Two nations working together on a number of nuclear projects The Russia’s MBIR multipurpose fast neutron research reactor is under construction in western Russia. Couurtesy Rosatom. China and Russia have announced a long-term deal to continue developing fast-neutron nuclear power reactors and closing the nuclear fuel cycle.

Russia’s state nuclear corporation Rosatom said the agreement was signed on 21 March on the sidelines of the state visit to Russia of China’s president Xi Jinping.

The document was signed by Rosatom director-general Alexey Likhachev and Zhang Kejian, chairman of the China Atomic Energy Authority.

Fast neutron reactors are said to offer more efficient use of uranium resources and the ability to burn actinides – chemical elements which are otherwise the long-lived component of high-level nuclear waste.

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, global interest in fast reactors has been growing since their inception in 1960 because they can provide “efficient, safe and sustainable energy”. Their closed fuel cycle – a fuel cycle that reuses spent fuel – can support long-term nuclear power development as part of the world’s future energy mix and decrease the burden of nuclear waste.

Russia and China are cooperating on several reactor projects, including construction of Russian VVER plants at Tianwan and Xudabao in China and the supply of fuel for China’s experimental fast neutron reactor, the CFR-600 in the southeastern province of Fujian.

Russia’s MBIR multipurpose fast neutron research reactor is under construction at the Research Institute of Atomic Reactors site at Dimitrovgrad in the Ulyanovsk region of western Russia and is scheduled for completion in 2028.

In 2021, Russia’s president Vladimir Putin said Moscow was considering the possibility of China joining a consortium for construction of the plant.

In October, Russia’s state nuclear fuel company Tvel said it had begun deliveries of nuclear fuel for China’s CFR-600. In 2021, Tvel started up a production facility to fabricate fuel for the CFR-600. The facility is part of the Elemash Machine-Building Plant, a Tvel plant in Elektrostal, near Moscow.

Fuel manufactured by Russia for China’s CFR-600 fast neutron Reactor. Courtesy Tvel.

Date: Friday, 24 March 2023
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