Russia's MBIR gets construction licence

15 May 2015

Russian regulator Rostechnadzor has issued a construction licence for the multipurpose sodium-cooled fast neutron research reactor, or MBIR by its Russian acronym. The reactor complex will be located at the site of the Research Institute of Atomic Reactors (RIAR), in Dimitrovgrad.

MBIR impression 460 (NIIAR)
How the MBIR could appear (Image: NIIAR)

RIAR said on 8 May the licence, which is valid for ten years, is the last of the licences and permits required for construction work to start. RIAR is known as NIIAR in Russia.

The site licence was issued last July and in October the Volga Interregional Department for Supervision of Nuclear and Radiation Safety, a specialist commission of Rostechnadzor, completed its checks of information submitted as part of the licence application for building the nuclear research facility.

In November, Uralenergostroy was selected in an open tender as the general contractor for the MBIR construction project. Uralenergostroy is currently completing the BN-800 fast neutron reactor at the Beloyarsk nuclear power plant, which is in the Sverdlovsk region in central Russia. Also known as Beloyarsk 4, the BN-800 sodium-cooled fast neutron reactor achieved first criticality in June 2014, but has not yet started commercial operation.

Preparatory work at the MBIR site will culminate this summer with the pouring of concrete for the foundation of the main building that will house the reactor.

"The start of construction of MBIR, the most powerful of all the existing, planned and under construction fast research reactors in the world, ahead of the upcoming 60th anniversary of RIAR, marks a new chapter in the history of our institute, the largest research and development centre that implements the full range of reactor and post-irradiation studies," MBIR project director Alexander Tuzov said in the 8 May statement.

MBIR will replace RIAR's BOR-60, which is the world's only fast research reactor in operation. Commissioned in 1969, BOR-60 is "fully contracted till the end of its lifetime in December 2020," Tuzov said in September, adding that long-term irradiation tests in process with BOR-60 will be transferred to MBIR.

RIAR confirmed in the latest statement that MBIR is scheduled for commissioning in 2020.

Tuzov, together with Rosatom deputy director general Vyacheslav Pershukov, discussed the opportunity of an MBIR 'members club'. They presented the idea at the International Atomic Energy Agency's General Conference in Vienna in September.

Rosatom wants a consortium, or club, of reactor users to assist with equipping the complex, as well as defining and managing its research program. In return, they will gain access to a wide range of facilities available at the RIAR site.

The price of an "admission ticket", Tuzov said, is calculated as a percentage of MBIR's flux, with $10 million buying 1% of access to the project. That 1% will be equal to 12 displacements per atom with a volume of one cubic decimeter each year for 20 years. From 2020 the fee will rise to $36 million.

"In the absence of an open market indicator for fast research reactor services, we see this as a good option to involve users of the centre as investors at an early stage in order to equip the reactor from the start in accordance with the users' needs and to adequately adapt it to particular research programs," Tuzov said.

Researched and written
By World Nuclear News