Russia reaches welding milestone with fast neutron reactor

AEM-Technology has announced the completion of key welding work on MBIR — the multipurpose sodium-cooled fast neutron research reactor that is to be installed at the site of the Research Institute of Atomic Reactors (NIIAR) at Dmitrovgrad, which is in Russia’s Ulyanovsk region. AEM-Technology is part of Atomenergomash, a subsidiary of Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom.
The MBIR project is to be open to foreign collaboration, in connection with the International Atomic Energy Agency’s International Project on Innovative Nuclear Reactors and Fuel Cycles. MBIR will replace the BOR-60 experimental fast reactor that has been in operation at NIIAR’s site since 1969.
The basket and the high-pressure chamber have been welded, AEM-Technology said on 29 August, adding that the length of the welded seam exceeded six metres and had a wall thickness of 22 mm. The basket, which will be installed inside the building of the research reactor, will divide the incoming and outgoing coolant flows. It will weigh 45 tonnes, be more than 5m long and have a diameter of 3m.
Yulia Chizhova, executive director of JSC AEM-Technology, said the MBIR project is unique and thus «tests the company’s skills and ability to meet technological challenges quickly».
The MBIR is a 150 MWt, sodium-cooled fast reactor and will have a design life of up to 50 years. It will be a multi-loop research reactor capable of testing lead, lead-bismuth and gas coolants, and running on MOX (mixed uranium and plutonium oxide) fuel. NIIAR intends to set up on-site closed fuel cycle facilities for the MBIR, using pyrochemical reprocessing it has developed at pilot scale.
AEM-Technology started the manufacture of the reactor pressure vessel for MBIR in March last year and has said that construction of the demonstration reactor should be completed by 2020.