The development and validation of modified fuel for use in the four VVER-440 reactors at the Paks nuclear power plant in Hungary has now been completed, Rosatom's nuclear fuel manufacturer subsidiary TVEL announced today. The first consignment of the modified fuel is scheduled to be delivered to the Paks plant later this year.

VVER-440 fuel fabrication at Elemash (Image: TVEL)

TVEL said the full package of documents has been submitted to the Hungarian customer, MVM Paks Ltd, for further licensing of the fuel by the national nuclear power regulator. It said the first fuel assemblies have passed acceptance testing at the Elemash Machine-building plant, a TVEL fuel fabrication facility in Elektrostal, Moscow region.

The engineering contract between TVEL and MVM Paks for development of the new VVER-440 fuel was signed in November 2017.

The new modification of second-generation VVER-440 fuel enables an increase in the coolant volume inside the reactor core and optimisation of the hydro-uranium ratio, which would have a positive impact on both the technical and economic performance of the power unit, TVEL said.

TVEL noted the project has involved the participation of a number of Russian nuclear industry enterprises, such as OKB Gidropress (part of Rosatom's machine-building division Atomenergomash), Bochvar Institute (TVEL's material science research facility), Elemash Machine-building plant and Kurchatov Institute national research centre. The new fuel passed a range of hydraulic, longevity and vibration tests at the site of OKB Gidropress research and experiment facility.

Paks, which has a total installed capacity 1902 MWe, is the only operating nuclear power plant in Hungary. It comprises four VVER-440 reactors that were commissioned between 1982 and 1987. It is currently the only VVER-440 plant in the world operating in extended 15-month fuel cycles. It produces about 15 billion kWh of power annually, which is about half of Hungary's electricity generation.

"TVEL Fuel Company and Paks NPP have a longstanding partnership with a number of successfully accomplished projects. Introduction of the new fuel modification at all four power units of the plant would enable our customer to decrease gradually the fuel share in the power generation cost, giving an essential economic impact," TVEL President Natalia Nikipelova said. "Paks NPP contributes about the half of the whole electricity generation in Hungary and, for us as a nuclear fuel manufacturer, it is a matter of professional pride to provide the Hungarian nuclear power units with reliable supplies of fuel that is both high-quality and commercially attractive."

Russia and Hungary signed an intergovernmental agreement in early 2014 for Russian enterprises and their international sub-contractors to supply two VVER-1200 reactors at Paks, including a Russian state loan of up to EUR10.0 billion (USD11.2 billion) to finance 80% of the project, which is known as Paks II.

Finnish utility Fortum signed a contract with TVEL in March 2018 for the supply of the modified fuel for use at its twin VVER-440 Loviisa plant.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News

Date: Wednesday, 14 October 2020
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