Russia’s Federal Autonomous Institution Glavgosexpertiza (Main Department of State Expertise) on 25 August approved the design documentation and the results of the engineering surveys for the MBIR Research Nuclear Installation Facility opening the way for obtaining a building permit, arranging finance and concluding a general contract. Full scale construction is expected to begin by the end of 2020.
Documents were submitted to Glavgosexpertiza by the services of the Director for Capital Investments, State Construction Supervision and State Expertise of Rosatom as well as the operating organisation represented by the Research Institute of Atomic Reactors (NIIAR) in Dimitrovgrad and the general designer represented by the Specialised Design Institute (JSC GSPI).
MBIR, a 150MWt, multi-loop sodium-cooled fast research reactor, has been under construction at NIIAR since September 2015. Equipment production started in 2016. MBIR was originally scheduled for completion in 2020. However, the schedule has shifted and it is now scheduled for 2025.
MBIR, with a design life of up to 50 years, will use vibro-packed mixed-oxide fuel (VMOX), a Russian variant of mox fuel in which blended uranium-plutonium oxide powders and fresh uranium-oxide powder are loaded directly into the cladding tube of the fuel assembly instead of first being manufactured into pellets. NIIAR intends to set up on-site closed fuel cycle facilities for MBIR, using pyrochemical reprocessing it has developed at pilot scale. MBIR will be used for materials testing for Generation IV fast neutron reactors. It will be capable of testing lead, lead-bismuth and gas coolants.
MBIR is intended to replace the BOR-60 experimental fast reactor that has been in operation at NIIAR since 1969 and is widely used by the international community. The project is open to foreign collaboration, in connection with the International Atomic Energy Agency's International Project on Innovative Nuclear Reactors and Fuel Cycles through the International Research Centre (IRC), which will be based around MBIR.
IRC has signed agreements with the V4G4 Centre of Excellence (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia) as well as with the Czech Republic, South Korea, South Africa and the USA. It is also consulting with organisations in Kazakhstan, France, China and Japan.