Russia’s Tvel to supply fuel for China’s CFR-600 fast reactor

14 January 2019

Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom plans to produce and supply nuclear fuel for the construction of the Chinese CFR-600 fast-neutron reactor, the press service Rosatom fuel company Tvel reported on 10 January.

"Tvel JSC and Chinese company CNLY (part of China National Nuclear Corporation - CNNC) have signed the contract for supply of nuclear fuel for CFR-600 fast-neutron reactor, which is currently under construction. The contract covers the initial loading of nuclear fuel, as well as supplies for refueling during the first seven years of the reactor operation," a press release said.

A new manufacturing line for the CFR-600 fuel assemblies is planned at Russia’s Mashinostroitelny Zavod (MSZ) in Elektrostal, Tvel’s production facility. China asked Rosatom to produce fuel, taking into account the nearly 40-year experience of the Russian nuclear industry in the production of fuel assemblies for Russian design fast reactors, according to Tvel.

Tvel President Natalia Nikipelova, said: “Tvel Fuel Company, as one of the supporting divisions of Rosatom, is aimed at comprehensive cooperation with Chinese partners in the development of fast reactor technologies and the closure of the nuclear fuel cycle.” She added that, in addition to the many years of experience in the production of uranium fuel for fast neutron reactors in Rosatom, in 2018 the mass production of uranium-plutonium mox fuel for the BN-800 reactor began. “Our Chinese portfolio also includes the contract for supply of uranium-based fuel for the China Experimental Fast Reactor CEFR, with fuel deliveries already taking place.”  

Yevgeny Pakermanov, President of Rusatom Overseas which is responsible  for coordinating negotiations on nuclear cooperation agreements with China, explained that, as this is a demonstration project, Russian specialists will produce a new type of fuel according to Chinese design. “Our team had to develop a contract almost from scratch, taking into account all the specifics of the project. Negotiations with Chinese partners have been ongoing since June 2018,” he said.  In the event, the contract  for the supply of fuel for CFR-600 was concluded in record time as part of the implementation of the Russian-Chinese governmental agreement  on cooperation in the construction and operation of a demonstration fast neutron reactor for China.

Tvel noted that the contract is part of a "large-scale programme of bilaterial cooperation." In particular, this covers the serial construction of the newest generation 3+ Russian power units with VVER-1200 reactors at two sites in China (Tianwan and Xudabao ). A package of intergovernmental documents and framework contracts for these projects were signed in June  2018.

China’s research and development on fast neutron reactors started in 1964 and fast  reactors ae expected to become the main  technology  by mid-century. The 65MWt  CEFR, built with Russian assistance, achieved criticality in July 2010, and was grid-connected in 2011. The 600MWe   CFR-600 was developed from the CEFR by the China Institute of Atomic Energy, and will initially use mixed-oxide fuel. A 1000-1200MWe commercial-scale unit the CFR1000 is planned. If approved in 2020, construction could start in December 2028, with operation from about 2034.


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