Director general of Rosatom Alexey Likhachev gave briefing to President Vladimir Putin on 17 June (Photo: President of Russia)Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom is hoping for foreign partners to participate in the project of the world's most powerful multipurpose fast neutron research nuclear reactor, MBIR, which is currently being built at the Research Institute of Atomic Reactors (NIIAR) in Dimitrovgrad.

Rosatom director general Alexey Likhachev told President Vladimir Putin during a briefing on 17 June: "According to our international project – a multipurpose fast research reactor – we have handed over documents ahead of schedule, a site is ready, a technical project is ready. I really hope that this will become an attractive joint project for our partners in France , China and the Czech Republic, for the preparation of reactors for future generations," he said.

MBIR, a 150MWt, multi-loop sodium-cooled fast research reactor, has been under construction at NIIAR since September 2015. Equipment production started in 2016. MBIR was originally scheduled for completion in 2020. However, the schedule has shifted and, according to NIIAR’s annual report for 2018, the commissioning of the reactor for commercial operation is now scheduled for 2025.

MBIR will have a design life of up to 50 years will use vibro-packed mixed-oxide fuel. VMOX is a Russian variant of mox fuel in which blended uranium-plutonium oxide powders and fresh uranium-oxide powder are loaded directly into the cladding tube of the fuel assembly instead of first being manufactured into pellets. NIIAR intends to set up on-site closed fuel cycle facilities for MBIR, using pyrochemical reprocessing it has developed at pilot scale. MBIR will be used for materials testing for Generation IV fast neutron reactors. It will be capable of testing lead, lead-bismuth and gas coolants.

MBIR is intended to replace the BOR-60 experimental fast reactor that has been in operation at NIIAR since 1969 and is widely used by the international community. The project is open to foreign collaboration, in connection with the International Atomic Energy Agency's International Project on Innovative Nuclear Reactors and Fuel Cycles. Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom and the V4G4 Centre of Excellence (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia) in June signed a memorandum for participation in the International Research Centre (IRC), which will be based around MBIR.

IRC will coordinate the distribution of reactor resources among users. It will provide a platform for collaborative research undertaken by several participants, and aims to become a World Centre of Excellence on Fast Breeders. As well as the agreement with V4G4, the IRC has signed agreements with the Czech Republic, South Korea, South Africa and the USA. It is also consulting with organisations in Kazakhstan, France, China and Japan.

Photo: Director general of Rosatom Alexey Likhachev gave briefing to President Vladimir Putin on 17 June