Rosatom’s TVEL Fuel Company supplied fuel for the China Experimental Fast Reactor.
TVEL supplied a batch of nuclear fuel for the China Experimental Fast Reactor (CEFR). Fuel assemblies were manufactured at Elemash (Moscow Region), the world’s only producer of uranium fuel for fast neutron power reactors. These deliveries are a part of the Russian-Chinese umbrella program for cooperation in the fast reactor technology development.
“TVEL considers cooperation with its Chinese partners to be strategic and large-scale. We supply fuel for VVER-1000 reactors at Tianwan. We have also organized local production of nuclear fuel for VVER-1000 reactors at Yibin Plant and export Russian components there. At the same time, we are also working on fuel supply contracts for VVER-1200 reactors to be built by Rosatom in China. Cooperation in the fast reactor technology, including fuel management, is of strategic importance as it focuses on the development of a two-component (combining thermal neutron and fast neutron reactors – RN) nuclear power industry of the future,” Oleg Grigoriev, Senior Vice President for Commerce and International Business at TVEL commented.
China launched its fast reactor research and development program in 1964, with Russia’s support. The first 65MW China Experimental Fast Reactor (CEFR) was brought online in 2011. The reactor was manufactured at OKBM Afrikantov in cooperation with OKB Gidropress, Dollezhal Research and Development Institute of Power Engineering (both of Rosatom Group companies), and Kurchatov Institute. The CEFR design is based on the Russian-designed BN-600 fast reactor.
While the engineering design of China’s first fast reactor was developed in Russia, China designed buildings and manufactured general-purpose equipment. Although CEFR is used as a research reactor, it is also connected to a 20 MW power unit and supplies power to the grid. For this reason, it is considered by the IAEA to be the only fast power reactor operating outside Russia.
CFR-600 is China’s new 600 MW fast reactor under construction in Xiapu County, Fujian Province. It is a Generation IV demonstration project launched by China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) in December 2017. The new reactor is a logical continuation of the CEFR Project. In early 2019, a contract for the supply of fuel for CFR-600 between TVEL and CNLY (a CNNC subsidiary) came into effect. Fuel for CFR-600 will also be manufactured at Elemash where a new production line will be installed. CFR-600 will first use mixed oxide (MOX) fuel and later migrate to metallic fuel with a higher reproduction factor. Both the operating CEFR and the under-construction CFR-600 are designed to use MOX fuel that is not produced in China.
The development of fast reactor technology speeds up the transition to a closed nuclear fuel cycle and supports more efficient consumption of uranium reserves. This is a crucial matter for China’s fast developing economy as the country faces a growing demand for electric power.
BN-600 is a Russian-designed sodium-cooled fast power reactor operating at Unit 3 of the Beloyarsk Nuclear Power Plant (Sverdlovsk Region, central Russia). The reactor was commissioned in April 1980 and is capable of generating 600 MW of electric power. From the shutdown of the Phoenix reactor in France in 2009 until the startup of BN-800 (mid-2014), BN-600 was the world’s only fast power reactor in operation.
BN-800 is a Russian-designed sodium-cooled fast neutron reactor designed to refine the MOX-based fast breeder technology. The first and only reactor of this type operates at Unit 4 of the Beloyarsk NPP. The reactor went critical on December 10, 2015 and was brought online on November 1, 2016. Its electric power capacity is 880 MW.