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SOURCE: IANS

Russian nuclear fuel manufacturer TVEL Fuel Company is “breeding” or developing new kinds of fuels and technologies that increase refueling cycle; a balanced integrated fuel cycle for traditional and fast breeder reactors, 3D printing and others, said a senior company official.

TVE Fuel is part of Russia’s integrated nuclear power company. “All the six 1,000 MW units at Kudankulam in India will be powered by TVS 2M fuel. The fuel has been introduced in Unit 1,” Alexander Ugryumov, Senior Vice-President for Research and Development said.

The earlier fuel that was used in Unit 1 was called UTVS.

“In 2024 we will do the same in Unit 2. With the new fuel the units will operate with an 18 month refueling cycle from earlier 12 months.”

Ugryumov told IANS on the sidelines of the AtomExpo 2022, a global nuclear power exhibition-cum-conference being held here by Rosatom.

The Russian-government owned Rosatom is an integrated nuclear power plant player.

According to him, the units that are under construction — 3,4,5 and 6 — will not need any modification to house the new fuel bundles.

Ugryumov said nuclear fuel with 6 per cent enrichment will enable operations of VVER-1000 reactors (like the ones that are being set up in India) in longer 24 months fuel cycles.

The extension of the fuel cycle makes the power plant work for a longer period before it is stopped for refuelling. The longer a nuclear power plant works, the more power it generates.

The other economic benefits are: purchase fewer fresh fuel assemblies, and also offload less irradiated fuel bundles (handling of spent fuel also requires expenses).

According to Ugryumov, using fuel with uranium enrichment over five per cent may decrease the amount of annually replaced fuel bundles by the rate which would provide a significant economic impact on the power units life cycle.

He said another development at TVEL Fuel is the development of Advanced Technology Fuel (ATF), with new cladding materials, chromium-nickel alloy and zirconium alloy, that enhances the safety.

Ugryumov said next year the company will start supplying fuel bundles with zirconium cladding.

Another new technology is the development of the dual-component nuclear power industry with thermal and fast neutron reactors, as well as the introduction of closed nuclear fuel cycle technologies, which are based on fabrication of fresh uranium-plutonium fuel from reprocessed irradiated fuel.

The technologies of fast reactors and nuclear recycling enable Rosatom to offer to its foreign customers a new integrated product — Balanced Nuclear Fuel Cycle.

It is aimed at fundamental reduction of both, the volume of nuclear waste sent for disposal, and its radiation activity level.

It will multiply increase the feed-stock base of nuclear energy through involvement of secondary nuclear fuel cycle products, such as depleted uranium and plutonium.

According to him, the Balanced Nuclear Fuel Cycle would improve the safety of waste management and reduce environmental risks without leaving nuclear legacy for the future generations, as well as ensure a sustainable consumption and production model.

The Balanced Nuclear Fuel Cycle is part of the big major strategy of the Russian nuclear power sector.

To the query on supply of such fuel bundles to the Kudankulam units as India is also following a closed nuclear fuel cycle Ugryumov said there should be reference experience before that.

By 2030, there will be sufficient reference experience to export the Balanced Nuclear Fuel Cycle.

On the reprocessing of the spent fuel at Kudankulam reactors, Ugryumov said Russia can reprocess the same at India’s request and also supply fuel with reprocessed uranium.