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The 1st serial batch of MOX fuel loaded into BN-800 fast reactor at Beloyarsk NPP

The 1st serial batch of MOX fuel loaded into BN-800 fast reactor at Beloyarsk NPP

Ekaterinburg, January 29 - Neftegaz.RU. BN-800, the world’s most powerful operational fast neutron reactor at Unit 4 of Beloyarsk NPP in Russia, has been loaded with the first serial batch of MOX fuel made of depleted uranium and plutonium oxides. After an overhaul, the power unit has successfully resumed operation.

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 is derived by defluorination of depleted uranium hexafluoride (UF6), the so-called secondary tailings of uranium enrichment facilities.

The power plant engineers have loaded eighteen MOX fuel assemblies at the BN-800 reactor core, while in 2020, Rosenergoatom and TVEL are planning to load another batch of 180 fuel assemblies. By the end of 2021, ROSATOM is committed to replace all remaining uranium-based fuel assemblies in the core with MOX fuel. Thus, for the 1st time in Russian history, a fast neutron reactor would start operations with a full load of MOX fuel only.

“ROSATOM strategy is aimed at 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. 1st, this would exponentially boost the feedstock for nuclear power plants. 2nd, this would enable to recycle spent nuclear fuel instead of storage. And 3rd, we once again involve into nuclear fuel cycle and utilize the accumulated ground stocks of depleted uranium hexafluoride and plutonium”, commented Vitaly Khadeev, VP for Development of Closed Nuclear Fuel Cycle Technologies and Industrial Facilities at TVEL.

Director of Beloyarsk NPP Ivan Sidorov emphasized: “At power unit № 4, we have carried out the 1st general overhaul in 4 years of its operation. This power unit has 2 tasks, not only to produce electricity, but also to master a promising technology that is important for the future of nuclear power. The works performed during the overhaul are aimed to ensure the long-term safe operation of the whole power unit and the reliability of equipment.”

Serial batch-production of MOX fuel started in late 2018, at the site of Mining and Chemical Combine in Zheleznogorsk, Krasnoyarsk region (East Siberia). 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, which is also the official supplier of the MOX fuel to Beloyarsk NPP.

To read the article in Russian.