Industrias Nucleares do Brasil (INB) has signed a five-year conversion services contract with Areva of France. The contract will help INB supply fuel to Brazil's sole nuclear power plant at Angra as conversion is the only front-end stage not present in Brazil.
Under the contract, Areva will be responsible for converting 2520 tonnes of uranium concentrate over the five-year period. INB said that the contract was awarded following an international tender and will help it to supply fuel to the existing Angra units 1 and 2, as well as the third unit of the plant, due to begin commercial operation in 2015.
INB commented, "This contract strengthens even more the relationship between our two companies and confirms the proximity between Brazil and France. The next five years working together will surely open new opportunities for both parties."
Areva said, "For both parties, the contract is a clear opportunity to increase cooperation, and could potentially lead to a more comprehensive partnership in the field of nuclear fuel cycle."
Uranium used to fuel Brazil's nuclear power reactors has previously been sent as uranium concentrate to Cameco in Canada to be converted into uranium hexafluoride (UF6) gas, which was then sent to Urenco's enrichment plants in Europe. After enrichment, the gas was returned to Brazil for INB to reconvert the UF6 gas to powder, which is then used to produce nuclear fuel pellets.
However, INB has begun operating a uranium enrichment plant at Resende. Stage 1 - eventually to be four modules totalling 115,000 SWU per year and costing $170 million - was officially opened in 2006. Each module consists of four or five cascades of 5000-6000 SWU per year. Early in 2009, it was announced that INB would begin full operation of the Resende plant in May 2009. The full stage 1 plant is expected to produce 60% of the fuel needs for Angra units 1 and 2 by 2012. Stage 2 will take capacity to 200,000 SWU. The centrifuges are domestically-developed and very similar to Urenco technology.
INB's fuel fabrication plant, designed by Siemens, is also at Resende, with capacity of 160 tonnes per year pellet production and 280 tonnes per year fuel assembly production.
Conversion is the only step in the front-end of the nuclear fuel cycle currently not performed domestically by Brazil.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News