Friday, November 23, 2012

Russia Speeds Development of 300 MWe Fast Reactors

Russia appears to be speeding development of its BREST 300 lead-cooled fast reactor design, rated at 300 MWe. State nuclear company Rosatom has moved up development plans for the reactor by 10 years -- up to 2020 for full operation, rather than 2030. A more rapid development of the new reactor will require a correspondingly larger investment in funding, personnel, and infrastructure. This is in keeping with PM Medvedev's ambitious plans to modernise Russia's industrial and technological sectors.
The head of Rosatom, Sergei Kiriyenko, told the meeting that plans foresee the figure for research and development reaching RUB42 billion ($1.3 billion) in 2020. This is about ten times its value in 2007 when the country began consolidating its nuclear activities within Rosatom.

...Kiriyenko said the federal target program up to 2020 had been intended to demonstrate incoming fast reactor technology and associated fuel-cycle infrastructure by that date so that it can come into use by 2030. Now, he said, the goal is to have 'not individual elements' being demonstrated, 'but a full range' in operation by 2020.

Two months ago Rosatom confirmed a plan to install the pilot BREST-300 lead-cooled fast reactor at the Siberian Chemical Combine (SCC) at Seversk in the Tomsk region. This would also mean the construction of the first plant to make the reactor's dense nitride fuel elements. Plans would see the construction of this 300 MWe reactor start in 2016 so that it could generate power from 2020. It would be the forerunner of a nationwide series of 1200 MWe versions.

...Rosatom's long-term strategy up to 2050 involves moving to inherently safe nuclear plants using fast reactors with a closed fuel cycle and MOX fuel. The country's federal target program envisages nuclear providing 45-50% at that time, with the share rising to 70-80% by the end of the century. _WNN_via_NBF
Along with the SVBR 100 SMR, the 300 MWe lead cooled fast reactor may be Russia's best design yet. A Gen IV reactor, it can produce electricity or hydrogen, and could be scaled to suit different tasks.

Both China and Russia appear to be moving toward an acceleration of their nuclear power development. This is in sharp contrast to the US Obama administration's NRC record of foot-dragging and obstructionism. And compared to much of Europe's anti-nuclear hysteria, Russia and China appear to be taking their energy futures very seriously.

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