MOSCOW, Sep 23 — PRIME. The fast neutron reactor BN-800 of power unit No. 4 of the Beloyarsk NPP in the Sverdlovsk region was brought to full capacity for the first time, being fully loaded with innovative mixed oxide uranium-plutonium MOX fuel, for which this installation was created as part of the development of nuclear energy technologies of the future, Rosatom State Corporation reported.
“The BN-800 reactor has reached 100% capacity. It has successfully passed the stage of technological transition to innovative fuel and is ready to bear the full load,” the message says in the official Telegram channel of Rosatom.
The BN-800 reactor began operating entirely on MOX fuel on 9 September.
Rosatom is mastering the technologies necessary for the transition to a competitive two-component energy system based on a closed nuclear fuel cycle (CFFC). The idea is to “pair” the operation of traditional pressurized water reactors with fast neutron reactors, as well as to solve other problems that have accumulated in the industry.
Thanks to the CNFC, the reproduction of nuclear “fuel”, plutonium, is expanding, and the fuel base of nuclear energy is significantly increasing, eliminating the need to extract natural uranium in large volumes. It will also be possible to reduce the amount and biological hazard of radioactive waste remaining after the processing of spent nuclear fuel – the most dangerous radionuclides (the so-called minor actinides) are planned to be “burned out” in fast neutron reactors. In this way it will be possible, as nuclear scientists figuratively say, to “take out two key thorns” in the current nuclear power industry, connected with the limited reserves of natural uranium and the deferred problem of spent nuclear fuel.
Unit No. 4 of the Beloyarsk NPP with the BN-800 fast neutron reactor with sodium liquid metal coolant, which began commercial operation in 2016, is necessary for testing a number of technologies for closing the nuclear fuel cycle, and, above all, for demonstrating operation on a mixed oxide uranium-plutonium MOX fuel (from English mixed-oxide fuel).
The initial fuel load of the BN-800 reactor was formed mainly from traditional uranium oxide fuel. At the same time, part of the fuel assemblies contained MOX fuel manufactured at the pilot plants of two Rosatom enterprises – Mayak (Ozersk, Chelyabinsk Region) and the Research Institute of Atomic Reactors (NIIAR, Dimitrovgrad, Ulyanovsk Region). Then the BN-800 reactor was gradually transferred to a full load of MOX fuel, the industrial production of which operates at the Rosatom enterprise “Mining and Chemical Combine” (GCC, Zheleznogorsk, Krasnoyarsk Territory).
The first serial fuel assemblies with MOX fuel were loaded into the BN-800 core in January 2020.