Brazil’s fuel cycle company Indústrias Nucleares do Brasil (INB) said on 19 November that it would shortly launch the 9th cascade of centrifuges at its Uranium Isotopic Enrichment Plant, part of the Nuclear Fuel Factory (FCN) in Resende. INB said that, with the expansion, “it will reduce its dependence on contracting isotopic enrichment service abroad for the production of fuel for national nuclear power plants”.
The launch of the 9th cascade will make it possible to reach production capacity to meet 65% of the demand for annual refuelling at Angra 1, an increase of around 5% compared with current capacity. The investment for the construction of this cascade was BRL54 million ($9.6m).
The opening is part of the first phase of the plant's implementation, a project in partnership with the Brazilian Navy, which seeks to install ten cascades of ultracentrifuges at FCN. Its completion is scheduled for 2023, with the entry into operation of the 10th cascade, when the capacity of 70% of the annual demand necessary to supply Angra 1 will be reached. Previously, it was assumed that the 9th cascade would be introduced in 2020, and the tenth in 2021. The reasons for the delay were not reported.
The technology for enriching uranium using ultracentrifuges was developed in Brazil by the Technological Centre of the Navy in São Paulo (CTMSP), in partnership with the Institute for Energy and Nuclear Research (IPEN/CNEN). Development of FCN's Uranium Isotopic Enrichment Plant will be carried out, in a modular fashion, in two phases, the second being composed of 30 cascades.
When the installation of the Plant is completed, Brazil will become self-sufficient in uranium enrichment. The forecast is that, by 2033, INB will be able to meet, with fully national production, the needs of the Angra 1 and 2 nuclear units and by 2037 also the demand for Angra 3.
Brazil has two reactors in operation at the Angra nuclear power plant located between Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Angra 1, a 657MW pressurised water reactor is licensed to operate until 2024. The plant is currently undergoing life extension and pursuing a 20-year operating licence renewal. Angra 2, a 1357MW PWR, has operated at the same site since 2001. Angra 3 is currently under construction with commercial operation targeted for late 2026. Brazil has plans for further 10GW of new nuclear capacity by 2050.