Russia to start testing equipment for large lead-cooled fast reactor

2 February 2024

Russia’s Siberian Chemical Plant (SCC part of Rosatom fuel company TVEL) plans in April 2026 to begin testing a small-scale model of the steam generator for the planned large-scale lead-cooled fast reactor – the BR-1200. This will be an industrial, more powerful version of the experimental Brest-OD-300, under construction at SCC as part of the pilot demonstration power complex (ODEK - Opitno Demonstratsionovo Energo-Kompleksa), which is part of the Breakthrough (Proryv) project intended to demonstrate closed fuel cycle technology.

The lead circuit parameters in the BR-1200 test bench – a lead temperature 350-550°C, and nominal lead coolant consumption of 134 kg per second – will be specified during design. It is expected that construction of the test bench will begin this year for completion in March 2026 and commissioning the following month. [The BR-1200 is not to be confused with the BN-1200 sodium-cooled fast reactor which is to be built at unit 5 of the Beloyarsk NPP].

The technical design of the test bench was developed by the NA Dollezhal Scientific Research & Design Institute of Power Engineering (NIKIET which earlier developed a model for the Brest-300. Russian scientists, according to Rosatom, have already prepared a technical proposal for a high-power reactor unit with lead coolant.

SCC has been responsible for implementing the ODEK project since 2011 which will also include a module for fabrication and refabrication of nuclear fuel (MFR) and a module for reprocessing irradiated fuel. The MFR is already almost completed and planned for commissioning this year. Construction of the Brest-300 began in 2021 and the launch is planned for 2027-2029. Construction of the reprocessing unit planned for 2025-2026 for commissioning in 2030.

Rosatom Director General Alexey Likhachev told Russia-24: “I think that in 2028-2029 we will launch Brest as a reactor and the whole complex, as an industrial unit. But before that, we will begin building new fast neutron reactors in the Russian Federation."

Image: Installation of equipment at the BREST-OD-300 reactor (courtesy of Rosatom)

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