Russian fuel company TVEL, part of state nuclear corporation Rosatom, intends to start building a power unit with a Brest- OD-300 reactor unit at the Siberian Chemical Combine (SCC – part of TVEL) in the city of Seversk, Tomsk Region, this summer, TVEL President Natalia Nikipelova said on 25 March.

The Brest-OD-300 demonstration lead-cooled fast-neutron reactor unit, with an on-site nuclear fuel cycle, is part of an experimental demonstration power complex (ODEC) which comes under the Proryv (Breakthrough) project for the development of closed fuel cycle technology at  SCC. The complex will include a fuel fabrication/refabrication module for the production of dense uranium-plutonium (nitride) fuel, and a fuel recycling unit. The start date for the construction of the Brest-OD-300 reactor has been postponed several times because of the need for additional testing of key reactor structural elements. RUB1.1 billion ($16.6m) was allocated for further R&D in 2017.

The Breakthrough project began in 2011. Construction of the fuel fabrication module for dense nitride fuel started in August 2014. The fuel fabrication facility was initially scheduled for completion by 2018, the reactor was expected to start up in 2020, and the fuel processing unit in 2022. The project has now been rescheduled with the fuel fabrication module now scheduled to for completion in 2021, the Brest reactor in 2026 and the recycling module in 2028. Fuel loading is due to begin in 2023, according to Rosatom’s Deputy Director General for Innovation Management, Vyacheslav Pershukov.

“The task for 2019 relates to the construction of the Brest reactor itself. The task for this year is to find a contractor and start work. We would very much like to start work in the summer. We understand that construction is scheduled to begin in 2019, and the facility should be commissioned in 2025-2026,” Nikipelova said. The construction of the fuel fabrication module is almost complete, and the installation of equipment has begun. It is planned to allocate about RUB3 billion for these purposes in 2019.

Pershukov said no further delay in the construction of the fuel fabrication module or the reactor is anticipated. The main technical issues have now been resolved, he insisted. The delay in the launch of the fuel recycling module is due to a temporary shortage of used nuclear fuel developed at Russian NPPs.   

Meanwhile, SCC in early March took SverdNIIkhimmash, a manufacturer of the equipment for the fuel fabrication module, to court, claiming RUB64.5 million in penalties for late delivery of equipment for the project. SCC appealed to the Arbitration Court of Tomsk Region for penalties against SverdNIIkhimmash for violating the terms of delivery of equipment under the contract for the development of design documentation, manufacturing, delivery, and installation of equipment for the fuel plant.

Photo: Schematic showing the BREST reactor (Credit: Rosatom)