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Russia may build new fast fission nuclear reactor within 10 years

June 27, 2017, 9:25 UTC+3 YEKATERINBURG

Russia is the only country that has two fast fission reactors in full industrial operation

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© Donat Sorokin/TASS

YEKATERINBURG, June 26. /TASS/. Russia’s state nuclear power corporation Rosatom may build a new fast fission reactor BN-1200 within ten years after a decision on its construction is taken, Sergei Shepelyov, the designer-in-chief of fast fission reactor units told TASS.

"We’ve drafted a roadmap for developing the BN-1200 and if we follow provisions of the document as regards the decision to build it, we’ll be able to do its power start-up in 2027 and to put it on stream further," he said on the sidelines of an international conference on fast fission nuclear reactors and their fuel cycles (FR17) underway in Yekaterinburg.

Yekaterinburg is the administrative center of the heavily industrialized Sverdlovsk region in Central Urals.

The main advantages of fast fission reactors are a broader base of fuel elements, higher operating safety and secure disposal of long half-life isotopes.

Along with, the substances slowing the neutrons down, like water, are excluded from the reaction and the cooling of these reactors involves the substances like sodium of lead. Also, construction of these reactors requires special designing solutions and the cost of their construction and operation is higher than that of conventional reactors.

Rosatom is doing an expert study of the refined BN-1200 project. The refining helped improve the technological and economic parameters of the reactor unit and boost the safety of its operation.

The improvements make it possible to position BN-1200 as the G4 reactor, Sergei Shepelyov said.

The results of the expert study will come under review at two specialized meetings of Rosatom’s board for research and technologies that will take a decision on the prospects for developing the new-generation fast fission reactors.

"We plan to hold the specialized sessions of the Council in July and to review the results of the expert study and the project itself, as well as to take some decisions there," he said.

He recalled that the Council had earlier asked the developers to improve the economic characteristics of the unit. At this moment, the designers have finalized the technical project of the reactor unit, the turbine plant, and the generating unit project documentation.

Russia is the only country that has two fast fission reactors, BN600 and BN800 in full industrial operation. They are installed at the Bely Yar nuclear power plant in the Sverdlovsk region.

The BN-1200 will be a more powerful reactor. The developers hope it will become part and parcel of the closed nuclear fuel cycle project.

China, India and France, too, are developing their own versions of fast fission reactors energetically. Mikhail Chudakov, a deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a speech at FR17 other countries were seeking to join the project, too.

He said fast reactors were the reactors of the future.

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