TVEL will conduct a number of pre-irradiation test for the new fuel design aimed at qualification for a licence


Image: The Dukovany nuclear power plant in Czech Republic. Photo: courtesy of The State Atomic Energy Corporation ROSATOM.

TVEL, a Russian nuclear fuel cycle company and a subsidiary of Rosatom, has signed a contract with Czech national power company ČEZ to introduce the new RK 3+ modification of its VVER-440 fuel at the 2,040MW Dukovany nuclear power plant (NPP).

Prior to the introduction, TVEL will carry out a number of pre-irradiation tests for the new fuel design aimed at qualification for a licence from the Czech Republic’s State Office for Nuclear Safety.

TVEL said in a statement: “The project will also consider the operations experience of the prototype of such fuel at power unit 4 of Kola NPP in Murmansk region (Russia’s North-West, Kola Peninsula), where it has been successfully used since 2010.”

Compared to the previous generations of VVER-440 fuel, the RK 3+ design has enhanced physical and thermo-hydraulic properties.

Additionally, the new fuel design features longer fuel rod pitch, which will streamline the water-uranium ratio in the reactor core and increase the efficiency of the fuel.

The design provides an option to the engineers with the elongation of the fuel cycle at the power plant.

TVEL JSC research and development vice-president Alexander Ugryumov said: “The new project of switching Dukovany NPP to RK 3+ fuel will facilitate the optimization of the plant fuel cycle strategy, also increasing safety and economic efficiency of the power units operation.”

Dukovany nuclear power plant was commissioned in 1985

Commissioned in 1985, the Dukovany NPP has four power units powered by VVER-440 reactors. Each of the reactors has a heat capacity of 1,375MW and an electric capacity of 510MW.

The power plant generates about 13 billion kWh of electricity per annum, meeting approximately 20% of power needs in the Czech Republic.

The country also operates Temelin NPP, featuring two units with VVER-1000. The two power plants account for about 35% of the country’s total power generation capacity.

The two nuclear power plants in the Czech Republic have been operated with Russian nuclear fuel manufactured by TVEL’s Machine-Building Plant (Elektrostal, Moscow region).

Recently, TVEL secured a contract to supply nuclear fuel to the future power units 7 and 8 of the Tianwan nuclear power plant (NPP) in China.