Romanian nuclear utility SN Nuclearelectrica (SNN) and Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for cooperation in the field of nuclear fuel to further develop fuel processing and ensure the resilience of fuel production capabilities. Both Romania’s Cernavoda NPP and South Korea’s Wolsong NPP operate Candu-type pressurised heavy water reactors.

Under the MOU the SNN and KHNP will collaborate to investigate the planning and development of activities for technical uranium concentrates processing, with the aim of qualifying SNN as a potential supplier of sinterable UO2 powder to KHNP. It will also explore possible collaboration in the area of fuel assembly fabrication.

In December 2022, SNN completed acquisition of certain assets related to uranium concentrate processing from Cernavoda NPP’s Feldioara Branch. SNN is planning to refurbish and modernise the production line in order to expand its activity in the field of nuclear fuel management and services. The acquisition was aimed at preserving and developing an integrated Romanian nuclear fuel cycle and to ensure the resilience of the production capacities of Nuclearelectrica, SNN CEO Cosmin Ghita explained.

SNN sought to integrate the manufacture of Candu type nuclear fuel through the acquisition. The deal aimed to ensure the optimal operation of SNN’s Fabrica de Combustibil Nuclear fuel fabrication plant in Pitesti (FCN Pitesti) and of the Cernavoda NPP, given plans to expand the plant, and would help maintain the nuclear fuel cycle at an advantageous transaction cost.

“In the context of expanding the production of Cernavoda NPP with two more units by 2030/2031 it was crucial for us to ensure the security of production of fuel assemblies and the optimal operation of FCN Pitești and Cernavoda NPP,” said Ghita. “By cooperating with highly experienced partners such as KHNP, we want to further develop our fuel management and production capabilities and be able to export our services.”

KHNP as the owner and operator of the Candu reactors in Korea, is an experienced producer of advanced Candu 6 fuel assemblies and is interested in diversifying its sources of uranium dioxide powder with natural isotopic composition for its needs. Romania’s Cernavoda NPP currently comprises two Candu 6 reactors and is planning the construction of two more. KHNP also recently signed a contract worth $200m to construct a tritium removal facility at The Cernavoda site.


Image: Signing of the MoU in Seoul (courtesy of Nuclearelectrica)