Nuclear fuel to boost Leningrad

25 January 2010

Leningrad (Rosenergoatom)
The main entrance of Leningrad nuclear power plant
(Image: Rosenergoatom)

A major uprate program is planned for the Leningrad power plant that should result in an extra 200 MWe of nuclear generating capacity.


Three reactors at the power plant could benefit from a change to use uranium fuel at a higher level of enrichment. This will boost thermal power output, officials said, while and increasing safety and using less uranium.


The swap from fuel enriched to 2.4% uranium-235 to new rods with an average enrichment of 3% will boost thermal power output by 5%  - enough to yield 200 MWe in net output across the three reactors that could eventually use the new fuel.


The first batch of new fuel rods has been produced and delivered to the Leningrad plant. Measuring 3.65 metres long, they are enriched to 3.2% in the centre and 2.5% in the upper and lower portions. The rods include erbium to balance an increase in neutron flux within the reactor core. They should last eight to ten years.


Trial operation with the new fuel in Leningrad 2 was authorised by regulator Rostechnadzor in late 2009 and is expected to start soon. Subsequent operating data and experience will be reported back to Rostechnadzor, along with an application to amend the reactor's operating licence to make the change permanent. After this, the fuel could being use in Leningrad 3 and 4. Only unit 1 at the 3700 MWe power plant will be excluded because it does not share the same reactor control and protection systems.


Technical organisations including the Kurchatov Institute, Nikiet and Vnipiet took part in the drafting of these plans.


Leningrad nuclear power plant director Valery Lebedev emphasised the benefits the power boost would bring to the region, including related increases in tax payments to regional budgets.

Researched and written

by World Nuclear News