The US Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Nuclear Energy said on 28 June that it had worked with Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) and Ukrainian company, NT-Engineering, to help Zaporozhye NPP and Ukrainian nuclear utility Energoatom to optimise their maintenance approach at unit 2. The team assessed the reactor’s system configurations and maintenance routines to identify which services could be safely performed during operation instead of waiting until the reactor was shut down for refuelling.
The project also included training for Ukrainian officials and its regulators on the new risk-informed management approach and how this process could be replicated at 12 other VVER 1000 units across Ukraine. “If this process is replicated at Ukraine’s 12 other VVER 1000 reactors, as Ukraine is now planning to, it will increase the overall power output of Ukraine’s reactor fleet by the equivalent of one new VVER 1000 reactor,” said Igor V Bodnar, the project manager at ANL.
Ukraine’s 15 reactors generate more than half of its electricity and by optimising reactor operations and maintenance procedures, Ukraine could significantly increase the number of days the reactors are online producing power, DOE notes. The USA has been utilising this and other optimisation approaches for decades to operate its reactors more than 92% of the time during the year. Transferring this knowledge to Ukraine could potentially boost its annual nuclear power production by 10%.
Ukrainian regulators approved the new maintenance routine at Zaporozhye 2 on an exception basis and allowed Energoatom to perform experimental application with recommendation to adapt project results to other VVER-1000 units. The project was funded by foreign assistance funds provided by the US State Department and led by DOE’s Office of International Nuclear Energy Policy and Cooperation.?The office is also recommending a separate outage optimisation approach for Ukraine’s two VVER 440 reactors.