December 14, 2015

Russia connects commercial 800 Megawatt fast neutron reactor to the grid

Unit 4 of the Beloyarsk nuclear power plant in the Sverdlovsk district of Russia has been connected to the national grid. The BN-800 fast neutron reactor started providing power to the Urals region since Friday, Dec 11, 2015.

To achieve this, the thermal capacity of the reactor was raised to 25% of its nominal capacity and its K-800-130/3000 turbine reached a speed of 3000 rpm. The generator was then synchronized with the electricity grid and the thermal capacity of the reactor was increased to 35% of nominal capacity. The new unit joined the energy system at a minimum power level of 235 MWe.

"A significant event happened today: a new source of nuclear power generation in the Urals," Ivan Sidorov, director of the Beloyarsk nuclear power plant said in a statement yesterday. "On this day the countdown in the energy biography of the new unit began and will henceforth be celebrated as its anniversary. But the start-up phase has not yet been completed [since] there next need to be an increase in capacity to 50%, pilot operation and a gradual increase in capacity to 100%. So we still have a lot of work ahead of us. But the most important milestone in the history of the new power unit has been achieved right now."

The 789 MWe BN-800 Beloyarsk 4 is fuelled by a mix of uranium and plutonium oxides arranged to produce new fuel material as it burns. Its capacity exceeds that of the world's second most powerful fast reactor - the 560 MWe BN-600 Beloyarsk 3.

Unit 4 of the Beloyarsk plant (Image: Publicatom.ru)




Andrey Petrov, general director Rosenergoatom, said yesterday that the launch of the BN-800 reactor is an "outstanding event" for the Russian nuclear power industry. "The previous unit of this type of reactor, the BN-600, was launched 35 years ago, in the last century. The BN-800 was constructed in a fundamentally different environment, so its launch, I believe, quite rightly deserves to be recognised as a feat of labour by its designers, engineers, builders, fitters, manufacturers and, of course, its operations personnel," Petrov said.

He added: "The BN-800 presented us with challenges, but the main thing is that, thanks to this unit we have restored our competence in the design and construction of fast reactors. Today marks another important step in the transition of Russia's nuclear industry to a new technology platform."

Beloyarsk 4 was first brought to minimum controlled power in June 2014, with the start of operation planned for the end of that year. But last December Rosenergoatom announced that nuclear fuel for the unit would first be developed further. The company then said the unit was expected to start operations before the end of this year. It was brought to the minimum controlled power level for the second and third times, in August and November this year.




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