Reactor pressure vessel delivered to Akkuyu 3

14 November 2023

The reactor pressure vessel (RPV) has been delivered by Rosatom to the construction site of the Akkuyu NPP under construction in Turkiye, following a 3,150 km voyage by sea. The RPV is a vertical cylindrical vessel with an elliptical bottom, which will contain the core, devices for control and protection systems of the reactor, structural elements for to control the nuclear reaction and to transfer thermal energy to the coolant. The RPV, which weighs 347.5 tonnes in shipping packaging, is 11.45 metres long and 5.7 metres wide. It was manufactured at the Atommash plant, part of Rosatom’s mechanical engineering division.

“After completion of the mandatory incoming inspection procedures, the reactor vessel will be handed over for installation, said Sergei Butskikh, First Deputy General Director of project company Akkuyu Nukleer JSC and Director of NPP construction. “During its production, about 300 different checks and control operations were carried out. This equipment operates under special conditions and must ensure the tightness of the reactor during operation, safe reloading of fuel and operation of the reactor installation for more than 60 years of service life.”

The RPV was the fifth one shipped from Rosatom’s production site in 2023 – an absolute record for Russian nuclear engineering. Currently, Rosatom is the world's largest exporter of nuclear technologies and is engaged in serial construction of nuclear facilities in seven foreign countries.

Meanwhile, Turkiye’s first full-scale NPP simulator was put into operation at Akkuyu NPP. The opening ceremony of the full-scale simulator took place in the new building of the training centre at the construction site attended by representatives of Akkuyu Nuclear, Turkiye’s Ministry of Energy & Natural Resources of the Republic of Turkey, Rusatom Service (responsible for the supply, installation and commissioning of the simulator), as well as participants of the first group of Akkuyu NPP engineers, who will train on the simulator.

Addressing the opening ceremony, Sergei Butskikh said the safe and stable operation of a NPP depends on the operating personnel, their skills and competencies. “Thanks to the commissioning of a full-scale simulator, in conditions as close as possible to real ones, our operators will work out all possible scenarios for operating a nuclear facility.” Before starting work at the Akkuyu NPP, employees who have completed simulator training will be required to pass certification exams and obtain licences from Turkiye’s regulatory body, the Nuclear Regulatory Agency.

The head of the Department of Nuclear Infrastructure Development at the Turkish Ministry of Energy & Natural Resources, Salih Sary, noted: “In addition to extensive professional knowledge and high qualifications, NPP workers also need to strictly adhere to the principles of safety and quality culture. The full-scale simulator will be used for decades to improve the skills of Akkuyu NPP personnel, contributing to the development of competencies of plant operators and engineers. Thousands of Turkish engineers will be trained here.”

Akkuyu, Turkiye's first NPP, will eventually host four Russian-designed VVER-1200 reactors. The pouring of first concrete for unit 1 took place in April 2018, for unit 2 in June 2020, for unit 3 in March 2021, and for unit 4 in July 2022. Completion of unit 1 is expected in the third quarter of 2023. Rosatom is constructing the reactors according to a build-own-operate model. To date, the project is fully funded by the Russian side. However, Rosatom has the right to sell a share of up to 49% in the project to other investors.

Under the terms of the Intergovernmental Agreement between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Turkiye, commissioning of unit 1 should take place within seven years after receiving all necessary permits. As the construction licence for unit 1 was issued in 2018, commissioning is formally due by 2025. However, every effort is being made to ensure that it will be ready in time for Turkiye’s centenary celebrations in 2023.

Image: Delivery of the reactor pressure vessel for the Akkuyu 3 nuclear power plant under construction in southern Turkey (courtesy of Atommash)

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