Russia proceeds with tests of new fast reactor fuel

25 January 2020

Russia’s Siberian Chemical Combine (SCC) in Seversk said on 22 January that it has completed acceptance tests of its ETVS-22, ETVS-23 and ETVS-24 experimental fuel assemblies with mixed uranium-plutonium (nitride) nuclear fuel for fast neutron reactors. SCC is a subsidiary of nuclear fuel company Tvel, part of state nuclear corporation Rosatom. The fuel is being developed within the framework of the Proryv (Breakthrough), project to demonstrate a closed nuclear fuel cycle. This project, based at SCC, comprises a fuel production/refabrication module for production of dense uranium plutonium (nitride) fuel for fast reactors; a nuclear power plant with a lead cooled BREST OD-300 fast reactor; and a used fuel retreatment module.

The acceptance committee was chaired by Alexey Glushenkov, chief expert of the AA Bochvar Research Institute of Inorganic Materials (VNIINM), and included representatives from SCC, Tvel, OKBM Afrikantov, the NN Dollezhal Research & Development Institute of Power Engineering (Nikiet) and Zarubezhatomenergostroy, as well as from Proryv. Zarubezhatomenergostroy, founded in 1973, with 24 subsidiaries in various regions of Russia, is a specialised organisation that provides technical acceptance of nuclear fuel and assesses the compliance of equipment, devices and materials for nuclear power plants, including those abroad. The Committee checked the qualitative and quantitative characteristics of the fuel, including the quality of welded joints and assembly structures; the absence of surface radioactive and mechanical contamination; and compliance with the working design documentation.

Rosatom said the experimental fuel was manufactured using technology "as close as possible" to the industrial design, which will be used for the fabrication and re-fabrication module of the pilot demonstration energy complex under the Proryv project. Four fuel rods equipped with "bevelled tablets" were installed in each fuel assembly.

Further reactor tests of the experimental fuel assemblies are the next stage following earlier testing of the experimental fuel assemblies with prototype BREST-OD-300 fuel rods in the BN-600 fast reactor at unit 3 of the Beloyarsk NPP, Rosatom said, adding that fuel will be delivered to Beloyarsk for more tests in the first quarter of this year.

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