Novovoronezh Unit To Be Switched To 18-Month Fuel Cycle

Nuclear service giant Rosenergoatom said that it would transition the 6th power block of the Novovoronezh Nuclear Power Plant -- featuring a VVER-1200 reactor -- to switch to an extended, 18-month fuel cycle.
Novovoronezh fuel assemblySince its operational launch in 2016, the Novovoronezh NPP’s 6th power block has been running a 12-months fuel cycle with refueling taking place once a year. Operators are now completing the paperwork process for submission for a Rostekhnadzor review.
Rosenergoatom said the license to switch the Novovoronezh NPP’s 6th power block to an 18-months fuel cucle will be obtained following a thorough on-site investigation of the prepared documents.
The operation of the extended fuel cycle mode will start as a pilot operation, which will last three years. "Following the outcomes of that phase, a decision will be made on whether to fully switch to an 18-months fuel cycle," the company said.
‘We will be able to conduct nuclear refueling once every year and a half, not every year, which would considerably reduce the total duration of the power block’s maintenance. As a result, we will increase the power block’s installed capacity utilization factor and, hence the electric power output. Based on our experience with VVER-1000 power block, the total output in the new mode may go up by over 11 percent. The introduction of the 18-months fuel cycle will facilitate more stable and effective operation of the innovative power block’s equipment and will improve its safety," said Evgeniy Golubev, the head of the nuclear safety and reliability department at the Novovoronezh NPP.
Fresh nuclear fuel to be uploaded during the upcoming routine maintenance is manufactured by Russia's TVEL Fuel Company. Improved mechanical parameters, enhanced nuclear fuel enrichment process and usage of gadolinium-containing fuel elements cater for safe operation of the VVER-1200 reactor facility in long fuel cycles, according to a press statement.
Following the transition to the 18-months fuel cycle at the Novovoronezh NPP 6th power block, a similar exercise will be undertaken at the 7th one.
Novovoronezh NPP is a branch of Rosenergoatom JSC, a part of the largest division of the Rosatom State Corporation -- Electric Power Division. the plant is located on the River Don, 42 km south of Voronezh.
It is the first plant with VVER type reactors (water-water power reactors of containment type with water under pressure). Three reactors at the plant are considered prototype models. The first was commissioned in 1969, the fifth in 1980. The first two have since been shut down (in 1984 and 1990, respectively. The Novovoronezh II project was undertaken to replace the plant's oldest reactors.The first Novovoronezh II reactor (Unit 6) was commissioned on December 27, 2017 with the second unit for  Novovoronezh II put into operation in October 2019.

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