BREST (credit: Rosatom)Russia’s Brest-OD-300 demonstration lead-cooled fast-neutron reactor unit under construction at the Siberian Chemical Combine (SCC) near the city of Seversk (near Tomsk) in Russia will not begin commercial operation before 2026, state nuclear corporation Rosatom said on 12 October.

However, the construction of on-site fuel fabrication for the pilot industrial power complex to support Brest is on schedule. The launch of the fuel fabrication module is scheduled for 2021,  Rosatom’s Deputy Director General for Innovation Management, Vyacheslav Pershukov, told reporters. “The construction is basically completed, and we are already starting to install technological equipment,” he said. The loading of fuel into the Brest reactor will begin in 2023, he added.

The Brest-OD-300 reactor plant with an on-site nuclear fuel cycle is part of an experimental demonstration power complex (ODEC) which comes under the  Breakthrough project for the development of closed fuel cycle technology at  SCC. The complex will include a fuel fabrication 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 additional R&D in 2017.
Pershukov said no further delay in the construction of the nuclear fuel fabrication module for the Brest-OD-300 reactor or for the reactor itself was 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.  Its launch has been postponed until 2028, explained Pershukov.

According to Evgeny Adamov, scientific director of the Breakthrough project, the fabrication plant, producing a mixed uranium-plutonium nitride fuel  will have a capacity of 14 tonnes a year.  This dense fuel will also be offered for use in other fast reactors, pending the startup of the Brest-300, he said.  

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