Construction licence expected for Russia’s Brest reactor

29 June 2020

Construction of the Brest-OD-300 demonstration lead-cooled fast-neutron reactor is underway at the Siberian Chemical Combine site in SeverskRussia’s Breakthrough Project Management expects to obtain a licence to build a reactor by the end of June, Vyacheslav Pershukov, head of the project said on 26 June.

To date, construction of the fuel fabrication and refining module (MFR) has been completed at the Siberian Chemical Combine (SCC) site in Seversk, and work is underway on the interior decoration of the building and its external cladding, he added.

The Pilot Demonstration Energy Complex (ODEK), which is under construction at SCC as part of the Proryv (Breakthrough) project, will include three linked facilities: a fuel fabrication/re-fabrication unit, a 300MW nuclear power plant with the lead-cooled fast neutron BREST-OD-300 reactor, and a unit for used fuel reprocessing.

The first items of equipment manufactured at SverdNIIhimmash have already arrived at the construction site and are preparing for installation. The launch of the MFR is still planned for 2022.

Pershukov said serious progress was being made in negotiations with regulator Rostekhnadzor with expecting a licence to build the reactor at the end of June. Discussions with the Scientific and Technical Centre for Nuclear and Radiation Safety have been completed, and project documentation and budgets have been approved. At the same time, preparatory work on the reactor building has been underway since 2019 and BREST is formally under construction.

There is a small backlog in terms of implementation associated with quarantine measures, but it is still planned to launch the reactor on schedule in 2026.

“We are thinking of commercialising nitride fuel, which we will produce at the MFR,” said Pershukov. “The tests of the experimental batches are going well: more than 1000 fuel elements are being irradiated, burnup is more than 8%, and there are no cases of depressurisation. In principle, we are ready to provide a solid fuel programme for the substantiation of fast neutron reactors of any design.

State nuclear corporation Rosatom planned to start work on constructing a power unit with a BREST-300 reactor installation last summer, but the general contractor (Titan-2) was only decided in November 2019. The contract price totals almost RUB26.4 billion ($378m). A construction licence was originally expected at the end of December.

Photo: Construction of the Brest-OD-300 demonstration lead-cooled fast-neutron reactor is underway at the Siberian Chemical Combine site in Seversk (Rosatom)

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