Novovoronezh scientists will be the first to transfer a generation 3+ VVER-1200 reactor to an 18-month fuel cycle.

Rosenergoatom said that Novovoronezh 6 (also known Novovoronezh II-1 NPP) with a VVER-1200 reactor is to be operated in this way.

Since commissioning in 2016, Novovoronezh II-1 has operated on a 12-month fuel cycle. A transition to the 18-month fuel cycle is planned.

Work is underway to finalise the changes to the operational documentation and the relevant documents will be submitted for examination to regulator Rostekhnadzor.

Work in the extended fuel cycle will begin with the pilot operation, which will last about three years. Based on the results of the pilot operation, a decision will be made on the final transition to the 18-month fuel cycle.  

“As a result, the installed capacity utilisation factor of the unit will be increased and an increase in electricity generation will be obtained,” said Evgeny Golubev, Head of the Department of Nuclear Safety and Reliability at Novovoronezh Nuclear Power Plant.  

“Based on the experience of VVER-1000 serial power units, the total increase in production during operation in this mode is more than 11%. The introduction of the 18-month fuel cycle will allow for more stable and efficient operation of the equipment of the unit, increasing its safety.”

Fresh nuclear fuel for the extended cycle is produced by TVEL Fuel Company. Improved mechanical characteristics, increased enrichment of nuclear fuel, and the use of fuel elements with gadolinium will ensure the safe operation of the VVER-1200 reactor installation in long fuel cycles, said Rosenergoatom. 

A similar transition is planned for Novovoronezh 7 or Novovoronezh II-2.

Photo: Novovoronezh will be the first VVER-1200 to move to an 18-month fuel cycle (Credit: Rosenergoatom)