“Perpetual motion machine” of nuclear power

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The solemn pouring of the foundation for the base of the reactor plant took place on June 8 in Seversk, Tomsk Region, at the site of the Sibkhimkombinat (an enterprise of the TVEL Fuel Company of Rosatom). The facility is being built as part of the Breakthrough project to create a closed nuclear fuel cycle technology.

Experts consider “Breakthrough” to be one of the main innovative projects in the world atomic energy. It provides for the creation of a new technological platform based on closed-cycle technologies using fast reactors. The first country in the world to achieve this was Russia.

The new power unit will become part of the Experimental Demonstration Power Complex (ODEK). It includes three interconnected industrial facilities that have no analogues in the world: a module for the production of uranium-plutonium nuclear fuel, a BREST-OD-300 power unit, and a module for the reprocessing of irradiated fuel.

For the first time in world practice

The abbreviation “BREST” has a double meaning. This is the name of a lead-cooled fast reactor plant and at the same time designation of the concept of a “fast” reactor with the property of natural safety, when accidents like Chernobyl and Fukushima become impossible in principle.

“For the first time in world practice, a nuclear power plant with a“ fast ”reactor and an on-site closed nuclear fuel cycle will be created at one site,” said Vyacheslav Pershukov, head of the Proryv project direction. – After reprocessing, irradiated fuel will be sent for refurbishment (that is, re-production of fresh fuel) with multiple recycle of fissile materials. Thus, this system will gradually become practically autonomous and independent of external energy supplies.

The construction of the power unit was started within the framework of the Year of Science and Technology, announced by the decree of the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin. To this day, Russian and Tomsk nuclear scientists have walked a long time: at the Seversk site, Rosatom has been implementing the Breakthrough project since 2011. It took ten years to design and preparatory work. However, according to the IAEA classification, it is “first concrete” that serves as the official start of construction.

As Rosatom General Director Alexei Likhachev emphasized, BREST is a clean and safe fourth-generation nuclear power industry. And thanks to the reprocessing of nuclear fuel an infinite number of times, its resource base will become practically inexhaustible.

“At the same time, the problem of SNF accumulation is removed for future generations,” he said. – Successful implementation of this project will enable Russia to become the world's first carrier of nuclear technology that fully meets the principles of sustainable development. Today, we reaffirm our reputation as a leader in global progress in the field of nuclear technology, offering unique solutions to humanity aimed at improving the lives of people.

– The implementation of the Breakthrough project includes the creation of not only innovative reactors, but also a new generation of nuclear fuel cycle technologies. It is they in the complex that will make the nuclear power industry of the future virtually renewable and practically waste-free, ”says Natalya Nikipelova, President of the TVEL Fuel Company of Rosatom.

Atomic project 2.0

Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Government Yuri Borisov, President of the Russian Academy of Sciences Alexander Sergeev, Director General of the IAEA Rafael Grossi, Head of the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) William Magwood congratulated the participants by video link on the start of the construction of the new reactor.

First Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration of the Russian Federation, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Rosatom Sergei Kiriyenko stressed: “The breakthrough has really happened. What we have been preparing for for a long time, what we have been working on, what we dreamed of, has come to pass: Russia is becoming the first country in the world to begin closing the nuclear fuel cycle. ” And it is not in vain that they compare it with a “philosophical” stone or “perpetual motion machine” of energy.

Mikhail Kovalchuk, President of the Kurchatov Institute National Research Center, congratulated colleagues with “colossal success” According to him, today at the Severskaya site not only the launch of the next installation took place.

– The first nuclear project was launched at the Kurchatov Institute, at the end of 2021 we will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the launch of the first reactor. This was the beginning of the atomic era on the Eurasian continent. But at that time everything was aimed at solving the only problem – to create nuclear weapons, – he recalled. – And today we are launching a fundamentally new atomic project 2.0, aimed at new energy. Until now, for hundreds, thousands of years, mankind has been burning fires, polluting the environment, destroying the oxygen we need so much. This raises the issue of decarbonization and a carbon-free economy and energy. The only obvious, large-scale, technologically sound is nature-like nuclear power. It is unique in its essence, it is carbon-free, it does not burn oxygen and does not emit anything. In this sense, it ideally meets the needs of modern civilization.


Further – on a national scale

The ceremony of pouring the foundation for the base of the reactor plant was organized to match the large-scale event. The symbolic “button” was pressed at the start by Alexey Likhachev, Mikhail Kovalchuk and Evgeny Adamov, scientific director of the NIKIET im. Dollezhal and the project direction “Breakthrough”.

At the moment of launch, giant flags of Russia and Rosatom, raised by two tower cranes, soared into the air over the construction site. The fireworks marked the beginning of a new stage in the development of the domestic nuclear power industry.

To date, more than 30 organizations, over one and a half thousand scientists, engineers and designers are participating in the implementation of the Breakthrough project. Evgeny Adamov told reporters about the immediate prospects:

– We have formed a clear roadmap of work, from full-scale scientific research, design and production of equipment to design, construction and commissioning of ODEK facilities. According to the plans, the BREST-300 reactor should start operation in 2026. By 2023, we want to master the production complex for the production of fuel. And by 2024, it is planned to begin construction of the irradiated fuel reprocessing module.

BREST will be a low power pilot plant. According to Likhachev, the entire Experimental Demonstration Power Complex will start working in 2030.

– This is not just a scientific solution, but a prototype of an industrial plant, we will then scale it at the country level, where the capacity will go to gigawatts. We hope that in 2030 – 2040 this will become an object of Russian export. There is a triple benefit here: we are qualitatively improving the economy of nuclear energy, we are starting to use natural uranium and spent nuclear fuel, reducing radioactive waste to zero and virtually eliminating beyond design basis accidents, ”summed up the general director of Rosatom.

Alexey Likhachev, General Director of Rosatom State Corporation: “BREST is a clean and safe nuclear energy of the fourth generation”.

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