Russia’s ‘Breakthrough’ energy project enables closed a nuclear fuel cycle and a future without radioactive waste. The first batch of MOX nuclear fuel has been manufactured for the world’s only NPP industrially power generating breeder reactors.
The first ten kilograms of the mixed-oxide fuel (MOX) – a mixture of plutonium and uranium dioxides (UO2 and PuO2), have been industrially produced by Russia’s nuclear monopoly, Rosatom, at the Mining & Chemical Combine (GKhK) in the Krasnoyarsk region.
A world first, tablets of the fuel of the future have been put on serial production and are destined for Russia’s next generation BN-800 breeder reactor (880 megawatts), currently undergoing tests at the Beloyarskaya nuclear power plant.
The production line, now undergoing start-up and adjustment, was assembled in a mine 200 meters underground and will become fully operational by the end of 2014.
Fast fission reactors solve the problem of depleted uranium nuclear fuel on the planet. They can ‘burn’ not only ‘classic’ uranium-235, (scarce and already coming to an end), but also uranium-238, which is abundant, and expands the world’s nuclear fuel capacity by an estimated 50 times.
Fuel for breeder reactors could even be made from nuclear waste, which from an ecological point of view is a priceless advantage.
The GKhK facility will be equipped with a unique dissolvent reactor that will break down nuclear waste containing plutonium and extract plutonium dioxide to be used in MOX-fuel production.
Also, while producing electric energy, breeder reactors actually generate more fissile material, and that one also can be used as nuclear fuel.
The GKhK plant is Russia’s leading full nuclear fuel cycle complex, processing nuclear waste from power generating nuclear reactors to establish future nuclear fuel ring closure.
MOX-fuel for previous versions of fast breeder reactors in the USSR and Russia had limited production at Russia’s oldest Mayak nuclear processing facility.
Starting from 2016, industrial-level MOX-fuel production in Russia will run at full capacity.
“Produced MOX-fuel tablets fully conform to the technical specifications,” Rosatom’s statement said, adding that the fuel will now be thoroughly tested.