BN-600 reactor at Beloyarsk aims for further life extension

07 March 2024

Rosenergoatom is to seek approval to extend the life of the BN-600 fast neutron reactor following an inspection of the condition of the reactor vessel, heat exchanger supports and other equipment.

(Image: Rosenergoatom)

Russian nuclear regulator Rostekhnadzor extended the operating licence for the fast reactor - unit 3 of the Beloyarsk nuclear power plant in the Sverdlovsk district - by a further five years in 2020. The unit began operating in 1981 and a large-scale modernisation programme had been under way from 2009 before the first extension. At the time, in 2020, Rosenergoatom said further investment work would be completed by 2024 to allow for a licence extension to 2040.

It has since completed a number of important upgrades to the safety of buildings, structures, and systems, including replacement of steam generator modules and pumping units and the aim is to submit documents to Rostekhnadzor this month, with an expectation of them being checked within a year and a decision made about a new licence.

Rosenergoatom Director General Alexander Shutikov said: "Power unit No.3 is strategically important for us. It tests technical solutions for future fast reactors - we irradiate fuel elements there both for the BREST-OD-300 reactor plant (a fast reactor with lead coolant, which is currently being built in Seversk), and for the BN-1200, which is planned to be introduced at the Beloyarsk nuclear power plant."

Director of the Beloyarsk plant, Ivan Sidorov, said that in the next two scheduled maintenance rounds "we will replace the remaining steam generator modules and feed pumps, and modernise the diesel generator sets. This work will allow us to safely and efficiently generate electricity for the residents of the Sverdlovsk region for many years".

Rosenergoatom, which is part of Rosatom, says that extending the life of the unit could allow the generation of an additional 60 billion kWh of electricity. The sodium-cooled BN-series fast reactors are part of Rosatom's Proryv, or 'Breakthrough', project to develop fast reactors with a closed fuel cycle whose mixed oxide (MOX) fuel will be reprocessed and recycled. In addition to the BN-600 reactor, the 789 MWe BN-800 fast neutron reactor - constructed as Beloyarsk unit 4 - entered commercial operation in October 2016. This is essentially a demonstration unit for fuel and design features for the larger BN-1200 being planned for the same plant.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News