Tianwan fuel fabrication moves to China

02 March 2010

Russian nuclear fuel producer TVEL will this month ship the final batch of fuel for use in units 1 and 2 of the Tianwan nuclear power plant in China. Fuel for the plant will subsequently be produced in China.


Tianwan (ASE)
Tianwan (Image: ASE)
TVEL and Jiangsu Nuclear Power Corporation (JNPC) signed a contract in December 1997 for the supply of fuel for the initial core loading of Tianwan 1 and 2, as well as three subsequent reloads for each unit. Since signing the contract, TVEL has produced 638 fuel assemblies for the two VVER-1000 pressurized water reactors (PWRs) at Tianwan. During this time, Chinese representatives have made more than 40 audits and acceptance inspections on the fuel manufactured by NCCP.


A group of representatives from JNPC visited TVEL's Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrates Plant (NCCP) in late February for acceptance inspections of a consignment of UTVS fuel assemblies for the third reload of Tianwan unit 2. The fuel will be shipped to China later in March.


Future fuel for the Tianwan units will be produced at China National Nuclear Corporation's (CNNC's) main PWR fuel fabrication plant at Yibin, Sichuan province, using technology transferred from TVEL under the fuel supply contract. To enable the manufacture fuel for the fourth reloads of the units, TVEL signed a contract in 2009 with China Nuclear Energy Industry Corporation (CNEIC), an international trading company directly owned by CNNC and authorized to carry out import and export trade of uranium products, nuclear fuel cycle and nuclear power and technology equipment. It subsequently supplied CNNC with billets for use in producing fuel assemblies. Production of UTVS fuel at the Yibin plant will start once the plant has been qualified.


Tianwan Phase I at Lianyungang city in Jiangsu province was constructed under a cooperation agreement between China and Russia - the largest such project ever. The cost is reported to be $3.2 billion, with China contributing $1.8 billion of this. The first unit was grid connected in May 2006 and put into commercial operation in June 2007. The second was grid connected in May 2007, with commercial operation in August 2007. AtomStroyExport (ASE) built both Tianwan power units, and signed a contract in October 2006 to construct two more at the site (Phase II). Construction is expected to start in October 2010.


NCCP's deputy director general for quality Konstantin Grabelnikov said that the experience at the Tianwan plant was one of the best indicators of fuel performance, with no fuel failures during five reactor-years of operation at the units, including three fuel campaigns. He said, "With Chinese experts we have done a very good job, and with the transition to new fuels, the fuel efficiency of the reactors will only improve."


TVEL said that it is in talks to continue and expand its cooperation with China.


Researched and written

by World Nuclear News