48 years without emergency and accidents. Besides the fact that it symbolized a breakthrough in the field of nuclear energy, it became a model of stability in this industry. And the hope that the future of world energy is still behind nuclear physics.
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