Interview with the Project Manager to create a prototype of the BREST-300

Siberian Chemical Combine (SCC) in 2014 will start to build the infrastructure for the project "Breakthrough" to create the newest fuel for nuclear power. The main objectives of the project to build an experimental reactor BREST-300 told his supervisor Andrey Nikolaev.

  • Andrei Nikolayev © Photo: SCC granted
  • Andrei Nikolayev © Photo: SCC granted


Siberian Chemical Combine (SCC) in 2014 will start to build the infrastructure for the project "Breakthrough" to create the newest fuel for nuclear power. Andrei Nikolayev, head of the project to build an experimental reactor BREST-300, told RIA Novosti on the main goals of the project and explained why such a reactor can safely build around a big city.

— Andrew G., not so much in the public domain information about the project, "Breakthrough", which will be implemented at the SCC. Tell us about the project, its goals and objectives?
— I ended in 1980, the institute, then we have already talked about the closed nuclear fuel cycle (NFC) for fast reactors, and that is the perspective of 50 years, ie in 2030. And the whole world is going to this now. Russia also decided to get ahead of the story for 10 years and to implement this cycle before. I had just dreamed of this project to implement — and now I'm working on this project.
In 2010, the Russian government adopted a federal target program "Nuclear power a new generation for the period 2010-2015 and up to 2020." Her goal — to develop a new technology platform. The emphasis in this program is on the fourth-generation reactors, which the world is not — now operated by the third generation reactors and Generation 3 +.
The fourth generation involves the creation of a reactor with a closed fuel cycle, in which the world still do not. The reactors are operated with an open fuel cycle: the fuel is irradiated in a reactor, the energy is obtained, and then buried it. There is a partially closed cycle: after unloading fuel partially processed, unnecessary bury and store recycled for further use.
And at the site of the SCC will be set up pilot demonstration power complex (ODEK), which will be implemented by a closed nuclear fuel cycle: we will produce fuel loaded into the reactor, irradiated, gain energy, discharge, recycle, re-manufacture of this fuel — and load. There is only a small make-up of the uranium, plutonium no longer needed. And there is the disposal of radioactive waste, which in principle do not need.

— What are other benefits of a closed nuclear fuel cycle?
— In the open cycle is the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel (SNF). Uranium and plutonium are separated after irradiation, and remains the problem of plutonium. After processing in the fast reactor separation occurs. Only waste products are removed, and so the uranium-plutonium fuel turns on. This is an important step in the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons — there is no separation of plutonium.
Moreover, these reactors — afterburners minor actinides: during irradiation accumulates americium, curium. In the thermal energy is released, and then these elements also serve as fuel.

— What are the terms of the project at SCC?
— The first will build a module fabrication of dense mixed uranium-plutonium (nitride) of fuel. By the end of this year, tasked to develop all the documentation to the middle of 2014, the start of construction. The plant will be launched as planned in 2017.
The module must earn your first boot to the reactor for subsequent reboots itself reactor started up in 2020, two years will be to work in an experimental mode, and in 2022 should be running fuel processing module.
But you can not just start building the module fabrication, because the site will continue to evolve. And so the construction of buildings, which are necessary for the existence of the entire site will be conducted in parallel. All networks will be attracted to all the objects at once. But the objects will be started in different years.
The project will be released through the reactor in 2014. I think that in 2015 it will begin the actual construction.

— All this will be at the site of the radiochemical plant (RCP)?
— That's right. The site is located north-east of the RCP.

— What are the priorities of the operation of the reactor?
— As I said before, this will be the first such reactor in the world. It will be a pilot demonstration fast reactor with lead coolant capacity of 300 MW (BREST-0R-300). It is also called fast reactor inherent safety. Now the world is operated fast reactors with sodium coolant (BN). Sodium — very light. Our reactor is a heavy liquid metal coolant.
The primary objective of the project — to develop technology of production of the new fuel technology operation of the new low-power reactor and reprocessing technology and a new replacement. Our goal — to determine the ability of the reactor and the availability of electricity on it.

— A long-term plans for the reactor?
— It is planned to exploit his 30 years. At first it will be a physical trigger, not the energy. It will take research, and if all goes well, it is decided to put it in the power mode, so he gave more and electricity. And, accordingly, will decide on the transition to such reactors, only more power. This is for commercial use.

— The cost of the project is large?
— For the full range of costs — about 100 billion rubles. Of these, the price of power — about 48-49 billion rubles.

— How will ship the equipment?
— Everything will be Russian.

— As in the reactor coolant will lead is used, then the issue will be resolved as freeze-thaw?
— This project provides. There is an external heat source. Lead, before getting into the reactor is heated in a container and then enters the reactor vessel. All of the reactor are at a temperature above the melting point of lead (327 degrees Celsius).
He's out there circulating. Going through the reactor, lead is heated, it turns energy. It stands out from the reactor core coolant heats up, passes the heat exchanger cools the heat went on the production of steam — and began to spin the turbine.

— But experts say that the properties of liquid lead is not fully understood, and no one knows how he will behave …
— But with sodium same work. A sodium — a very active metal. If in contact with air it ignites, because there is moisture, when in contact with water it all explodes. And it did not scare people to create sodium reactors. The same BN-600 operated 30 years.
Lead in this respect less dangerous. It does not burn in air, in contact with water does not explode to structural metals it is very passive, rarely enters into any joint. From the viewpoint of reactivity lead safer solution.
What distinguishes the reactor, so it's melting point: you have to keep the core under high temperature. All this is under the temperature of 500 degrees. If water-cooled reactors operate at a temperature of 220-250 degrees, there inlet 420 degrees, the output — 550. Here is the delta and is energy. I like physics, this temperature is not afraid, and non-specialists may alarming.
You see, the sodium in your time taken, because it has a low melting point. Then structural materials has been developed to such a high m
elting temperature, like lead. But at such temperature the reactor 30 operates. Now these materials are.
The principal investigator of lead as a coolant — Physics and Power Engineering named Leypunsky in Obninsk. They carry out all the research related to the technology lead. All studies were immediately put into the technology.

— How to take into account the risk of polonium?
— Polonius — a radioactive element, like everyone else. Yes, as a result of lead exposure will accumulate polonium-210. But the lead would be cleaned periodically, as well as other elements. Unnecessary to further sustain the reaction elements will stand out in the module reprocessing and passed the national operator for storage. The operator is present at the site of the SCC, he transferred to the underground burial ground.

— The public is worried that the pilot reactor, which had not been used anywhere else, with an unproven technology will be built in close proximity to a major city. What can you say to that?
— Nothing is safe there. The same five uranium-graphite reactors, which have been working at the site. When they were built in the 50 — ies, few people thought about security. And they were very dangerous. Any deviation from the nominal parameters of the operator effort required to bring the reactor to normal. I am one of the reactors working. Then the people were not asked.

Our reactor is a fast neutron, it is another physics. To start the slow thermal reactor, which were built before, it was necessary to create a large supply of reactivity of the fuel. And as soon as the stock falls, the reactor was stopped by overload. And so it is constant.
In a fast reactor, the process is very different. It is very small reactivity margin initially. To just start to go a chain reaction. And then starts accumulating in the new fuel, and it operates on it in a balanced mode.
In a fast reactor is not possible crackdown on prompt neutrons: Since reactivity margin is low, the fraction of delayed neutrons too low. Do not, under any situation crackdown on prompt neutrons does not happen, there is no nuclear explosion. 

— Experts say that the nitride fuel is too "young" to use it in a test reactor again near the big city.
— Nitride fuel from the point of view of physics better oxide. Oxide fuel — it is hard, brittle — bursting, cracking, swells by neutrons. In this case, the nitride fuel more robust. It therefore is called "tight" — it is solid in terms of mechanical defects: no swells, no breaks, no pressure on the shell. And temperature regimes easier to carry due to better thermal conductivity.

— What is the essence of the term "natural security" in relation to Brest?
— This property reactor drown herself in the event of any parameters.

— You said that you will spent nuclear fuel. In addition to the full that it will be and how their problem will be solved?
— No new radioactive elements are formed, all within the framework of the project. Compared with the waste that now exist in the nuclear industry, it is night and day: the number and volumes are very small. Most high-level waste is generated in the fuel. And if fuel is returned back to the reactor waste disposed at least gets radioactive elements. Bury their will on our site.

— When should I expect to start commercial operation of fast breeder reactors?
— Our reactor will be commissioned in 2020. It is planned that the first commercial will be on the BR-1200 Beloyarsk. This is analogous to our Brest. Parallel to Brest is its design. And our module fabrication, which will turn out fuel for Brest, and must earn the starting load for the BR-1200. And if we need 28 tons, for the BR-1200 — already 40.
But a decision on it is pending, probably waiting for the implementation of the program at SCC. If all goes well, and the fabrication of the first module comes into operation, then the decision will be taken on it.

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