A special production site to fabricate fuel for China’s CFR-600 fast reactor under construction has been established at Russia’s Mashinostroitelny Zavod (MSZ - Machine-Building Plant) in Elektrostal (Moscow region), part of Rosatom’s TVEL Fuel Company.
As part of the project, MSZ had upgraded existing facilities fo the production of fuel for fast reactors, TVEL said on 3 March. Unique equipment has been created and installed, and dummy CFR-600 fuel assemblies have already been manufactured for testing.
The new production site was set up to service an export contract between TVEL and the Chinese company CNLY (part of China National Nuclear Corporation - CNNC) for the supply of uranium fuel for CFR-600 reactors. Construction of the first CFR-600 unit started in Xiapu County, in China's Fujian province in late 2017 followed by the second unit in December 2020. The contract is for the start-up fuel load, as well as refuelling for the first seven years. The start of deliveries is scheduled for 2023.
“The Russian nuclear industry has a unique 40 years of experience in operating fast reactors, as well as in the production of fuel for such facilities,” said TVEL President Natalya Nikipelova. “The Fuel Division of Rosatom is fulfilling its obligations within the framework of Russian-Chinese cooperation in the development of fast reactor technologies. These are unique projects when foreign design fuel is produced in Russia. Since 2010, the first Chinese fast neutron reactor CEFR has been operating on fuel manufactured at the Machine-Building Plant, and for the supply of CFR-600 fuel, a team of specialists from MSZ and TVEL has successfully completed a complex high-tech project to modernise production,” she explained.
A special feature of the new section is its versatility: this equipment will be used to produce fuel intended for both the Chinese CFR-600 and CEFR reactors and the Russian BN-600 reactor of the Beloyarsk NPP. In the near future, the production of standard products for the BN-600 will begin.
The contract for the supply of fuel for the CFR-600 was signed in December 2018 as part of a governmental agreement between Russia and China on cooperation in the construction and operation of a demonstration fast neutron reactor in China. This is part of a wider comprehensive programme of cooperation in the nuclear energy sector over the coming decades. This includes serial construction of the latest Russian NPP power units with generation 3+ VVER-1200 reactors at two sites in China (Tianwan and Xudabao NPPs). A package of intergovernmental documents and framework contracts for these projects was signed in 2018 during a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping.