Russia begins batch production of BN-800 fuel

13 December 2018

The first batch of mixed uranium-plutonium or MOX nuclear fuel assemblies has been produced for Russia's BN-800 fast reactor at Beloyarsk 4.

Industrial production of MOX fuel was set up at Russia's Mining and Chemical Combine (MCC) in Siberia under the federal target programme, Next Generation Nuclear Power Technologies for 2010-2015, with the outlook till 2020.

The project was coordinated by Russia's TVEL, but "required wide nuclear industry collaboration," a statement said.

The technology for manufacturing the MOX fuel pellets involved mixing powders and applying swirl disintegration with further pressing and sintering. It was developed by the Bochvar Institute, part of TVEL Fuel Company.

"The start of MOX fuel production for [the] BN-800 is an important milestone for solving the strategic task of establishing the closed nuclear fuel cycle, as well as double-component nuclear power industry which would include both thermal and fast neutron reactors," said Konstantin Vergazov, senior vice president of TVEL JSC for R&D, technology and quality.

"Involvement of the large stock of depleted uranium and bred plutonium into the fuel cycle would enable expansion of the resource base of nuclear power industry and reduction of natural uranium consumption," added Vergazov, also head of the industrial working group for reaching the projected indicators in MOX fuel production.

Commercial operation of Beloyarsk 4 began in 2016. The reactor forms part of Russia's plans to close the nuclear fuel cycle, and will run on a full-load of MOX fuel in the core.

Photo: BN-800 fuel (Photo: TVEL)

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