During the recent scheduled outage at unit 7 of Russia’s Novovoronezh NPP the main stage of cold testing of the lead sample of the TUK-137TR used fuel container was completed.

The cold tests involve performing a full cycle of work with transport and technological equipment without using used nuclear fuel. Instead, simulators of fuel assemblies were loaded into the container, which completely replicate the weight and size characteristics of real fuel assemblies.

During the tests, the container was transported to the reactor compartment of unit 7, installed in a universal socket, and the installation of fuel assembly simulators in the channels of the casing, sealing the lid, and decontamination were tested. The entire process was controlled by a special commission chaired by Oleg Kucherenko, Deputy Chief Engineer for Safety & Reliability at Novovoronezh NPP.

“We decided to divide the tests into two stages. We have carried out the tests in the reactor department, and the routine lifting and lowering of the container onto the transport portal will take place at the end of this year,” said Evgeniy Golubev, head of the Nuclear Safety & Reliability Department at Novovoronezh NPP. “The first and most difficult stage was completed successfully. Now we have to complete the manufacture of equipment for testing work outside the reactor compartment and complete it. The development of such containers is an extremely important and relevant task for both Russian NPPs and foreign projects. In the near future, the nuclear industry will establish the process for their production and begin removing used fuel from unit 6 at the Novovoronezh NPP – the first power unit with VVER-1200 type reactors that was put into operation.”

Transport & packaging containers (TUK Transportno-Upakovochnii Konteinerii) are necessary for transporting used nuclear fuel to regeneration plants for storage and reprocessing. Their development makes it possible to safely remove new types of used fuel from Russian NPPs with VVER-1200 type reactors ensuring uninterrupted operation and stable power generation. The container passed factory tests and was handed over to the industry acceptance commission in 2022. The customer for the lead container TUK-137TR was JSC NFC Logistics Centre, part of the Tenex group of companies. It must undergo a cycle of technological tests (cold, thermophysical and hot) at different NPPs and fuel reprocessing plants before it can be put into regular operation.

To transport the TUK-137TR, the TK-U railway transporter, owned by the Federal State Unitary Enterprise Mining & Chemical Combine, has been upgraded. At the moment, a decision is being prepared to begin serial production of TUK-137TR containers for use at reactors of the VVER-1200/1300 type, as well as at the Belarus NPP, in line with the intergovernmental agreement on the management of used fuel.