Comprehensive testing of equipment has begun at the nuclear fuel fabrication/refabrication module (MFR) which will support Russia’s Brest-OD-300 lead-cooled fast reactor under construction at the Siberian Chemical Plant (SCC, part of Rosatom’s Fuel Company TVEL) in Seversk.

The Brest reactor is part of the pilot demonstration power complex (ODEK) facility which SCC has been responsible for implementing since 2011 as part of the Breakthrough (Proryv) project intended to demonstrate closed fuel cycle technology. As well as the reactorand MFR, ODEK will also include a module for reprocessing irradiated fuel. Construction of Brest, which will be the world’s first reactor to use liquid lead as a coolant, began in 2021 and it is scheduled to begin operation in 2029. The MFR is scheduled for operation in 2024.

Equipment testing has begun at the MFR on the production line for mixed nitride uranium-plutonium (SNUP) fuel, which will be loaded into the reactor. In September 2023, the first tests took place at the section for pressing blocks – blanks for the subsequent production of nuclear fuel pellets. About 600 blanks were made.

Aluminium oxide powder was used as a simulator during testing.

“This material is well pressed, making it possible to clearly view the geometry of the blanks,” explained Alexey Filippov, leading specialist at the section for receiving, preparing and manufacturing the fuel pellets. “The use of modern equipment allows us to achieve the required productivity using model powders.”Specialists from SCCand Atomtekhenergo JSC examines the density of the resulting product. Blanks pressed using different pressure were selected for individual testing. The aim is to achieve the optimal operating mode of the press machine. The next comprehensive test will be at the nuclear fuel pellet pressing site. The fuel pellets will be loaded into fuel rods (elements), from which fuel assemblies will be made.