Russia starts installing MBIR control assembly

16 January 2019

The Volgodonsk branch of AEM Technology has completed the first stage of installation of the control assembly of the MBIR multipurpose sodium-cooled fast neutron research reactor. MBIR is under construction at the site of the Research Institute of Atomic Reactors (NIIAR) at Dmitrovgrad, which is in Russia's Ulyanovsk region.

MBIR fast reactor under construction in Russia (Image: Rosatom)

Vyacheslav Pershukov, Rosatom's special representative for international and scientific projects, witnessed the milestone, which AEM Technology, a subsidiary of Rosatom's Atomenergomash, announced today.

"This is unique equipment, a unique enterprise, and Atommash is of course up to the task," Pershukov said. "The task is quite complex for the whole of Rosatom owing to the large volume of international orders. Its uniqueness means MBIR is not a priority for us from the commerce perspective, but rather from the reputation perspective," he said.

Andrey Nikipelov, general director of Atomenergomash, noted the thinness of the MBIR casing - 25-50 mm - with a diameter of 4 metres, which contrasts with that of a VVER-1200 reactor which is 300 mm. This means it is challenging to alter the equipment geometry during processing. he said.

The MBIR project will next involve hydrotesting and the assembly of a protective casing. Then the second stage of the control assembly installation will be completed with all the internal components.

Igor Kotov, general director of AEM Technology said: "You could say that, at our site today, a new page has been written in the history of nuclear energy. MBIR is a fundamentally new product and all the operations the AEM Technology team is carrying out are being carried out for the first time."

Atomenergomash is the main equipment supplier of the MBIR reactor. Its Volgodonsk branch is manufacturing 14 products, including housing elements and supporting structures.

The MBIR is a 150 MWt, sodium-cooled fast reactor and will have a design life of up to 50 years. It will be a multi-loop research reactor capable of testing lead, lead-bismuth and gas coolants, and running on MOX (mixed uranium and plutonium oxide) fuel. NIIAR intends to set up on-site closed fuel cycle facilities for the MBIR, using pyrochemical reprocessing it has developed at pilot scale.

The MBIR project is to be open to foreign collaboration, in connection with the International Atomic Energy Agency's International Project on Innovative Nuclear Reactors and Fuel Cycles (INPRO).

The MBIR will replace the BOR-60 experimental fast reactor that started operations at NIIAR's site in 1969.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News