Rosatom’s fuel company Tvel has completed all shipments to China scheduled for 2022 as part of the fulfilment of Russian obligations to supply the initial load of fuel for the CFR-600 fast neutron reactor, China’s flagship project. Three batches of nuclear fuel were shipped by rail from the Mashinostroitelny Zavod in Elektrostal (MSZ, part of Tvel). The delivery included all the fuel assemblies for the initial loading of the core, as well as fuel for the first refuelling. In addition, the reactor control and protection assemblies were delivered by air transport.

With the launch of the first CFR-600 power unit, the Xiapu NPP in Fujian Province will become the only nuclear power plant outside of Russia with a large-capacity fast neutron reactor. A special section for the production of CFR-600 uranium fuel was established at the MSZ in 2021 and the site for the fabrication of fast reactor fuel assemblies was modernised with the development and installation of unique equipment. At the end of 2021, assemblies of the control and protection system were sent to Chine to enable testing the reactor simulation zone.

The contract for the supply of fuel for the CFR-600 was concluded in December 2018 as part of the implementation of a China-Russia government agreement as part of a large-scale comprehensive programme of cooperation in the field of nuclear energy for the coming decades. This includes the serial construction of the latest Russian nuclear power units with generation 3+ VVER-1200 reactors at two Chinese NPP sites (Tianwan and Xudabao). A package of intergovernmental documents and framework contracts for these projects were signed in 2018 during a meeting of heads of state.

Oleg Grigoriev, Senior Vice President for Commerce & International Business at Tvel said the delivery of fuel for the CFR-600 project. “is another important area of our cooperation in addition to the fuel supply of VVER reactors at the Tianwan NPP, the development of VVER fuel fabrication at China’s Yibin plant, as well as the supply of fuel for the first Chinese experimental fast reactor CEFR.” He added: “Rosatom has over 40 years of unique experience in the production of fuel for fast reactors, and we see significant potential for further use of this experience in the implementation of the strategy of two-component nuclear energy – with the simultaneous operation of thermal fast neutron reactors – not only in Russia , but also in China.”  

Image: The fuel assemblies were manufactured at the Elemash Machine-Building Plant in Elektrostal, near Moscow (courtesy of Tvel)