Construction licence for first new-generation Russian fast reactor

Russian regulator Rostechnadzor has issued a construction licence to Siberian Chemical Combine at Seversk for a lead-cooled fast neutron reactor, the BREST OD-300. This is a new-generation fast reactor which supersedes Russia’s established sodium-cooled BN fast reactor designs and represents a major step forward in nuclear power technology. Lead cooling enables greater utilisation of minor actinides from recycled fuel than in BN reactors.
Plans have evolved since 2010 and in 2012 Rosatom announced that a pilot demonstration BREST-300 fast reactor with associated fuel cycle facilities would be built at the Siberian Chemical Combine at Seversk, near Tomsk, 3500 km east of Moscow. The SCC is a subsidiary of TVEL, the nuclear fuel manufacturing subsidiary of Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom. The whole project comprises three phases: a mixed uranium-plutonium nitride fuel fabrication/re-fabrication module; a nuclear power plant with BREST OD-300 reactor; and a used nuclear fuel reprocessing module. It is known as the pilot demonstration energy complex (PDEC) and is a key part of Rosatom’s high-priority ‘Proryv’ (Breakthrough) project to create a new generation of nuclear power technologies on the basis of a closed nuclear fuel cycle using fast neutron reactors. On this basis Rosatom envisages nuclear power providing 45-50% of Russia’s electricity by 2050, rising to 70-80% by the end of the century.
Rostechnadzor issued a licence in 2014 for the fuel fabrication module for dense mixed uranium-plutonium nitride nuclear fuel. The government then in 2016 ordered construction of the reactor by 2025, but Rosatom has since announced that it would not begin commercial operation before 2026. It will be built by Titan-2 engineering. Proceeding with the project depended on successful testing of the nitride fuel in the BN-600 reactor from the end of 2013. If BREST is successful as a 300 MWe unit, a 1200 MWe version will follow.
A related facility is the multi-purpose fast neutron research reactor, MBIR. This is a 150 MWt multi-loop reactor under construction since 2015 at the Research Institute for Atomic Reactors at Dimitrovgrad, about 800 km east of Moscow. It will be capable of testing lead or lead-bismuth and gas coolants as well as sodium, simultaneously in three parallel outside loops. Initially it will have sodium coolant and will run on MOX fuel with high plutonium content. Completion was expected in 2020, but the project was paused after starting construction and commissioning is now expected in 2028. It is to be part of an international research centre at RIAR’s site, with the project open to foreign participation in connection with the International Atomic Energy Agency’s International Project on Innovative Nuclear Reactors and Fuel Cycles (INPRO). MBIR will replace the old BOR-60 fast reactor at the site which has been widely used by international researchers since 1969.
WNN 16/1/19, 11/2/21.   Russia NP