A1B (nuclear reactor)

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The A1B is a nuclear reactor , which by the Bechtel is built and by the United States Navy for generating electrical energy and driving force for the aircraft carrier of the Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier is used. Each aircraft carrier will be equipped with two of these reactors.


The designation A1B stands for:

  • A = aircraft carrier platform
  • 1 = first generation reactor core
  • B = Bechtel (manufacturer / developer)


The A1B was developed by Bechtel as the successor to the A4W , which is used in the aircraft carriers of the Nimitz class . The ships of the Nimitz class are designed for a service life of 49 years, which is divided into three periods: 2 each 23-year service period, which are interrupted by a 3-year stay in dry dock. During the stay in the shipyard, the reactor will be equipped with new fuel elements and maintenance and repair measures will be carried out.

The Gerald R. Ford class aircraft carriers are designed for a service life of 50 years. Like the A4W of the Nimitz class, the A1B reactors are to be fitted with new fuel elements in the middle of the aircraft carrier's planned service life. The two A1B reactors deliver 2.5 or 3 times the electrical output of their predecessors. The additional electrical power should be able to cover requirements, e.g. B. new on-board systems such as EMALS or future weapon systems such as energy weapons that have not yet been used on the Nimitz class.

Like all reactors currently used by the US Navy, the A1B is a pressurized water reactor . According to WNA , it has a thermal output of approx. 700 MW and is operated with highly enriched uranium .

Highly enriched uranium (HU)

The degree of enrichment of the highly enriched uranium (HU) used is given as more than 93%. The use of HU is controversial. In 1994 the Office of Naval Nuclear Propulsion (ONNP) rejected the use of non-weapons-grade uranium for the US Navy due to its numerous disadvantages. The period of time that z. For example, if the Virginia class reactor can be operated without replacing the fuel elements, the use of uranium with an enrichment level of 20% would decrease from 33 years to just 7.5 years. In 2014, a study by the Ministry of Energy came to the same conclusion. A Ford-class aircraft carrier would require two fuel assemblies instead of a single change, which would result in higher costs.

Although the US stopped enriching uranium for its naval reactors in 1992 (or 1991), it has adequate supplies well beyond 2050. In 2005 they announced that 160 t of HU from nuclear weapons would be used for the naval reactors.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) Christening in Newport News, Va. United States Navy , accessed October 2, 2015 .
  2. a b Ford's design. thefordclass.com, accessed October 14, 2015 .
  3. ^ Marine Applications of Nuclear Power. www.academia.edu, SS122, 134 , accessed on October 18, 2015 (English).
  4. Modernizing the US aircraft carrier fleet: accelerating CVN 21 production versus mid-life refueling. (PDF 399 KB, p.16 (xiii)) RAND Corporation , accessed October 2, 2015 .
  5. Newest Aircraft Carrier USS Gerald R. Ford Launched. defense-update.com, November 9, 2013, accessed October 18, 2015 .
  6. Naval Nuclear Propulsion Plants. National Nuclear Security Administration , accessed October 18, 2015 .
  7. ^ Nuclear-Powered Ships. World Nuclear Association , August 2015, accessed September 26, 2015 .
  8. a b c Ending the Production of Highly Enriched Uranium for Naval Reactors. (PDF 235 KB, pages 2-4 (87-89), pages 8 (93)) cns.miis.edu, accessed on October 18, 2015 (English).
  9. REPORT ON USE OF LOW ENRICHED URANIUM IN NAVAL NUCLEAR PROPULSION. www.yumpu.com, June 1995, SS7, 35 , accessed on October 16, 2015 (English).
  10. ^ Report on Low Enriched Uranium for Naval Reactor Cores. (PDF 2.31 MB, page 7 (3)) United States Department of Energy , January 2014, accessed on October 18, 2015 (English).
  11. ^ Naval Reactors. (No longer available online.) Y-12 National Security Complex , archived from the original on September 30, 2015 ; accessed on October 18, 2015 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.y12.doe.gov