BREST construction siteRussia’s Proryv (Breakthrough) project, designed to demonstrate the closed fuel cycle, will move forward in 2018 with the construction a nuclear fuel fabrication facility for the pilot energy complex (ODEK) based at the Siberian Chemical Combine in Seversk (Tomsk). SCC is part of fuel company TVEL – a subsidiary of state nuclear corporation Rosatom.

Alexander Rodovikov, director of fuel fabrication at SCC, said on 27 December that the company had taken delivery of the equipment for the fuel production/refabrication module for production of dense uranium-plutonium nitride fuel for fast reactors. ODEK comprises a nuclear power plant with a lead-cooled BREST-OD-300 fast reactor and a used fuel retreatment module as well as the fuel fabrication module.

"The equipment is intended for the step-by-step control of the loading of fuel rods, assemblies and components," Rodovikov said. It includes a video surveillance and recording system. Two Siberian enterprises were involved in the production of the fuel assembly manufacturing line for the ODEK fuel fabrication unit: JSC NZHK-Engineering (Novosibirsk, part of  TVEL) and JSC TD Altaytal Barnaul, Altai Territory).

SCC comprises four plants for the management of nuclear materials. The combine is the only producer of uranium hexafluoride conversion services in Russia. It also specialises in the enrichment of natural and recovered uranium used to make nuclear fuel; refining of natural and recovered uranium from chemical and radioactive impurities; production of fluorides of various metals of high purity; and the production of stable isotopes.

In late November, equipment was delivered for sintering fuel pellets. The equipment included a unique sintering furnace lined with zirconium oxide and equipped with heating elements from tungsten. The complex is fully automated and equipped with a high-temperature furnace. Furnace equipment is manufactured by Sosny LLC (Dimitrovgrad, Ulyanovsk region) together with the French specialists of ECM Technologies.

After discussion in 2017 about possibly deferring the construction of the BREST reactor, it was decided to continue with the project. Vyacheslav Pershukov, the special representative of Rosatom for International and Scientific and Technical Projects, said in October that ways of curring costs were being investigated. "We are successfully looking for opportunities to optimise the cost of the BREST-OD-300 reactor unit itself. So far, following commercial negotiations with equipment suppliers, options have been found to cut costs by RUB10-12bn ($173-208m)."

Photo: Construction at Seversk