More progress on Russia’s nitride fuel

24 August 2016

Russia’s Mashinostroitelny Zavod (MSZ), part of fuel company TVEL, has completed acceptance tests of components for its ETVS-14 and ETVS-15 experimental fuel assemblies with dense mixed uranium-plutonium nitride fuel for its BREST and BN fast neutron reactors. The lead-cooled BREST-OD-300 reactor will be built at the Pilot Demonstration Power Complex (PDPC) on the site of the Siberian chemical Combine (SCC) in Seversk as part of Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom’s 'Proryv' (Breakthrough) project, designed to demonstrate a closed fuel cycle. The sodium-cooled BN reactors are sited at the Beloyarsk NPP in Zarechny. TVEL announced last October that MSZ had fabricated prototypes of ETVS-12 and ETVS-13 experimental fuel assemblies for BREST, which was designed and developed by the N A Dollezhal Research and Development Institute of Power Engineering (NIKIET).

Assembly of the ETVS experimental fuel assemblies will be undertaken by SCC and ETVS-14 and ETVS-15 will then be installed for pilot operation in the BN-600 fast reactor unit at the Beloyarsk NPP. MSZ said next year it will manufacture six more assemblies - ETVS-16 to ETVS-21. The unique nitride fuel rods and pellets now feature as an exhibit in SCC’s new technological centre, which is based on the closed chemical metallurgy plant. Centre director Vyacheslav Glushenkov said that in the experimental fuel assemblies represent principally new approaches both in terms of their structural elements, as well as their materials. A fuel fabrication plant for nitride fuel will eventually built at SCC as part of the PDPC.

MSZ will also produce the absorbent element (PEL) for the core of the BREST reactor, which was ordered by the AA Bochvar Research Institute of Inorganic Materials (VNIINM), which developed the nitride fuel. Rosatom awarded MSZ the RUB24m ($371m) contract for this work on 19 August and it is to be completed by 1 December. TVEL describes PEL as an element of the reactor core designed to control reactivity using a neutron-absorbing material. 

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