The Atomic Reactors Research Institute (located in Dimitrovgrad 10, Ulyanovsk Oblast, Russia) has launched a chemical technology complex on an experimental basis to make uranium-plutonium fuel for fast reactors, Russian mass media report. The division is now implementing a program to make mixed uranium plutonium fuel for the initial charge of a BN-800 reactor, which is being built at the Beloyarsk Nuclear Power Plant site.
To be able to manufacture the fuel, the research institute has replaced outdated equipment with new-generation equipment within the framework of the federal program New-Generation Nuclear Technologies. The total cost of the equipment and the construction and installation work was about RUB2 billion.
“It took about 30 years to develop these technologies. In the future we will use this equipment to fulfill orders,” explained Vladislav Kisly, Director of the Chemical Technology Division of the Atomic Reactors Research Institute. “Actually we are the only producer of uranium-plutonium fuel. The next similar enterprise can be created by the mining and chemical factory in Krasnoyarsk closer to the year 2015”.
Multifunctional fast research reactors minimize waste because the reactors allow re-using fuel many times over. There are plans to make about 1.5 tonnes of uranium-plutonium fuel per annum. “Fast reactors allow recovering the recoverable part from the fuel that has been used in a reactor already,” said Galina Pavloa, Head of the Press Service of the Institute. “The recoverable part can be reused later on. Besides, in our time we and Americans had an excessive amount of nuclear weapons. Plutonium was part of those weapons and it can be used to make fuel for fast reactors. Fast reactors burn fuel and the remains can be reused once again. Many times over. There is waste but it is minimal. It is stored deep under the surface of the Earth. Using as much of the fuel as possible is the task the entire nuclear power engineering industry has to fulfill”.