Russia’s Mashinostroitelny Zavod (MSZ) in Elektrostal, part of state nuclear corporation Rosatom’s fuel company TVEL, has begun producing uranium dioxide powder for fuel pellets using new technology. A new site has begun pilot operation for the production of uranium dioxide powder by the reduction pyrohydrolysis method (RPGU). The large-scale investment project will make it possible to replace outdated gas-flame installations for the conversion of uranium hexafluoride with modern equipment, TVEL said on 28 July. “Compared with gas-plasma installations, the new equipment is more cost-effective, environmentally friendly and radiation-safe. The operation of the installation is almost completely automated," said Igor Petrov, Technical Director at MSZ.
“For TVEL, the commissioning of the RPGU unit at the Machine-Building Plant is an important event in the framework of the technological re-equipment of our manufacturing facilities. Earlier, the technology for reducing pyrohydrolysis of uranium was introduced at the Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrates Plant. The implementation of a similar project at MSZ will unify the technology for the production of uranium dioxide powder in the Fuel Division of Rosatom. For us this means increased flexibility and reliability in the implementation of the production programme, ”said Mikhail Zarubin, Senior Vice President for Production at TVEL.
Specialists from a number of subdivisions of MSZ were involved in the development of design documentation, software, and comprehensive commissioning of the RPGU unit. MSZ is one of the world's largest producers of fuel for NPPs. The plant produces fuel assemblies for VVER-440, VVER-1000, RBMK-1000, BN-600,800, VK-50, and EGP-6 reactors, as well as powders and fuel pellets for supply to foreign customers. It also produces nuclear fuel for research reactors.