India's Kudankulam nuclear power plantRussian fuel company TVEL will introduce new nuclear fuel and extended fuel cycle at India’s Kudankulam nuclear power plant.

“Everything we offer our Indian customers aims to produce economic benefits from the operation of the nuclear plants. The effect is achieved by increasing the mass of uranium in the TVS-2M fuel, reducing the amount of used nuclear fuel and increasing the duration of the fuel campaign from three years to four and a half years," said President TVEL Natalya Nikipelova.

TVEL and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) have signed a supplementary agreement to the nuclear fuel supply contract aimed at the implementation of a comprehensive engineering project: transfer of two operating power units of the Kudankulam NPP with VVER-1000 reactors to new TVS-2M fuel, as well as an increase in the fuel cycle from 12 to 18 months.

The implementation of the project includes the preparation of technical documentation for the justification and licensing of the new fuel by India’s Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, revision of the software for performing neutron-physical calculations, modernisation of the in-reactor control system (including the supply of SVRD equipment – assembly of in-reactor detectors), adjustment of the control system fuel loading equipment, and training of power plant personnel.

Compared to the UTVS fuel that is currently supplied to the Kudankulam NPP, the TVS-2M fuel assemblies have a number of advantages that make them more reliable and cost-effective. These include the rigidity of the structure: thanks to the welded frame, the fuel assemblies in the reactor core retain their geometry, the arrangement of the spacer grids protects the fuel element cladding from fretting wear, preventing their depressurisation, and the additional spacer grid makes the fuel assemblies more vibration-resistant. Secondly, uranium capacity is increased: one TVS-2M fuel assembly contains 7.6% more fuel than a UTVS assembly.

TVEL has already implemented similar projects to replace UTVS fuel with TVS-2M fuel at the Tianwan NPP in China.

Kudankulam is being constructed under a 1988 Russian-Indian agreement which was amended in 1998. The general contractor (in terms of detailed design, equipment supply and technical assistance) is Atomstroyexport, the general designer is Atomenergoproekt. Atomenergomash is a supplier of key equipment. Kudankulam is one of the largest nuclear power projects in India and is scheduled to have six Russian VVER-1000 reactors. Units 1 and 2 are in operation, units 3 and 4 are under construction and units 5 and 6 planned with preparatory works in progress.