Russia’s Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrates Plant (part of TVEL Fuel Company, a subsidiary of state nuclear corporation of Rosatom) has manufactured two experimental fuel assemblies with accident tolerant nuclear fuel for VVER and PWR reactors, TVEL announced on 27 December.
The experimental fuel assemblies consist of fuel rods with four different combinations of shell construction materials and a fuel matrix. Fuel pellets are made of both traditional uranium dioxide and uranium-molybdenum alloy with increased density and thermal conductivity. Cladding materials comprise a zirconium alloy with chrome plating and a chromium-nickel alloy.
Prototypes of the fuel have completed factory tests and have been shipped to the Research Institute of Atomic Reactors in Dimitrovgrad (Ulyanovsk region), where they will be loaded into the MIR research reactor for reactor tests.
“After the first stage of reactor tests and post-reactor studies, a significant amount of work will be done to select the optimal combination of tolerant fuel materials and substantiate the neutron-physical characteristics of water-cooled reactor cores," said Alexander Ugryumov, Vice-President for Scientific and Technical Activities at TVEL.
The next important step will be trials in pilot operation at Russian nuclear plants after which TVEL “will be able to offer tolerant Russian-made fuel to the world market".
Research and development on the new fuel has been coordinated by the AA Bochvar Research Institute of Inorganic Materials (VNIINM).