A core localisation device or melt trap (ULR – Ustroistvo Lokalizatsii Rasplava) for unit 3 of Egypt’s El Dabaa NPP has been delivered to the site, according to Rosatom’s engineering division (ASE), which general designer and general contractor for the project.

The ship with the components of the melt trap left the port of Novorossiysk in late June and was delivered six days later. The total weight of the cargo was more than 480 tonnes, and the weight of the melt trap about 150 tonnes.

“With the support of Egypt’s Nuclear Power Plant Authority (NPPA), our customer, we have delivered the melt localisation device to the site ahead of schedule, and already in October we are faced with the task of implementing the next key event – its installation at unit 3,” said ASE Vice President Alexey Kononenko, Director for the construction of El Dabaa.

The ULR is a Russian development. It is part of the passive safety system designed to prevent the release of radioactive substances into the environment in the event of a serious accident involving the destruction of the reactor vessel. It is a container with a steel body, which an emergency, safely contains any melt from the reactor core preventing it from leaving the reactor containment. The trap contains a mixture of various substances: special cement, aluminium oxide, gadolinium, etc. When mixing with a core melt, they ensure it stays within the trap and stops a chain reaction. The trap can hold corium melt for a long time, the melting point of which can reach 2400 degrees.

“Experts from the NPPA took part in inspections during manufacture of long-lead equipment in the Russian Federation to ensure compliance with safety and quality standards, as well as compliance with project requirements,” said Mohamed Ramadan Badawi, NPPA Board Vice-Chairman for Operation and Maintenance and General Manager of the El Dabaa project. “We are continuing to work with our colleagues from Atomstroyexport to successfully install the melt localisation device, which is due to take place this year.”

El Dabaa NPP will comprise four units with generation III+ VVER-1200 pressurised water reactors. The NPP is being constructed in accordance with contracts that entered into force in 2017. The $30bn project is mainly financed through a $25bn Russian loan. Rosatom will supply nuclear fuel throughout the lifecycle of the plant, arrange for the training of the Egyptian personnel, and assist in the operation and maintenance of the plant for the first 10 years. The reference plant for El Dabaa is the Leningrad-II NPP. Construction of all four units is planned for completion by 2028-2029 and Egypt expects that the NPP will reach full capacity by 2030.

Work is underway on all four units. First concrete for unit 1 was poured in July 2022, unit 2 in November 2022, unit 3 in May 2023 and unit 4 in January 2024. The melt trap for unit 2 was installed in November 2023 – a key element of the passive safety system for NPPs with generation III +VVER-1200 reactors. The melt trap for unit 1 was installed in October 2023.