Russia’s Breakthrough project moves forward

7 September 2016

Russia’s Rusatom Automated Control Systems (RACS) and the Siberian Chemical Combine (SCC) have signed a contract for automation of the fabrication/re-fabrication module (FRM) for dense mixed uranium-plutonium nitride fuel. FRM is part of the Pilot Demonstration Power Complex (PDPC) with a fast neutron BREST-OD-300 reactor and on-site nuclear fuel cycle facilities, which is being built at the SCC site as part of the Proryv (Breakthrough) project. FRM has been under construction since August 2014 and the work to design, manufacture and deliver its automatic monitoring and control system (AMCS) is to be completed by July 2017,” according to a 29 August RACS statement. The AMCS includes automated systems for radiation monitoring, emergency alarms, systems for radioactive waste management, formulation of nuclear fuel and control of production technology and engineering utilities.

The Breakthrough project started in 2011 and comes under the framework of the federal target programme "Nuclear Power Technologies of New Generation for the period 2010-2015 and up to 2020". As part of the project, the PDPC will be built over the next five years at SCC centred on the innovative lead-cooled BREST-OD-300 reactor with a near-station fuel cycle facility. This includes a module for processing irradiated uranium mixed plutonium (nitride) fuel and a fuel fabrication/re-fabrication unit for the manufacture of fuel elements. The unit will initially use imported materials, and subsequently fuel elements from the reprocessed used fuel from BREST. The PDPC will be supported by a centre of competence for research and processing of nitride mixed uranium-plutonium fuel. This centre will use some of the facilities and expertise of SCC’s Radiochemical plant which is being decommissioned. SCC is part of Fuel Company TVEL, which is turn is part of state nuclear corporation Rosatom.

Meanwhile, experts at the AA Bochvar Institute of Inorganic Chemistry (VNIINM), part of TVEL,  are continuing work on developing the PDPC’s  module for  used fuel reprocessing and radioactive waste conditioning.

VNIINM said work is focusing on the kinetics of the interaction of hexavalent plutonium and hexavalent neptunium nitrate in an aqueous medium with a reducing agent used for their extraction. The data is needed to predict the behaviour of ions of these elements in the technological environment, and to obtain quantitative data for later use in mathematical models of the process for refining uranium extraction from the mixture of plutonium and neptunium.

According to Constantine Dvoeglazova,  chief technologist for the development of the near-station hydrometallurgical reprocessing at VNIINM, the company is working to develop pilot equipment for testing the extraction process at a bigger laboratory facility established at  SCC. “The stand makes it possible to work continuously for three days. This is necessary to obtain representative results for stable operation of both the technology and equipment used. This year we will explore one of the projects developed by us and  we need to get results that confirm the preliminary studies.”

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