Russia’s Novovoronezh II-1 switches to 18-month fuel cycle

15 July 2020

Unit 1 of Russia’s Novovoronezh II nuclear plant (also known as Novovoronezh 6) will switch to an 18-month fuel cycle after Rostekhnadzor (Federal Service for Ecological, Technological and Nuclear Supervision) issued the relevant permit allowing an extended fuel cycle for the VVER-1200 reactor, plant director Vladimir Povarov said on 14 July.

“Unit 6 of the Novovoronezh NPP, the world’s first generation 3+ power unit is now paving the way for further improvement at power units with VVER-1200 reactors,” he said.

Previously, the unit operated on a 12-month fuel cycle. After a careful study of a package of documents justifying the safety of the transition to a new fuel cycle, Rostekhnadzor approved the  change.

At the moment, fresh nuclear fuel manufactured by the Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrate Plant (part of Rosatom’s TVEL Fuel Company) specifically for the first load of the 18-month fuel cycle and has been loaded into the reactor. The unit will operate in strict accordance with the approved "Programme for the pilot operation of power unit  6 of the Novovoronezh NPP with an extended overhaul period of more than 12 months."

“The introduction of a new fuel cycle will significantly reduce the total duration of repairs at reactor, increase the utilisation rate of the installed capacity of the power unit, and ensure an increase in electricity generation. We have a lot of work to do with new types of nuclear fuel and control over its safe operation,” said Yevgeny Golubev, head of the department of nuclear safety and reliability at Novovoronezh NPP.

The pilot operation phase will last about three years. Based on its results, a decision will be made on the final transition to the 18-month fuel cycle. A similar procedure is planned at unit 7 (Novovoronezh II-2). “The introduction of an 18-month fuel cycle at this unit will allow us to use the experience gained for other similar units both in our country and abroad,” said Povarov.

Photo: Novovoronezh 6 entered commercial operation in February 2017 (Photo: Rosatom)

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