Power unit No. 4 of the Beloyarsk NPP with the BN-800 fast reactor has been connected to the grid and resumed operations upon completion of the scheduled maintenance. After the recent refueling, the BN-800 core, for the first time in history, has been fully loaded with uranium-plutonium MOX fuel.
The fuel assemblies were manufactured at the Mining and Chemical Combine (MCC, Zheleznogorsk, Krasnoyarsk region). 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 de-fluorination of depleted uranium hexafluoride (UF6), the so-called secondary tailings of uranium enrichment facilities.
The first serial batch of MOX fuel was loaded in the BN-800 core in January, 2020. A year later, the facility underwent the first full MOX refueling. Later, after the next two full MOX refuelings, all the uranium fuel bundles have been replaced with the innovative MOX fuel.
“Full conversion of the BN-800 to MOX fuel is a long-anticipated milestone for the nuclear industry. For the first time in history of the Russian nuclear power, we proceed to operation of a fast neutron reactor with a full load of uranium-plutonium fuel and closed nuclear fuel cycle. This is the original reason and target why the BN-800 was developed, and why Rosatom built the unique automated fuel fabrication facility at the Mining and Chemical Combine. Advanced technologies of fissile materials recycling and re-fabrication of nuclear fuel will make it possible to expand the resource feed-stock of the nuclear power, reprocess irradiated fuel instead of storing it, and to reduce the volumes of waste”, said Alexander Ugryumov, Senior Vice President for Research and Development at TVEL JSC.
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.
TVEL Fuel Company of Rosatom (the Fuel division of the State Corporation Rosatom) includes enterprises for the manufacture of nuclear fuel, conversion and enrichment of uranium, production of gas centrifuges, as well as research and design organizations. Being the only exclusive of nuclear fuel for Russian nuclear power plants, TVEL provides fuel to a total of 75 power reactors in 15 countries, research reactors in nine countries of the world, as well as transport reactors of the Russian nuclear fleet. Every sixth power reactor in the world is powered by TVEL fuel.
Rosatom's fuel division is the world's largest producer of enriched uranium, as well as the leader of the global market for stable isotopes. The Fuel Division is actively developing new businesses in the field of chemistry, metallurgy, energy storage technologies, 3D printing, digital products, as well as decommissioning of nuclear facilities. Rosatom's industry integrators for additive technologies and power storage systems have been created in the Fuel Company TVEL circuit. http://www.tvel.ru