Rosatom plans to obtain a licence for the construction of a BN-1200 sodium-cooled fast reactor at unit 5 of the Beloyarsk NPP in 2027. It will be the world’s largest fast reactor breaking the record already held by Russia for Beloyark unit 4 with its BN-800. Construction of Beloyarsk 5 is scheduled for 2035. Meanwhile, preparatory work will be carried out, Valery Shamansky, Deputy Chief Engineer for Safety and Reliability at Beloyarsk NPP told a press conference. 

He said Rosatom’s roadmap for the construction the unit had been approved. “During 2023, we plan to transfer the materials of the investment project for the capital expenditures of the Rosenergoatom concern. In 2024, we plan to develop design of the structure. Public discussions and a positive environmental review are planned for 2025,” he added. All design work should be completed in 2025, and construction will begin at the end of 2026-2027. 

Beloyarsk NPP Director Ivan Sidorov said the transition of the BN-800 reactor at unit 4 to using mixed uranium-plutonium mox fuel was a key event of 2022. He said most of the reactor core his now operating on mox and in 2023 the transition will be complete.

“For nuclear energy this is a new historical stage in the transition to a closed nuclear fuel cycle, which is based on the use of a previously unused uranium isotope in the fuel cycle, as well as the use of used fuel from other nuclear power plants. This means there are energy reserves for hundreds, and maybe thousands of years.”

In 2022, extensive work also began on the BN-600 reactor at unit 3 of the Beloyarsk NPP to extend its operating life to 2040. Eight evaporators and one 5th loop steam generator were replaced. Overhaul of the 6th turbine and generator was completed. The complex of the capacity distribution scheme of the 4th turbogenerator was modernised. In addition, the work on the pressure circuit has been completed and a significant amount of quality control of the metal has been completed. Meanwhile, work continues at the two oldest units (1&2) to prepare for decommissioning. 

Beloyarsk NPP began operation in 1964. The AMB (Atom Peaceful Bolshoi) reactors (units 1&2) are supercritical water-graphite channel reactors. Unit 1 operated from 1964 to 1981 producing 8.73TWh and unit 2 from 1967 to 1989 producing 22.24TWh. After the units were shut down, some the irradiated AMB fuel assemblies with different burnup depths were unloaded from the reactors and were either transported to Mayak for pool storage or stored in on-site reactor pools. Beloyarsk 3, with a BN-600 fast neutron reactor began operation in 1980 and Beloyarsk 4 with a BN-800 fast reactor started up in 2015.

Image: Beloyarsk Nuclear Power Plant (courtesy of Rosatom)