Rosatom to convert fast reactor to MOX fuel in 2022

10 June 2020

Unit 4 of the Beloyarsk nuclear power plant in Russia will be completely switched to uranium-plutonium MOX fuel in 2022, marking an important step towards closing the nuclear fuel cycle, Russia’s Rosatom has announced.

The BN-800 at Beloyarsk 4 (Image: Rosatom)

The 789 MWe BN-800 fast neutron reactor is currently fuelled by a 'hybrid core' - a mix of uranium and plutonium oxides arranged to produce new fuel material as it burns. The transition to MOX fuel assemblies will start in the first half of next year.

"The BN-800 reactor is to be switched from a hybrid core to a core with a full load of fuel assemblies with MOX fuel, which are being produced for us by the Mining and Chemical Combine in the Krasnoyarsk Territory and comprise uranium dioxide and plutonium dioxide in the form of pellets to be used as fuel," Vladimir Shaloumov, head of nuclear safety and reliability at Beloyarsk NPP, said.

"The BN-800 reactor, according to its design, is focused on the use of MOX fuel as one of the stages on domestic nuclear energy's path to the development of a closed nuclear fuel cycle," he added.

A closed nuclear fuel cycle will allow the creation of 'twin-component' nuclear energy, Rosatom said, "with simultaneous operation of fast and thermal neutron reactors". It added that this will "expand the fuel base of nuclear energy many times over, involving the uranium-238 isotope, ensuring the reuse of used nuclear fuel and minimising radioactive waste".

Beloyarsk 4's capacity exceeds that of the world's second most powerful fast reactor - the 560 MWe BN-600 Beloyarsk 3.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News