The second reactor at Russia's Volgodonsk nuclear power plant has been brought to the minimum controlled power level, moving it a step closer to starting commercial operation.
The start up procedure of Volgodonsk 2 began on 19 December, with the loading of 163 fuel assemblies into its core completed on 24 December 2009. Operation of the reactor began on the morning of 21 January and it reached the minimum controlled power level the following day.
|The delivery of Volgodonsk 2's reactor
pressure vessel in December 2007
The V-320 type VVER pressurized water reactor will now be operated at this level for 12 days, in accordance with regulations. During this time, engineers will measure the reactor core characteristics to confirm compliance with design parameters and to ensure the correct functioning of reactor control and protection systems.
The tests at the minimum controlled power level will be followed by the final stage of first criticality activities, when the reactor power will be raised to 1% of capacity. Engineers will then start the first power program, which will take about two months to gradually raise power to 35% capacity. When this power level is reached, the unit will be connected to the grid. Full commercial production is due to start in October.
Construction of Volgodonsk 1, also a V-320 type VVER, began in 1978 and finally began operating in March 2001. Construction started on unit 2 in 1983, but was halted in the late 1990s, resuming in 2002. However, progress was slow until the project was kick-started again in 2007 as part of a major Russian initiative to maximise domestic nuclear power production in order to maximise the value of gas reserves.
Volgodonsk Units 3 and 4 were both ordered in 1983. These are now to be larger VVER-1200 types. Construction of unit 3 began again in late 2009, with commercial operation set for 2013. Unit 4 is scheduled to start commercial operation in 2014.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News