Russia’s AA Bochvar Research Institute of Inorganic Materials (VNIINM – part of Rosatom’s Fuel Company TVEL) said on 29 April that by the end of the year it plans to complete the third cycle of irradiation of experimental accident tolerant fuel assemblies with VVER and PWR fuel elements comprising four different combinations of fuel and structural materials (zirconium alloy with chromium-containing coatings and chromium-nickel alloy 42XHM as cladding materials, traditional uranium dioxide or alloy uranium-molybdenum as fuel). In addition, TVEL has ordered VNIINM to begin R&D work on the development of a technology for making tolerant fuel pellets from uranium disilicide (a compound of uranium and silicon - U3Si2). This aims to improve the safety of operation of domestically produced fuel, improve the technical and economic indicators of its operation, and also ensure the competitiveness of Rosatom in the world nuclear fuel market.
A new section has been established at VNIINM for the manufacture of experimental products based on silicon carbide, which is used to create new composite materials. They are widely used in mechanical engineering, at enterprises of the defence, metallurgical, food and chemical industries. Materials based on silicon carbide are also planned to be used in the creation of shell pipes for new generation fuel elements for nuclear power plants. In the near future, the Institute's specialists should receive the first samples of half-metre silicon carbide fuel element cladding for pre-reactor and reactor tests.
Also on 29 April, VNIINM also opened two new pilot sites for the development of high-temperature superconductors and composite materials.