Russian specialists develop equipment to produce nitrogen for advanced fuel

1 February 2024

Specialists at Russia’s AA Bochvar Research Institute of Inorganic Materials (VNIINM - part of Rosatom fuel company TVEL) have built an enlarged laboratory stand to study the separation of nitrogen isotopes in dual-phase gas-liquid systems. The work is part of a project to develop an industrial technology for the separation of nitrogen isotopes. The enlarged stand enables evaluation and comparison of various work systems to select the optimal solution.

The development of the technology for the separation of isotope in tonne quantities will make it possible to organise industrial production of the nitrogen-15 isotope, which is a promising component for high-density uranium-plutonium nitride fuel (SNUP fuel) intended for use in fast neutron reactors and, in particular for the Brest-OD-300 lead-cooled reactor under construction at the Siberian Chemical Combine in Seversk.

According to Rosatom, SNUP fuel with nitrogen-15 instead of natural nitrogen, will have several advantages. It will ultimately help reduce the production of radioactive isotopes in the reactor core and increase the efficiency of fuel operation. The isotope is unique in that it does not absorb neutrons, so its use will improve the neutron balance of the reactor core. Nitrogen-14 predominates in natural nitrogen and, due to the absorption of neutrons in the reactor core, more fissile material is required to maintain a chain reaction.

Image courtesy of Rosatom

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