Isotope of Cooperation
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#264April 2023

Isotope of Cooperation

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Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrates Plant (part of Rosatom’s TVEL Fuel Company) will supply the Brazilian company Electronuclear with lithium-7 hydroxide for the cooling system of the Angra NPP reactors. The shipment expands cooperation between the Brazilian and Russian nuclear companies.

Isotope for membranes

Lithium-7 hydroxide (hereinafter lithium-7) is a light-colored, fine crystalline substance with an atomic fraction of lithium ranging from 99.95% to over 99.99% relative to the sum of lithium isotopes (depending on the specifications). Lithium-7 is added to the primary coolant of pressurized water reactors to adjust its chemistry. Lithium-7 is also the main component needed for the preparation of reactor-grade ion exchange membranes that are used to treat coolant for pressurized water reactors.

Bidding for a contract to supply lithium-7 was initiated by Rusatom International Network (RIN). Part of Rosatom, the company represents its interests in international markets. “This business opportunity came about thanks to our efforts aimed at promoting this product. We contacted Brazil’s nuclear operator Eletronuclear and presented our new product. After that, we were invited to compete in a supply tender with Euronuclear’s current suppliers. Well-coordinated teamwork between Rosatom Latin America and Rusatom International Network’s head office helped us win the contract,” Gonçalo Castillo, Business Development Manager at Rosatom Latin America, commented on the event. Over 100 kilograms of lithium-7 will be shipped to Brazil. The contract will be signed shortly, and the customer is expected to receive the shipment during this year.

“Rosatom is a leading player in the global market of lithium products and a reliable supplier. Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrates Plant has specialized in the production of lithium compounds for more than 60 years. Its advanced production facilities make it possible to achieve a high degree of chemical purity in accordance with customer requirements,” says Mikhail Metelkin, Director of Specialty Chemicals at TVEL.

Enriching cooperation

The supply of lithium-7 expands Rosatom’s cooperation with the Brazilian nuclear sector.

Last December, Internexco GmbH, a subsidiary of TENEX (part of Rosatom), signed a contract with the Brazilian state-run company Industrias Nucleares do Brasil (INB) to fully supply the Angra NPP with enriched uranium in 2023–2027.

The contract was awarded following an international public tender held in August 2022 and won by Internexco GmbH. This is Rosatom’s first long-term contract for the supply of enriched uranium products and a result of the agreement of intent concluded in 2019. The agreement provides for the implementation of joint projects in the nuclear fuel cycle segment.

In addition, the supply of lithium-7 expands cooperation in the segment of isotope products. It should be noted that the Russian nuclear corporation currently meets up to 50% of Brazil’s demand for medical isotopes and is one of the largest suppliers of isotope products for the country’s nuclear medicine.

Next steps

In September 2022, Rosatom signed a memorandum of understanding with the Brazilian holding company ENBPar. Acting through Eletronuclear, the company supervises the operation of the Angra Nuclear Power Plant and runs hydro power projects. It also plans to engage in uranium mining and nuclear fuel production.

The memorandum provides for the cooperation between ENBPar and Rosatom in the construction and operation of large and small nuclear power plants and the nuclear fuel cycle. In addition, the parties agreed on technology transfer to form a cluster of companies specializing in the provision of services and supplies of products for the nuclear industry, and to join efforts in operating, repairing and upgrading hydro power plants and raising public awareness. “We want to take advantage of Rosatom’s experience, learn more about the end-to-end production cycle in nuclear power and implement the best practices in Brazil,” said ENBPar President Ney Zanella dos Santos.

Rosatom and ENBPar continued their collaboration in November 2022. Speaking at the plenary session of Atomexpo, Ney Zanella dos Santos said that small modular reactors could be used extensively in Brazil’s remote regions. The country also plans to complete the third unit of the Angra NPP (commissioning is scheduled for 2027) and build new units. Brazil is expected to commission another 10 GW of nuclear capacity over the next 30 years.

“Eletronuclear also invited us to participate in a market study that will result in a tender for maintenance services for Angra 1 and Angra 2,” Gonçalo Castillo concluded.

Rusatom International Network represents Rosatom State Nuclear Energy Corporation abroad. Its network of 14 foreign regional centers, country offices and business representatives allows Russian nuclear industry enterprises to interact with partners around the world efficiently, meeting the highest standards of international activities of a modern technology leader.

TechSnabExport (TENEX) is a Rosatom company supplying nuclear fuel cycle goods and services. Its key activities are uranium production, international supplies of Russian uranium products, nuclear fuel cycle back-end services, and logistics. TENEX is also engaged in lithium mining and biofuel production.