Russian nuclear build corporation Rosatom has said the 168 metric ton core catcher body has installed in its permanent position under the reactor pit of Kursk-II Unit 1 in western Russia near the border with Ukraine.
The core catcher is the first heavyweight component installed in the unit, the first of two VVER-TOI reactors planned to replace Kursk I Units 1 and 2.
The entire catcher weighs more than 800 metric tons and, apart from the body, includes assemblies filled with nonmetallic sacrificial materials, a service deck, a cantilever girder and a lower plate.
The project’s general designer and contractor is ASE, Rosatom’s engineering division, the company said.
The core catcher is a considered a passive safety barrier developed. The catcher can hold corium (lava-like fuel-containing mass) for an unlimited period of time, preventing the release of nuclear materials in the unlikely case of a beyond-design basis accident resulting in a nuclear meltdown. “The catcher can sustain earthquakes, floods and external mechanical impacts,” says Alexey Deriy, ASE Director for the Kursk II project.
The molten core catcher for Kursk-II was produced by Energotex, a Russian mechanical engineering company, and delivered to the site in five days ahead of schedule. A 110-metric ton lower guide plate and a 209-ton 9.5-meter cantilever support arrived at the site on October 15; the catcher body was delivered on the following day.
The two 1,255 MW units are planned to go online simultaneously with the decommissioning of the now operational Units 1 and 2 RBMK-1000 reactors. At present, Kursk NPP is a Top-4 nuclear plant in Russia in terms of capacity. It supplies power to 19 regions of Russia’s Central Federal District.
The world’s first ever core catcher was installed at the Russian-designed Tianwan NPP in China. Similar catchers are also installed at Kudankulam, Leningrad-II, Novovoronezh-II and Belarus NPP and will be used at Akkuyu, Rooppur and other nuclear plants built by Rosatom.
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