First concrete was poured on 29 April for the foundation slab of unit 1 at Russia’s Kursk-II nuclear plant, signalling the start of construction. Kursk-II is to have two generation 3+ 1255MWe VVER-TOI (typical optimised, with enhanced information) reactors. 

An evolution of the VVER-1200 project, the units have a capacity   25% greater than the previous generation of VVER-1000 reactors. The service life of the main equipment has doubled from 30 to 60 years, with the possibility of extending it to 80 years. Increased automation has reduced the number of personnel by 30-40%.  Compared with the VVER-1200 reactors being built at Novovoronezh-II and Leningrad-II, the VVER-TOI project assumes a significant reduction in construction schedule to 40 months as well as in the construction and operating cost of the units. 

Atomenergoproekt, a subsidiary of Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom, launched the VVER-TOI design in 2010, with an improved pressure vessel and core design to increase cooling reliability, core melt traps, enhanced passive safety with 72-hour grace period requiring no operator intervention after shutdown, and a low-speed turbine-generator. The VVER-TOI units are designed to withstand a point 8-9 magnitude earthquake compared with point seven for the VVER-1200. 

Concreting the foundations of the "nuclear island" facilities was preceded by a large amount of preparatory work including the establishment of an artificial base for the Kursk II unit 1 reactor building to achieve the soil characteristics specified by the regulatory and design documentation. More than 16,000 cubic metres of a self-compacting concrete mix will be laid in the foundation slab, and concreting will be carried out around the clock, with constant quality control of the mixture. The planned completion date for concreting is June this year.

Kursk-II is a replacement station for the current Kursk NPP where four RBMK units are approaching the end of their service lives.  It is planned to synchronise the launch of the first two VVER-TOI reactors with decommissioning Kursk 1 and 2 at the currently operating plant. Four units are scheduled to enter commercial operation at Kursk II between 2020 and 2026. Unit 1 is provisionally scheduled to enter service in 2020, Unit 2 in 2023, Unit 3 in 2024 and Unit 4 in 2026. According to Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom, investment in the new plant will exceed RUB400bn ($6bn).  The construction costs of Kursk II this year will total more than RUB27bn, which is RUB10bn more than last year, said Kursk NPP director Vyacheslav Fedyukin. He noted that VVER-TOI units represent the future of Russia's nuclear power industry.  

AEM Technology announced earlier in April that the Volgodonsk branch of its Atommash subsidiary had completed the manufacture of the bottom of the reactor vessel for unit 1 of Kursk II. AEM Technology said the procedure was carried out in two stages. The first involved thermopressing and forging to obtain a seamless sheet blank of the required overall dimensions. The second stage involved 'punching' during heating of the component for six hours at a maximum temperature of 1070 degrees and placing a 300 millimetre-thick sheet weighing 64 tonnes onto it with a force of 12,000 tonnes.

Also in April, Rusatom Automated Control Systems (a Rosatom subsidiary) signed a RUB20bn contract for the supply of automated process control systems for units 1 and 2 of Kursk II. The work for unit 1 is to be completed by December 2020,  and for unit 2 by December 2021. The contract provides for five stages of the project. In 2018, it is planned to conduct competitive procedures for the selection of suppliers and to conclude contracts for the supply of ACS TP subsystems for the two power units.

Photo: First concrete at Kursk II-1 (Photo: Rosatom)

Date: Monday, 07 May 2018
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