Russia tests advanced nuclear fuel equipment

09 February 2017

The AA Bochvar Research Institute of Inorganic Materials (VNIINM) has announced further progress in Russia's endeavour to close the nuclear fuel cycle. A subsidiary of nuclear fuel manufacturer TVEL, VNIINM said yesterday it had completed three state-sponsored contracts for the 'Proryv', or Breakthrough, project.

These are: processing irradiated uranium-plutonium mixed nitride fuel; treatment of subsequent radioactive waste; and mathematical modelling of technological processes for the fabrication of nuclear fuel, its reprocessing and the management of radioactive waste for advanced fast reactors.

Siberian Chemical Combine (SCC), another TVEL subsidiary, last year designed a stand for the development of technology to refine the manufacture nuclear fuel. A fabrication and recycling facility is planned for the pilot demonstration power complex (ODEK), which is to be built at SCC as part of the Breakthrough project. The stand was first tested with plutonium and neptunium. 

The stand includes an extraction-crystallization separation module for processing used nuclear fuel to examine technologies VNIINM and the VG Khlopin Radium Institute have developed. Experiments using the stand will help inform the design of ODEK. The stand, which is now operational, also includes automatic control and management of process equipment with remote monitoring.

VNIINM said yesterday its experiments had confirmed for the first time that the technology used for the reprocessing of used uranium-plutonium mixed nitride fuel enables the reuse of more than 99.9% of the actinides.

Vladimir Kashcheev, VNIINM director, said the stand had enabled experiments originally on "model-based solutions" to be carried out using full-scale equipment, as well as identified further research to be conducted this year and next.

"The work carried out to date using SCC and VNIINM technology has proved that previous calculations and laboratory tests were accurate, and that the required depth of extraction of uranium and transuranic elements is achievable," Kashcheev said.

Mashinostroitelny Zavod (MSZ), another unit of TVEL, said last August it had completed acceptance tests of components for its ETVS-14 and ETVS-15 experimental fuel assemblies with mixed nitride fuel for the BREST and BN fast neutron reactors - also part of the Breakthrough project. MSZ also announced the start of research and development work on the technical design of the "absorbent element" of the core of the BREST-OD-300 lead-cooled fast reactor. ETVS-16 to 21 are scheduled for 2017 production by SCC for VNIINM.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News