Russia fuel company Tvel (part of state nuclear corporation Rosatom) plans to supply its TVS-Kvadrat (TVS-K) fuel on a commercial scale, Pyotr Lavrenyuk, a senior vice-president at Tvel, said in an interview published in Rosatom’s February newsletter.
TVS-K fuel was developed by Tvel for use in Westinghouse-made 3-loop and 4-loop pressurised water reactors (PWRs). In 2012, Tvel and Sweden-based Vattenfall Nuclear Fuel signed a contract for the supply of TVS-K fuel assemblies for Ringhals 3. That contract allowed Russia to test the fuel in a Western-design PWR for the first time. In December 2016, Vattenfall said it had signed three long-term nuclear fuel supply contracts for the Ringhals 3&4 PWRs, one of them for TVS-K fuel with Tvel.
Lavrenyuk said TVS-K fuel development was coordinated by OKBM Afrikantov. Materials and design were developed by the AA Bochvar Russian Research Institute of Inorganic Materials. The Leipunsky Institute of Physucs and Power Engineering in Obninsk and the Kurchatov Institute were also involved, as well as the Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrate Plant and the Chepetsk Mechanical Plant.
He noted that the new fuel differs in several ways from Westinghouse or Areva fuel, including structural materials, spacer grids and manufacturing technology. “We strive to make a fuel that will be trouble-free for the operators in terms of control. We managed to design fuel elements that do not change their geometrical shape after five years in operation in very tough conditions. When designing TVS-K, we relied on our expertise in producing nuclear fuel for VVER reactors. Fuel burnup is another important parameter. We have reached a burnup of 60 MWd/kgU while maintaining safe and reliable operation of the fuel assembly,” he said.
Sweden played a key role in supporting development of the fuel. “In 2008, we began working in close contact with Swedish company Vattenfall that provided us with data needed to finalise the project. It took TVEL two years to have been qualified as a fuel supplier.In 2011, our Swedish partners made sure that our product met their requirements and decided to work with us,” Lavrenyuk explained. A contract for commercial supplies of TVS-K fuel was signed in 2016 with Sweden as a ‘deferred decision’ contract, with deliveries to begin in 2021.
Tvel has assessed the nuclear fuel market opportunities and has set “ambitious” goals for the promotion of the TVS-K fuel design. Most of the target PWRs are in the USA and entering that market is a “new and difficult task”, Lavrenyuk said. In 2016 Tvel formed a partnership with Global Nuclear Fuel-Americas (GNF-A), a joint venture between GE Energy, Toshiba and Hitachi, which aims to establish production of TVS-K fuel assemblies on US soil.