The construction of a 300 megawatts (MW) nuclear power unit with an innovative lead coolant BREST-OD-300 fast reactor has begun at the site of the Siberian Chemical Combine (an enterprise of TVEL Fuel Company of ROSATOM) in Seversk, Russia’s Tomsk region.
“The nuclear power industry’s resource base will practically become inexhaustible thanks to the infinite reprocessing of nuclear fuel,” said Alexey Likhachev, Director General of ROSATOM. “At the same time, the future generations will be spared the problem of accumulating spent nuclear fuel. The successful implementation of this project will allow our country to become the world’s first owner of the nuclear power technology which fully meets the principles of sustainable development in terms of environment, accessibility, reliability and efficient use of resources. Today, we reaffirm our reputation as a leader in world progress in nuclear technologies, that offers humanity unique solutions aimed at improving people’s lives.”
“The implementation of the Breakthrough project embraces not just development of innovative reactors, but also the introduction of the new generation technologies of the nuclear fuel cycle,” added Natalia Nikipelova, President of Rosatom’s TVEL Fuel Company. “Firstly, this includes production of dense nitride MNUP fuel, which will ensure the efficient operation of a lead-cooled fast reactor and consist entirely of recycled nuclear materials such as plutonium and depleted uranium. Secondly, this means more efficient and economically attractive radiochemical technologies for the processing of irradiated fuel and waste management. Taken together, they will make the nuclear power of the future in fact renewable with a practically waste-free production chain.”
According to the planned timeline, the BREST-OD-300 reactor should start operating in 2026. A fuel production facility will be built by 2023 and the construction of an irradiated fuel reprocessing module is scheduled to start by 2024.
For the first time in history, a nuclear power plant powered by a fast reactor will be built alongside closed nuclear fuel cycle servicing enterprises on one site. The advantage of fast reactors is their ability to efficiently use the fuel cycle’s secondary byproducts (in particular, plutonium) for energy production. At the same time as having a high regeneration factor, fast reactors can produce more potential fuel than they consume and also burn out highly active transuranic elements (actinides).