China has developed floating nuclear reactors, which will power off-shore oil rigs and can withstand “once-in-10,000-year” storms. In order to test its resilience, marine engineers made the newly designed 60-megawatt reactors go through strong winds and dangerously powerful undercurrents.
The Bohai Sea does not have a lot of storms, but this is where the reactors will be used. “The ship body must not capsize under any circumstance,” said the researchers, according to the report.
The test was completed after many hours. The researchers at the Wuhan Second Ship Design and Research Institute found a lot of ways how the ship would be like when faced with extreme weather conditions. The researchers further increased the simulated wind speeds to more than 120 mph (193 k/h) and added strong waves and undercurrents. The ship turned out to stand tall.
The United States military operated the world’s first floating nuclear plant in the 1960s and 70s. In 2018, Russia launched the Akademik Lomonosov, a 70-megawatt floating power plant that detractors dubbed “nuclear Titanic”. Last year, Seaborg, a startup based in Copenhagen, announced it had raised more than $10 million to begin its effort of building thousands of relatively cheap floating reactors. The company’s CEO and co-founder said that it is “not reducing the likelihood of an accident to zero, there will be accidents. We should avoid them as much as we can, but there will be accidents.”
Russia sent the Akademik Lomonosov to Pevek, a port town in the Arctic. This means that power can be brought to remote places that do not have enough infrastructure.
China’s fleet of floating power plants has geopolitical implications. Analyst Viet Phuong Nguyen says that despite China’s claims that its floating reactors will power oil and gas exploration in the South China Sea, the size of the government’s planned fleet of reactors indicates the program is also meant to “help solidify China’s military foothold in this contested area.”