The first module Russia’s Breakthrough (Proryv) project under development at the Siberian Chemical Combine (SCC) in Seversk will be completed in 2017. Russia has moved from the design phase of the Pilot Demonstration Power Complex (PDPC) with the fast neutron reactor BREST-OD-300 and on-site closed nuclear fuel cycle. The Breakthrough project will include facilities for fuel fabrication and fuel recycling, as well as the BREST-300 lead-cooled fast neutron reactor. Vyacheslav Pershukov, state nuclear corporation Rosatom’s head of design and innovation, said that long-lead items had been ordered from SverdNIIkhimmash for fuel module fabrication and re-fabrication. Installation of the equipment of the fuel fabrication module will start in the autumn. Construction of the facility began in August 2014. Contracts to supply equipment for the reactor facility are at the tendering stage, Pershukov added.

Sergey Tochilin, SCC director general, said the financing of the project in 2016 would be about RUB8bn (US$119m). "In 2016, about RUB3bn will be spent for construction and installation, and about RUB5bn will be spent for equipment, production of design and working documentation, for reviews," he specified, adding that to date 95% of long-lead equipment has been ordered for the fuel fabrication unit. The fuel fabrication module is expected to cost about RUB17bn.

The project will employ about 1,200 workers at the three facilities, according to SCC deputy director general Alex Vekentsev. Tochilin told Tass on 1 April that the fuel fabrication and re-fabrication module will involve more than 500 people. The facility will produce dense uranium-plutonium nitride of fuel for fast neutron reactors.

"In 2017, we should complete construction of the fabrication module which comprises about 30 buildings and structures. Construction of the reactor will start this or next year, " Tochilin said. The reactor is scheduled to start up in 2020 and the fuel processing unit in 2022, subject to approval by regulator Rostechnadzor. The necessary personnel for the complex will be trained at the Seversk branch of National Research Nuclear University (NRNU) MEPhI (Moscow Engineering Physics Institute) and at Tomsk Polytechnic University.

Meanwhile further development of the new nitride fuel is continuing with studies underway at NRNU MEPhI to find ways to reduce the interaction of nitride uranium fuel with advanced cladding materials in order to further increase burnup and decrease corrosion damage of fuel cladding.

The studies have resulted in first specimens of uranium mono-nitride with a minimum oxygen and carbon content, as well as uranium mono-nitride specimens containing dummies of plutonium nitride (cerium nitride) and some chemically active fission products (caesium, iodine and tellurium). The long-term diffusion tests have revealed a significant strengthening of interaction of uranium nitride with steel cladding when oxygen and chemically active fission product, in particular caesium, content increase. It has been demonstrated that the interaction of cladding with fuel relates to their reaction with oxygen contained in the uranium nitride.

The research results have been confirmed by the in-pile tests carried out using the BOR-60 fast reactor at the Research Institute of Atomic Reactors (NIIAR) in Dimitrovgrad. "The proposed methods for reducing any "fuel-to-clad" interaction for fast neutron reactors will significantly increase the reliability of fuel rods and fuel burnup without loss of leak-tightness," NRNU MEPhI noted.