Research and developmentMilestones of the Russian nuclear industry development are closely linked with the research and development progress and discoveries in this field. The Russian nuclear industry dates back to foundation of two research centres – the National Institute for Radiology and X-ray Technologies (1918) and the Khlopin Radium Institute (1921). Since then scientists have devoted much effort to researching nuclear physics, plasma, quantum optics, gas dynamics, hydrodynamics, thermodynamics, radiation chemistry, acoustics, etc. Russia has evolved a sophisticated system of R&D institutions capable of bringing to life new developments – from fundamental studies to prototyping.
The ROSATOM core R&D hubs focused on fundamental nuclear physics include the Institute for High Energy Physics and Institute for Theoretical and Experimental Physics. Apart from fundamental studies, ROSATOM operates two applied research centres in Sarov and Snezhinsk, and over 20 research institutes and design centres across the country developing new technologies in a variety of fields – from uranium extraction and processing to new types of nuclear fuel, construction materials and the treatment of nuclear waste.
ROSATOM is an active supporter of international research projects. One of them is development of a tokamak-based thermonuclear experimental reactor initiated by Russia. Three other projects (INPRO and Generation IV nuclear reactors and the Global Nuclear Energy Initiative) are carried out in association with IAEA.
Russia is a world leader in the development of sodium-cooled fast breeder reactors and the only country operating a high-power reactor of this type (BN-600 at Beloyarsk NPP). Research efforts in this field are directed by the Leipunsky Institute of Physics and Power Engineering (Obninsk, Kaluga Region). The research programme is also focused on fundamentals of lasers, plasma and fusion energy. The leading institution for plasma and laser studies is Troitsky Institute for Innovation and Fusion Research.
ROSATOM concentrates on innovations in water treatment, new medical isotopes and superconductors. In addition, special emphasis is placed on advancements in nanotechnology. In association with ROSNANO, we develop nano-based applications to create functional materials for use in the nuclear, fusion, hydrogen and conventional power industries, the medical industry and consumer products.
Another field of research is development of a megawatt-class nuclear engine for spacecraft. A vehicle equipped with a nuclear engine is expected to have 30 times the power reserve of conventional spaceships. The designs we are developing will enable mankind to build spaceships that can address all the space challenges of the 21st century, such as cargo transport, removal of space debris, asteroid impact avoidance, etc. The nuclear engine is designed by the Dollezhal Research and Development Institute of Power Engineering in association with the Keldysh Research Centre. A prototype will be ready for flight testing in 2018.