Progress continues at Russia’s Brest reactor project

7 March 2023

TsKBM, (part of Rosatom’s mechanical engineering division Atomenergomash) has started assembling a prototype of the main circulation pump unit (RCPU) for the Brest-OD-300 lead-cooled fast reactor project. The unit is designed for pumping molten lead around the primary circuit of the facility, which is being built in Seversk, at the site of the Siberian Chemical Combine (SCC, part of Rosatom’s Fuel Company TVEL) as part of the pilot demonstration power complex (ODEK).

Since 2011, SCC has been responsible for implementing the ODEK facility as part of the Breakthrough (Proryv) project intended to demonstrate closed fuel cycle technology. ODEK will include a module for fabrication and refabrication of nuclear fuel and a module for reprocessing irradiated fuel as well as the Brest reactor.

Assembly of the RCPU prototype is under way at the TsKBM-2 site in the city of Sosnovy Bor, Leningrad Region. The weight of the pumping unit, which includes a pump and an electric motor, will exceed 30 tonnes. It The RCPU, made of special stainless steel, stands more than 12 metres in height. The maximum temperature of liquid lead coolant will reach 450°C.

Testing of the prototype should be completed by the end of 2023. After testing, the designers will check the condition of the parts and assemblies - to make any necessary adjustments to the design documentation and refine the serial pumping equipment.

“This is a landmark event for the global energy sector. The use of lead as a coolant makes it possible to increase the safety of the reactor’s operation, and closing the fuel cycle reduces the amount of radioactive waste,” said TsKBM Director General Igor Burtsev. “The main activity of TsKBM is pumping and remote-controlled equipment for nuclear power facilities. We will manufacture and supply four RCPUs for BREST-OD-300, the main feed pump, as well as a refuelling complex for loading and unloading fuel.”

The production of serial pumping equipment is preceded by the production and testing of a prototype - to verify technical solutions, refine materials and technological modes. A prototype RCPU will be tested in Seversk, at a specially created stand at SCC.

TVEL also said that, in 2023-2024, it will complete a simulator for testing the fuel systems of the Brest-OD-300 reactor. TVEL President Natalya Nikipelova explained: “Before loading real fuel, we will first make a simulation zone that looks like the real thing, only without uranium. This will enable the nuclear power plant to check the transportation of fuel, and all the logistics of transport operations with fuel. The production of the simulator has already begun but this process will not be fast, because it is a new product for us, a new design.”

Image: 3D model of the Brest-OD-300 reactor (courtesy of Rosatom)

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