Operating life of Russia’s BN-600 fast reactor may be extended beyond 2040

15 August 2023

The service life of Russia’s BN-600 fast reactor at unit 3 of the Beloyarsk NPP can be extended beyond 2040, according the Chief Engineer Yury Nosov. “Work to extend the life of the BN-600 to 2040 has now reached the final stage. By 31 March 2024, we must complete a set of documents and send it to the regulatory body for consideration… A further life extension is being considered depending on the resource of the reactor plant… If there is a justification, as well as the prerequisites for extending the service life further, then such a possibility is not excluded in principle." Nosov noted that Beloyarsk 3 with its BN-600 reactor is very important in terms of determining the service life of future sodium-cooled fast neutron reactors.

"The work [to extend operation] consists of three stages: confirmation of equipment resources, replacement of equipment that has exhausted its resource, and safety confirmation. The requirements of regulatory documents to improve safety are constantly tightening, and when extending the service life, we must confirm that we comply with current modern requirements."

The BN-600 sodium-cooled fast reactor began operation in 1980 – the world’s first commercial fast reactor. The current work to extend operation to 2040 includes replacement of the evaporative modules of the steam generators and replacement of the feed pumps. Much of the work is associated with checking the residual life of the equipment, in particular the condition of non-replaceable elements such as the pressure vessel and internal devices that are important for the safety of the system. Key inspections will concern equipment assigned to the reactor, turbine, electrical shops, thermal automation and measurement shop, and fire safety department.

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