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« China sets sights on new global export: nuclear energy | Main | Nuclear power divides California’s environmentalists »

As world retreats from nuclear power, Russia pushes fast reactors

New units said safer, less radioactive waste

By New Europe Online/KG

In August, a Russia prototype – BN-800 nuclear power reactor started to work at 100% capacity for the first time while an innovative Russian Generation III+ reactor has been connected to the national grid.

On August 17, Unit 4 of the Beloyarsk nuclear power plant with BN-800 fast neutron reactor, which should become the most powerful prototype of the commercial reactors of this type, started operating at 100% power for the first time, State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom said in a press release. Thus begins the procedure of comprehensive testing of the unit at its rated power.

This procedure is a major and final condition in preparation for the delivery of power in commercial operation. During the 15-day comprehensive test the unit will have to confirm that it is able to consistently run at the rated power load in accordance with the design parameters, without deviation.

On completion of the comprehensive test, Rosenergoatom is required to obtain permission from the Russian nuclear regulator, Rostechnadzor, to operate the reactor commercially.

The BN-800 fast neutron reactor is scheduled to enter commercial operation later in fall 2016.

According to experts, the power units with fast neutron reactors have great advantages for the development of nuclear energy. With its help it is possible to significantly expand the fuel base of the nuclear energy and to reduce the volume of radioactive waste through the implementation of a closed nuclear fuel cycle.

Meanwhile, on August 5, an innovative Russian Generation III+ nuclear reactor that meets all the post-Fukushima requirements, including passive safety systems, which are able to function even in case of the plant blackout and without operator’s intervention, has been connected to the national grid and produced first 240 MW of electricity.

Rosatom said that on August 5 that 03 hours 35 minutes (MSK) one of the most important and critical operations at the stage of the first power was carried out at Unit 6’s VVER-1200, i.e. the first trial switching of the generator to the grid was successfully made.

This was preceded by the turbine start from the rest (approach to planned spin up in idling mode of the turbine generator’s rotor) and its trial in idling.

“This event is our great victory, which crowns a huge amount of work in installation and adjustment of equipment, and complex process operations. It can be stated that all works were done reliably and safely. The operating personnel clearly understands the process, equipment operates safety and reliably,” Rosenergoatom General Director Andrey Petrov said.

The innovative power units of Generation III+ possess improved performance parameters. They are absolutely safe in operation and fully meet the International Atomic Energy Agency’s post-Fukushima requirements. Their feature is a large number of passive safety systems, which are able to function even in case of the plant blackout and without operator’s intervention. So Unit 6 of Novovoronezh NPP uses passive heat removal system from the reactor, hydrogen recombiners and core catcher, which are unique and have no similarities worldwide, Rosatom said.

At present, Generation III+ power units are built in the United States and France. Unit 6 of Novovoronezh NPP, however, has become the first nuclear power unit in the world pertaining to the new generation that approached the first power.

Novovoronezh NPP is the first commercial nuclear power plant in the world with water-cooled and water-moderated (VVER) reactors.

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