The first batch of mox fuel for the BN-800 was produced in 2018 (Photo credit: TVEL)Russia’s BN-800 fast reactor is on track to be fully fuelled with mixed uranium-plutonium oxide (mox) fuel in 2022.

“An important task this year was to load mox [mixed uranium-plutonium oxide] fuel into the BN-800 core, which will allow the uranium isotope, which …will increase the fuel base of nuclear power tenfold and make it practically waste-free, said Ivan Sidorov, director of Russia’s Beloyarsk nuclear power plant on 28 December. “Now the share of the ‘fuel of the future’ in the reactor is about 60%, and taking into account the planned rates, we will be able to switch to full loading with mox fuel already in 2022.”

Summing up the results of the year, Sidorov noted that 2021 was a fruitful year. Preparations for decommissioning continued at the first two shutdown units. At Beloyarsk 3 (a BN-600 fast reactor, which in 2021 exceeded target for generating electricity), work began to extend its service life until 2040. In 2021, the first measures were taken with respect to electrical equipment and in the turbine hall. At the unit 4 BN-800 fast reactor, large-scale preventive work was carried out to monitor the state of the metal of the sodium coolant pipelines. 

Sidorov noted that, by the end of 2021, the Beloyarsk NPP plans to generate more than 7.8TWh of electricity, which will avoid the emission of about four million tons of greenhouse gases in CO2 equivalent. The contribution of the Beloyarsk NPP to the total annual electricity generation by all power plants of the Sverdlovsk region (which not only fully provides its own power supply, but also supplies electricity to neighbouring regions) is about 16%.

In 2021, the Beloyarsk NPP invested RUB114 million ($1.5m) in charity. Most of the funds are directed to doctors combatting the coronavirus. The station's funds were used to purchase a computed tomography apparatus, as well as consumables for the medical unit in Zarechny: express tests, goggles and reusable suits, masks, respirators.

Under the agreement between Rosatom and the Government of the Sverdlovsk Region, the city of atomic scientists, Zarechny, was allocated RUB300 million, and received another RUB50 million for winning the “Best Municipal Formation” competition among nuclear cities. The funds were spent on landscaping, reconstruction of educational institutions, and the creation of sports infrastructure. Sidorov said. The NPP also continues the programme of annual stocking of fish in the Beloyarsk reservoir, which prevents algae bloom and the reproduction of molluscs. Over five years, one 1.5 million fry of various fish species, including the black and white grass carp, have been released into the reservoir.

The Beloyarsk NPP, which was commissioned in April 1964 currently has two operating units – Beloyarsk 3 with a BN-600 fast neutron reactor, which started up in 1980 and Beloyarsk 4 with a BN-800 fast reactor, which started up in 2015. These are the world's largest units with fast neutron reactors and the only ones operating on a commercial basis. Units 1 and 2 with the AMB-100 and AMB-200 supercritical water reactors were shut down in the 1980s. Unit 1 operated from 1964 to 1981 and unit 2 from 1967 to 1989.

Photo: The first batch of mox fuel for the BN-800 was produced in 2018 (Photo credit: TVEL)