Westinghouse ready to supply VVER-440 fuel

13 March 2018

A consortium led by Westinghouse Electric Company has completed an EU-funded project aimed at diversifying the supply of fuel to Russian-built VVER-440 reactors in Europe.

Westinghouse has been leading the project - known as European Supply of Safe Nuclear Fuel (ESSANUF) since September 2015. Its partners include: Slovak nuclear power plant research institute VUJE; NucleoCon of Slovakia; ÚJV Řež of the Czech Republic; Finland's Lappeenranta University of Technology; National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) of the UK; Ukraine's National Science Centre Kharkov Institute of Physics and Technology; the Institute for Transuranium Elements of the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission (JRC-ITU); and Enusa Industrias Avanzadas of Spain.

Westinghouse, Enusa and NNL have previously worked together to develop, license and manufacture Westinghouse VVER-440 fuel for the Loviisa nuclear power plant in Finland.

The ESSANUF project was funded by the European Union's Euratom Research and Training Programme (2014-2018), which forms part of the EU's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

In May 2017, the consortium approved the conceptual fuel design for the VVER-440 assemblies, which is an enhanced version of the fuel delivered to Loviisa plant from 2001-2007.

Westinghouse said yesterday the consortium has now developed a conceptual fuel design and determined how the manufacturing and supply chain can be re-established to fabricate and transport VVER-440 fuel assemblies. The consortium has also set up and verified the associated methods and methodology to be applied for the licensing and use of a new fuel design.

Aziz Dag, Westinghouse's vice president and managing director for Northern Europe, said: "This project has prepared us very well for manufacturing and delivery of VVER-440 fuel to European utilities, and thereby created a viable alternative to today's single source of fuel supply. Many of the countries in Eastern Europe rely heavily on nuclear energy, and strengthening their energy security is therefore strategically very important."

Five EU member states, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary and Slovakia, operate Russian reactors - four VVER-1000 and 14 VVER-440 type units - and are currently 100% dependent on Russia for nuclear fuel supply. These reactors provide up to 52% of the electricity supply in the member states concerned.

Westinghouse has fuel fabrication facilities in Sweden and the UK. Apart from Rosatom's fuel manufacturing subsidiary TVEL, Westinghouse is the only other fuel manufacturer for VVER-type reactors.

Westinghouse has been supplying VVER-1000 fuel to Ukraine since 2005, when the first lead test assemblies were delivered to unit 3 of the South Ukraine nuclear power plant.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News