A1b reactor


  • Time to Re-Task, Downsize, and Re-Engineer the SSN, Part II
  • Aircraft Carrier USS Gerald R.Ford set to sea trials after a long break
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  • Video: Nuclear Vs Diesel Aircraft Carriers – How do they Compare?
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  • Time to Re-Task, Downsize, and Re-Engineer the SSN, Part II

    You may think that being nuclear-powered, Ford-class carriers will be a clear winner as they have virtually unlimited ranges while HMS Queen Elizabeth carriers have a range of only 10, Nautical Miles before it needs to refuel. But even if you discount the food supplies needed for both types of vessels, USS Gerald R Ford would still need to be refueled from time to time with fuel for aircraft that it carries on board.

    While the unlimited range may seem like an advantage at first, saving money on fuel and resupply runs. The more you look into it, the more you realize that it takes a while, if ever, for the benefits to pay off. Think of a hybrid car, you pay more money for it upfront to enjoy the fuel savings in the long run, but it will take years before it breaks even. Ford-class nuclear carriers are powered by two A1B nuclear reactors which provide 25 percent more power than its predecessor A4W nuclear reactors that are used on Nimitz-class carriers.

    Additionally, each A1B reactor produces , shaft horsepower which is equivalent to Megawatts. Increased electricity production compared to older reactors means that electromagnetic aircraft launch systems can be used which accelerate aircraft more smoothly and thus put less stress under airframes.

    In contrast Queen Elizabeth carriers are powered by two megawatt gas turbine alternators, located underneath each island, which by the way is one of the main reasons for the twin island design due to the engine exhaust shafts. There are also four megawatt diesel engines in the middle of the ship. You might be surprised to find out that conventional diesel burning power plants are more efficient than nuclear power plants. When you burn diesel, 40 percent of the fuel is turned into useful energy while in a nuclear power plant 33 percent of the fuel is turned into useful energy.

    This is because conventional power plants can generate steam at a higher temperature therefore providing more force to the turbines, but efficiency is not that important when it comes to nuclear power plants as nuclear fuel is much more energy dense.

    If you were to run each type of aircraft carrier with , horsepower, non-stop for one-week, a conventional carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth would require over 5 million liters 1,30, gallons of diesel fuel while a nuclear carrier USS Gerald R Ford would require just 4 Kilograms 8. In other words a nuclear carrier consumes as little as 0. So, while on paper nuclear propulsion is less efficient, it still provides much more power in total due to the higher energy density of the nuclear fuel.

    In fact Ford-class carriers have about seven times the power available compared to HMS Queen Elizabeth class carriers, but to be fair the Ford-class carrier is about 67 percent larger than its counterpart. This energy supply is needed for new power intensive weapon systems, like rail guns as well as new generation powerful radars.

    Having more power also means that nuclear-powered carriers can travel faster. HMS Queen Elizabeth weighs 65, tons and holds 1 million gallons 3,, liters of F marine diesel for the ship and , gallons 2,, liters of F, also known as JP-5 Jet fuel for the embarked aircraft. To put this in perspective, the total amount of fuel on a Queen Elizabeth carrier is equivalent to fuel trucks.

    In , the average cost for both the types of fuel was roughly 3 USD per gallon meaning that it would cost 3 million USD to fuel up the carrier and 2. A full tank of fuel allows the carrier to travel 10, NM at most. During operations, aircraft carriers, whether nuclear-powered or diesel-powered will consume a lot of aviation fuel, meaning that both types of carriers will need to undergo replenishment at sea at frequent intervals.

    Moreover, aircraft carriers mostly travel with escort ships which are diesel-powered, meaning there is always a need for fuel tankers. Logistically speaking, it is still harder and slower to refuel a conventionally-powered aircraft carrier compared to a nuclear one as you have to do more frequent replenishments. Nuclear reactors on carriers have to be refueled only every years or so, for instance, USS Theodore Roosevelt underwent refueling and a complex overhaul after 23 years of service.

    However, it did take four years to complete and cost 2. As mentioned earlier, nuclear fuel has a much higher power density, meaning it takes less space to store a given amount of energy. This means that the nuclear-powered Ford and Nimitz-class ships have much more free storage capacity so they can store more jet fuel, weapons, and so on. In fact, on average, nuclear carriers carry twice as much jet fuel compared to their counterparts. The bottom line is that the nuclear carriers make a lot of sense if you are covering a large geographical area, especially something like the Pacific ocean.

    Another benefit of nuclear propulsion is that it provides plenty of steam for the catapults that are used on the Nimitz-class carriers. The next element worth exploring is the construction time. Some say it takes much longer to build a nuclear carrier compared to a conventional one, for instance, it took 13 years to build the French nuclear-powered Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier but only eight years to build HMS Queen Elizabeth.

    However, it took 13 years to build a conventional-powered Russian carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, and only eight years to finish the nuclear-powered carrier USS Gerald R Ford.

    Having a colossal nuclear industry, talent, and expertise certainly plays a role in how fast one can build a carrier of any type. However, the nuclear-powered carriers not only carry a higher initial price tag but their operation and maintenance costs are also much higher than the diesel-powered ones.

    The fuel bill for Queen Elizabeth class carriers and the replenishment at sea cost will add up over time, but it would still be much lower than if the ships were nuclear-powered. Having a nuclear reactor on a ship is complicated. Traditional land reactors rely on gravity to drop control rods to shut down a reactor, but that is impossible on a moving vessel that can go up and down in waves.

    Additionally, a desalination plant specifically for the reactor must be built and maintained in order to provide fresh water for reactor cooling, again raising the expenses. USS Enterprise was deactivated in and it took four years just to defuel eight of its reactors. So, in terms of disposing, nuclear-powered carriers are clearly at a disadvantage when compared to diesel-powered vessels. Another thing to consider is nuclear safety, due to changes in the nuclear safety standards, the French Charles de Gaulle had to add extra protection all around the reactor as the detectable radiation leakage was above the revised standards.

    For the US Navy, the argument can be made that nuclear power is safe. For instance, the US Navy operates nuclear reactors on 81 ships, and for more than half a century, there have been no accidents or radioactive releases. Whenever a nation decides to build an aircraft carrier, there are two more things in play- Politics and Prestige.

    In , Pentagon decided to cut the aircraft fleet from 11 to 10 and retire USS Truman early instead of letting it undergo a midlife refit, a move that would save more than 30 billion USD over 25 years, as the cost of refueling the carrier was pegged at 3. American super carriers are unique icons of military power that project dominance in the International waters.

    No matter the cost, they are not going anywhere anytime soon. In fact US Navy is currently in the process of replacing all 10 Nimitz-class carriers. So far two Ford-class carriers have been completed with one currently under construction and seven more planned.

    Going back to answer the original question, which type of carrier is better value for money? We have to say it depends! In case of Queen Elizabeth class carriers, conventional power makes sense as the Royal Navy has limited budget and both carriers are mostly deployed in the Northern Atlantic, making the travel range less of an issue. Having 11 nuclear carriers in its fleet, the United States projects its dominance in the international waters.

    With regards to which technology is cheaper over the long-term, it is hard to say for two reasons, first of all, when comparing nuclear-powered with the conventionally-powered carriers, it is not exactly an apples to apples comparison as the ships are of different sizes. For instance, Ford-class carriers are 67 percent larger than the Queen Elizabeth class carriers.

    Secondly, no nuclear-powered aircraft carrier has been fully disposed off yet, but one thing is clear, it would be pricey. What do you think, which type of carrier is better value for money, and does it even matter? Do let us know your views in the comments section. While you think about it, here is an awesome video comparing the nuclear-powered carriers with the conventionally-powered carriers! Subscribe to get latest updates. Subscribe I've read and accept the Privacy Policy.

    Aircraft Carrier USS Gerald R.Ford set to sea trials after a long break

    Nuclear-Powered Ships Updated November Nuclear power is particularly suitable for vessels which need to be at sea for long periods without refuelling, or for powerful submarine propulsion. Over ships are powered by more than small nuclear reactors. Most are submarines, but they range from icebreakers to aircraft carriers. In future, constraints on fossil fuel use in transport may bring marine nuclear propulsion into more widespread use.

    So far, exaggerated fears about safety have caused political restriction on port access. Work on nuclear marine propulsion started in the s, and the first test reactor started up in USA in The first nuclear-powered submarine, USS Nautilus, put to sea in This marked the transition of submarines from slow underwater vessels to warships capable of sustaining knots submerged for weeks on end. The submarine had come into its own. Nautilus led to the parallel development of further Skate-class submarines, powered by single pressurised water reactors, and an aircraft carrier, USS Enterprise, powered by eight Westinghouse reactor units in Remarkably, the Enterprise remained in service to the end of By the US Navy had 26 nuclear submarines operational and 30 under construction.

    Nuclear power had revolutionised the Navy. The technology was shared with Britain, while French, Russian and Chinese developments proceeded separately. After the Skate-class vessels, reactor development proceeded and in the USA a single series of standardized designs was built by both Westinghouse and GE, one reactor powering each vessel.

    Russia developed both PWR and lead-bismuth cooled reactor designs, the latter not persisting. The largest submarines are the 26, tonne 34, t submerged Russian Typhoon class, powered by twin MWt PWR reactors, though these were superseded by the 24, t Oscar-II class eg Kursk with the same power plant.

    The safety record of the US nuclear navy is excellent, this being attributed to a high level of standardisation in naval power plants and their maintenance, and the high quality of the Navy's training program.

    However, early Soviet endeavours resulted in a number of serious accidents — five where the reactor was irreparably damaged, and more resulting in radiation leaks.

    There were more than 20 radiation fatalities. Apart from reactor accidents, fires and accidents have resulted in the loss of two US and about 4 Soviet submarines, another four of which had fires resulting in loss of life. The K accident at sea in also involved coolant failure, this time in an experimental lead-bismuth cooled reactor, and 9 deaths from ARS as well as high exposure by other crew.

    In the K was being refuelled in Vladivostok when a criticality occurred causing a major steam explosion which killed 10 workers. Over PBq of fission products was released causing high radiation exposure of about 50 others, including ten with ARS.

    Lloyd's Register shows about nuclear reactors at sea, and that some have been used at sea since the s. Other sources quote reactors in US naval vessels in mid More than 12, reactor years of nuclear marine operation have been accumulated, and Russia claims of these, and the US Navy over Nuclear naval fleets Russia built nuclear submarines and five naval surface vessels plus nine icebreakers powered by reactors between and , and was then operating about 60 nuclear naval vessels.

    Bellona gives subs with reactors For operational vessels in , Bellona lists Russian submarines plus four naval surface ships and attack submarines SSN and 25 ballistic missile ones apart from Russia. At the end of the Cold War, in , there were over nuclear-powered submarines operational or being built. Most or all are fuelled by high-enriched uranium HEU.

    In November it was reported that Russia intended to scrap all decommissioned nuclear submarines by , the total being more than of the built to date. Most Northern Fleet submarines had been dismantled at Severodvinsk, and most remaining to be scrapped were with the Pacific Fleet.

    It will have a more powerful reactor. Another three Arihant-class vessels launched by and then six SSBNs twice the size of Arihant class and six nuclear SSNs are planned, the latter being approved by the government in February A second Akula-class lease has been arranged. The USA had built nuclear-powered vessels to mid All US aircraft carriers and submarines are nuclear-powered.

    The US Navy has accumulated over reactor-years of accident-free experience involving nuclear reactor cores over the course of million kilometres, without a single radiological incident, over a period of more than 50 years. The Gerald Ford class CVN 78 on has a similar hull and some fewer crew and two more powerful Bechtel A1B reactors driving four shafts as well as the electromagnetic aircraft launch system.

    It has an expected service life of 90 years. It involves major upgrades to the propulsion plant, to the flight deck, catapults, combat systems and the island superstructure. The Russian Navy logged over nautical reactor-years to Russia announced that it would build eight new nuclear SSBN submarines in its plan to Its only nuclear-powered carrier project was cancelled in It has one nuclear-powered cruiser in operation and three others were being overhauled.

    In it announced that its third-generation strategic submarines would have extended service lifetimes, from 25 to 35 years. In construction of a nuclear-powered deep-sea submersible was announced. This is based on the Oscar-class naval submarine and is apparently designed for research and rescue missions.

    It will be built by the Sevmash shipyard at Severodvinsk, which builds Russian naval submarines. In February China Shipbuilding Industry Corp CSIC received state approval and funding to begin research on core technologies and safety for nuclear-powered ships, with polar vessels being mentioned but aircraft carriers being considered a more likely purpose for the new development.

    Its first nuclear-powered submarine was decommissioned in after almost 40 years of service. Its first domestically-built aircraft carrier Shandong is conventionally oil-powered. The occupational radiation doses to crew of nuclear vessels in very small.

    The average occupational exposure of each person monitored at US Naval Reactors' facilities since is 1. Civil vessels Nuclear propulsion has proven technically and economically essential in the Russian Arctic where operating conditions are beyond the capability of conventional icebreakers.

    The power levels required for breaking ice up to 3 metres thick, coupled with refuelling difficulties for other types of vessels, are significant factors. The nuclear fleet, with six nuclear icebreakers and a nuclear freighter, has increased Arctic navigation from 2 to 10 months per year, and in the western Arctic, to year-round.

    In Rosatom said it has accumulated reactor-years of operating experience with icebreakers. The icebreaker Lenin was the world's first nuclear-powered surface vessel 20, dwt , commissioned in It remained in service for 30 years to , and was retired due to the hull being worn thin from ice abrasion.

    It initially had three 90 MWt OK reactors, but these were badly damaged during refuelling in and In they were replaced by two MWt OK reactors providing steam for turbines which generated electricity to deliver 34 MW at the propellers. Lenin was retired in and is now a museum. It led to a series of larger icebreakers, the six 23, dwt Arktika class, commissioned from The Arktika was the first surface vessel to reach the North Pole, in Yamal, commissioned in , remains in service, with Sibir, Arktika, Rossija and Sovetskiy Soyuz decommissioned in , , and respectively.

    Nominal service life was 25 years , hours for the reactors , but Atomflot first confirmed year life for it, then in following a service life extension programme, a further 50, hours was licensed, representing six years to The original Arktika class were m long and 30 m wide, and designed to break two metres of ice.

    The sixth and largest Arktika-class icebreaker — 50 Years of Victory 50 Let Pobedy — was built by the Baltic shipyard at St Petersburg and after delays during construction it entered service in twelve years later than the year anniversary of it was to commemorate. It is 25, dwt, m long and 20 m wide, and is designed to break through ice up to 2.

    Its propulsive power is about 54 MW. For use in shallow waters such as estuaries and rivers, two shallow-draft Taymyr-class icebreakers of 18, dwt with one MWt KLTM reactor delivering 35 MW propulsive were built in Finland and then fitted with their nuclear steam supply system in Russia. They — Taymyr and Vaygach — are built to conform with international safety standards for nuclear vessels and were launched in and respectively.

    They are m long and 19 m wide, will break 1. OKBM Afrikantov was contracted to extend the operational lifetime of Vaygach to , hours, and the same was achieved for Taymyr.

    In Atomflot was working to extend the reactor life to , hours in both vessels. In anticipation of decreasing ice and increased traffic, tenders were called for building the first of a new LK series of Russian icebreakers in mid, as Project , and the contract was awarded to Baltijsky Zavod Shipbuilding in St Petersburg. The keel of the new Arktika was laid in November , it was launched in June and it was due to be delivered to Atomflot by the end of at a cost of RUR 37 billion.

    The project cost was quoted in mid at RUR billion. Construction of the Sibir started in May and it was launched by the Baltic Shipyard in September The two RITM reactors were installed at the end of Construction of Ural started in July and it was launched in May Arktika was expected to be in service in but the date was pushed back to April due to a delay in manufacturing the steam turbines.

    It commenced sea trials in December , but in February one of its propulsion motors was damaged by a short circuit, requiring complex replacement undertaken in September-October Construction of the fourth LK, Yakutia, started in mid, with the last, Chukotka, scheduled one year later.

    Sibir is to be commissioned at the end of , then the next three in , and Intended service life is 40 years. The LK vessels are 'universal' dual-draught They are m long, 34 m wide, and designed to break through 2. Top speed is 22 knots. The wider 33 m beam at the waterline is to match the 70, tonne ships they are designed to clear a path for, though a few ships with reinforced hulls are already using the Northern Sea Route.

    There is scope for more use: in , 19, ships used the Suez Canal and only about 40 traversed the northern route. This increased in — see below.

    The LK is designed to operate in the western Arctic — in the Barents, Pechora and Kara Seas, as well as in shallow water of the Yenissei river and Ob bay, for year-round pilotage also as tug of tankers, dry-cargo ships and vessels with special equipment to mineral resource development sites on the Arctic shelf. The vessel has a smaller crew than its predecessors — only They will replace the older vessels Sovetskiy Soyuz and Yamal. It is to be capable of breaking through 4.

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    Video: Nuclear Vs Diesel Aircraft Carriers – How do they Compare?

    Ford-class carriers : The Gerald R. Ford class is the future aircraft carrier replacement class for Enterprise and Nimitz class aircraft carriers for the U. The Gerald R. Ford class will be the premier forward asset for crisis response and early decisive striking power in a major combat operation. Gerald R. Ford class aircraft carriers and carrier strike groups will provide the core capabilities of forward presence, deterrence, sea control, power projection, maritime security and humanitarian assistance.

    The class brings improved warfighting capability, quality of life improvements for our Sailors and reduced total ownership costs. Improvements in the ship design will allow the embarked air wing to operate with approximately fewer personnel. During operations, aircraft carriers, whether nuclear-powered or diesel-powered will consume a lot of aviation fuel, meaning that both types of carriers will need to undergo replenishment at sea at frequent intervals.

    Moreover, aircraft carriers mostly travel with escort ships which are diesel-powered, meaning there is always a need for fuel tankers. Logistically speaking, it is still harder and slower to refuel a conventionally-powered aircraft carrier compared to a nuclear one as you have to do more frequent replenishments. Nuclear reactors on carriers have to be refueled only every years or so, for instance, USS Theodore Roosevelt underwent refueling and a complex overhaul after 23 years of service.

    However, it did take four years to complete and cost 2.

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    As mentioned earlier, nuclear fuel has a much higher power density, meaning it takes less space to store a given amount of energy. This means that the nuclear-powered Ford and Nimitz-class ships have much more free storage capacity so they can store more jet fuel, weapons, and so on. In fact, on average, nuclear carriers carry twice as much jet fuel compared to their counterparts.

    The bottom line is that the nuclear carriers make a lot of sense if you are covering a large geographical area, especially something like the Pacific ocean. Another benefit of nuclear propulsion is that it provides plenty of steam for the catapults that are used on the Nimitz-class carriers. The next element worth exploring is the construction time. Some say it michael black nfl much longer to build a nuclear carrier compared to a conventional one, for instance, it took 13 years to build the French nuclear-powered Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier but only eight years to build HMS Queen Elizabeth.

    However, it took 13 years to build a conventional-powered Russian carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, and only eight years to finish the nuclear-powered carrier USS Gerald R Ford. Having a colossal nuclear industry, talent, and expertise certainly plays a role in how fast one can build a carrier of any type. However, the nuclear-powered carriers not only carry a higher initial price tag but their operation and maintenance costs are also much higher than the diesel-powered ones.

    The fuel bill for Queen Elizabeth class carriers and the replenishment at sea cost will add up over time, but it would still be much lower than if the ships were nuclear-powered. Having a nuclear reactor on a ship is complicated. Traditional land reactors rely on gravity to drop control rods to shut down a reactor, but that is impossible on a moving vessel that can go up and down in waves.

    Additionally, a desalination plant specifically for the reactor must be built and maintained in order to provide fresh water for reactor cooling, again raising the expenses. USS Enterprise was deactivated in and it took four years just to defuel eight of its reactors.

    So, in terms of disposing, nuclear-powered carriers are clearly at a disadvantage when compared to diesel-powered vessels. Another thing to consider is nuclear safety, due to changes in the nuclear safety standards, the French Charles de Gaulle had to add extra protection all around the reactor as the detectable radiation leakage was above the revised standards. For the US Navy, the argument can be made that nuclear power is safe.

    For instance, the US Navy operates nuclear reactors on 81 ships, and for more than half a century, there have been no accidents or radioactive releases. Whenever a nation decides to build an aircraft carrier, there are two more things in play- Politics and Prestige.

    InPentagon decided to cut the aircraft fleet from 11 to 10 and retire USS Truman early instead of letting it undergo a midlife refit, a move that would save more than 30 billion USD over 25 years, as the cost of refueling the carrier was pegged at 3. American super carriers are unique icons of military power that project dominance in the International waters.

    No matter the cost, they are not going anywhere anytime soon. In fact US Navy is currently in the process of replacing all 10 Nimitz-class carriers. So far two Ford-class carriers have been completed with one currently under construction and seven more planned. Going back to answer the original question, which type of carrier is better value for money?

    We have to say it depends!


    A1b reactor