The Mining and Chemical Combine in Zheleznogorsk, Krasnoyarsk region (East Siberia) has manufactured the first full reload batch of fresh uranium-plutonium MOX fuel for BN-800 fast reactor, operated at Beloyarsk NPP. The 169 fuel assemblies have been accepted by Rosenergoatom, the operator of Russian NPPs, and its authorized representative VPO ZAES, which has confirmed the consignment is ready for shipment.
TVEL Fuel Company of Rosatom will supply the fresh MOX fuel for the Beloyarsk NPP in Zarechny, Sverdlovsk region in the Urals, providing the shipments till the end of 2020. The refueling at BN-800 is scheduled for January, 2021.
The BN-800 reactor was initially launched with a hybrid core, partially loaded with uranium fuel produced by Elemash, TVEL’s fabrication facility in Elektrostal (Moscow region), and partially with experimental MOX fuel bundles manufactured at the Research Institute of Atomic Reactors in Dimitrovgrad, Ulyanovsk region (NIIAR). The first serial batch of 18 MOX fuel assemblies was loaded into BN-800 core in late 2019, and the rest of the fresh fuel were bundles with enriched uranium (in January, 2020, after an overhaul, the Beloyarsk NPP unit 4 successfully resumed operation).
“Starting from the nearest refueling, the BN-800 core will be loaded with fresh MOX fuel. At the same time, TVEL together with the Mining and Chemical Combine, keep on further development of MOX fuel fabrication technology”, commented Alexander Ugryumov, Vice-President for Research and Development at TVEL.
The shift to the full load of BN-800 core with MOX fuel is scheduled for early 2022. Distinct from traditional nuclear fuel with enriched uranium, MOX fuel pellets are based on the mix of nuclear fuel cycle derivatives, such as oxide of plutonium bred in commercial reactors, and oxide of depleted uranium which comes from defluorination of depleted uranium hexafluoride (UF6), the so-called secondary tailings of uranium enrichment facilities.
Rosatom strategy is aimed at building-up the dual-component nuclear power system with both thermal neutron and fast neutron reactors, and closing nuclear fuel cycle, which would solve a number of highly important tasks. First, exponentially boost the feedstock for nuclear power plants. Second, enable to recycle spent nuclear fuel instead of storage. And third, once again involve into nuclear fuel cycle and utilize the accumulated ground stocks of depleted uranium hexafluoride. Besides, development of recycling technologies in the Russian nuclear power industry fully complies with the UN Sustainable Development Goal “Responsible Consumption and Production”.
Serial batch-production of MOX fuel started in late 2018 at the site of the Mining and Chemical Combine. The launch of this unique highly automatized fabrication shop-floor had been provided due to the broad cooperation of Russian nuclear industry enterprises with the coordination role of TVEL Fuel Company, which is also the official supplier of the MOX fuel to Beloyarsk NPP.