China Buys Two 880 MWe Fast Neutron Nuclear Reactors from Russia

A high-level agreement has been signed for Russia to start pre-project and design works for two commercial 880 MWe fast neutron reactors in China. Breeder reactors burn more of the nuclear fuel (uranium). The BN800 has a fuel burn-up of 70-100 GWd/t. Maximum fuel burn up is 950 GWd/t (Gigawatt days per ton) and current reactors have a burnup of 30-60 GWd/t.

Russia is building the BN-800 fast reactor at Beloyarsk in Russia which is due to start up in 2012. Russia has operated a 600 MWe fast reactor since 1980.

The deal with China is first time commercial fast reactors will have been exported.
Pictures and information on the BN800 from the coal2nuclear page on the BN800 reactor

Construction is under way on Beloyarsk-4 which is the first BN-800 from OKBM, a new, more powerful (880 MWe) FBR, which is actually the same overall size as BN-600. It has improved features including fuel flexibility – U+Pu nitride, MOX, or metal, and with breeding ratio up to 1.3. However, during the plutonium disposition campaign it will be operated with a breeding ratio of less than one. It has much enhanced safety and improved economy – operating cost is expected to be only 15% more than VVER. It is capable of burning up to 2 tonnes of plutonium per year from dismantled weapons and will test the recycling of minor actinides in the fuel.

The Russian BN-600 fast breeder reactor – Beloyarsk unit 3 – has been supplying electricity to the grid since 1980 and is said to have the best operating and production record of all Russia’s nuclear power units. It uses chiefly uranium oxide fuel, some enriched to over 20%, with some MOX in recent years. The sodium coolant delivers 550°C at little more than atmospheric pressure. Russia plans to reconfigure the BN-600 by replacing the fertile blanket around the core with steel reflector assemblies to burn the plutonium from its military stockpiles and to extend its life beyond the 30-year design span.

Background information on fast neutron reactors.

India should have fast breeder reactor operating in 2011.

A 500 MWe prototype fast breeder reactor (PFBR) is under construction at Kalpakkam and is expected to be operating in 2011, fuelled with uranium-plutonium oxide or carbide. It will have a blanket with thorium and uranium to breed fissile U-233 and plutonium respectively. Initial FBRs will have mixed oxide fuel but these will be followed by metallic fuelled ones to enable shorter doubling time.

BN800 status from Aug 20, 2009

BN-800 as a New Stage in the Development of Sodium Cooled Fast Reactors