Novovoronezh nuclear scientists were the first to work on converting a power unit from PWR-1200 to an 18-month fuel cycle

At the Novovoronezh NPP, pilot industrial operation of modern power unit No. 6 was successfully performed in an 18-month fuel cycle. Based on the results of its implementation, reporting documents were sent to the Federal Service for Environmental, Technological and Nuclear Supervision (Rostechnadzor). After receiving an expert opinion and changing the terms of the license, power unit No. 6 of the Novovoronezh NPP will be transferred to commercial operation in an 18-month fuel cycle.

Since 2016, after commissioning, power unit No. 6 of the Novovoronezh NPP has operated three fuel campaigns in a 12-month cycle: unloading of spent nuclear fuel and loading of fresh nuclear fuel was carried out once a year. In August 2020, pilot production began with an 18-month fuel cycle as part of the fourth and fifth campaigns. The equipment of the power unit and the nuclear fuel produced by TVEL have proven their reliability, safety and efficiency.

“The designs of power units No. 6 and No. 7 of the Novovoronezh NPP provided for the possibility of improving the fuel cycle. Its implementation makes it possible to significantly reduce the duration of repairs, ensure an increase in electricity generation, and also increase the efficiency of the power unit as a whole,” said Vladimir Povarov, director of the Novovoronezh NPP.

Increasing the duration of the fuel cycle was made possible by increasing the average enrichment of nuclear fuel and using more gadolinium oxide as a neutron absorber in the fuel assemblies of the PWR-1200 reactor plant.

“PWR reactors are distinguished by high safety, reliability and wide modernization capabilities. We are working not only on design changes, but also on increasing the efficiency of the fuel cycle, without lowering the safety bar,” said Alexander Shutikov, General Director of Rosenergoatom Concern. “The experience of Novovoronezh nuclear scientists, gained during the implementation of an 18-month fuel cycle at a power unit with a PWR-1200 reactor, will be used on units of a similar design both in Russia and abroad,” he added.

Similar work is being performed at the 7th power unit of the Novovoronezh NPP. Its transition to an 18-month fuel cycle is planned for March 2024.

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The Russian Federation is implementing a program to increase capacity at existing nuclear power plants. Thanks to the introduction of modern fuel with increased uranium content, all PWR-1000 reactors are already operating at 104% of the nominal power in extended 18-month fuel cycles. Thus, the domestic nuclear industry has been transformed into a conveyor belt of nuclear technologies, which allows Russia to occupy a leading position in the world.

Operational information on the radiation situation next to Russian NPPs and other facilities of the nuclear industry is available on the website 

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