Fast neutron reactors

JSC “Afrikantov OKBM” began the works on fast reactors in 1960 by designing the first pilot power BN-350 reactor in Shevchenko (now Aktau, the Republic of Kazakhstan).

BN-350. World's First Pilot Fast Power Reactor

1973.pngThe BN-350 reactor was developed based on the experience of creating and operating the BR-5 experimental reactor built in 1959 on the premises of the Institute of Physics and Power Engineering (IPPE, Obninsk, Kaluga region) and the experience of developing the BOR-60 research reactor commissioned in the RIAR in 1969 (Melekess, now Dimitrovgrad, Ulyanovsk region). All power reactors were developed under the scientific guidance of the IPPE.

The reactor power startup was performed in 1973, it was decommissioned in 1999.

The operation of the BN-350 unit proved high power fast reactors reliable and safe. The continuous operation of the reactor made it possible to accumulate extensive information about the serviceability of the core, equipment, and safety systems, which ensured a reliable base for the development of future fast reactor designs.

BN-600. Over 35 Years of Successful Operation

The key plant demonstrating the achieved results and possibilities of further improvement of fast reactors is the power unit with a BN-600 reactor with electrical power of 600 MW (Unit 3 of the Beloyarsk NPP, Zarechny, Sverdlovsk region).

In this project, a fundamental decision was made to move from a loop arrangement of the primary circuit to an integrated one, in which all primary circuit equipment is placed inside the reactor pressure vessel, which increased its safety and reliability. The power startup of Unit 3 took place in April 1980.

BN-600 is the world’s only fast reactor of a production power level that has been successfully operated in a commercial mode for about 40 years. The capacity factor (CF) of the unit has been maintained at a steady high level of 75 — 80% over a long period of operation. Unscheduled losses amount to less than 2.2%. There is no release of long-living gas-aerosol radionuclides to the environment. The release of inert radioactive gases is currently negligible and amounts to <1% of the permissible as per the sanitary regulations.

1980.pngIn the course of operation, Unit 3 demonstrates high performance, hence meets the challenge to validate the reliability and safety of sodium-cooled fast reactors at a production level. BN-600 was recognized the best among the country's power units three times in terms of reliability and safety.

In April 2010, the reactor fully completed its design lifetime of 30 years. The reactor plant structure had retained sufficient serviceability, which allowed obtaining a service life extension license for 10 years with a perspective on further extension.

JSC “Afrikantov OKBM,” being the chief designer of the BN-600 reactor, supports its operation at the Beloyarsk NPP by addressing with the Beloyarsk NPP and other organizations the issues of ensuring its reliable and safe operation during the entire lifecycle.

In 2018, the employees of JSC “Afrikantov OKBM” were awarded the Prize of the Government of the Russian Federation in the field of science and technology for their work "Improving the efficiency of operation and radiation safety of the BN-600 reactor plant, using the experience gained for advanced designs of sodium-cooled fast reactors."

BN-800. The Base Project to Develop the Technologies

of Closed Nuclear Fuel Cycle

In 1983, the company developed a BN-800 reactor design for the power unit with electrical power of 830 MW. In 1984, the construction of two BN-800 reactors began: at the Beloyarsk NPP and the South Ural NPP.

Subsequent delays in the construction of these reactors were used to develop the design in order to improve the technical and economic performance and further improve safety. Having practically the same dimensions as the BN-600 reactor pressure vessel, its thermal power was increased by 45% and, accordingly, the electric power was brought up to 880 MW.

2015.pngThe BN-800 construction was resumed in 2006, and in 2015 the power startup of Beloyarsk 4 took place.

Thanks to the experience gained and the production facilities created, JSC "Afrikantov OKBM" ensured the organization of manufacturing and delivery of reactor plant equipment during the construction of the power unit acting as a complete supplier, with a significant part of the equipment manufactured at the enterprise itself.

BN-800 is designed to ensure the development of elements of the closed nuclear fuel cycle for the transition to a new process platform. The transition to the closed nuclear fuel cycle will enable several important problems to be solved:

  • to involve in the fuel cycle the plutonium produced by uranium-238, the main isotope of natural uranium, irradiated in nuclear reactors, and thereby to repeatedly expand the reactor base of the nuclear power industry;
  • to ensure the transition to a two-component nuclear power industry that will make effective use of both mastered reactors and newly introduced fast reactors;
  • to minimize radioactive waste by afterburning the long-living isotopes contained in it.

In 2016, the power unit reached its design power and was put into commercial operation. Since then, BN-800 has become the world’s most powerful operating fast power reactor.

BN-1200. Fast Reactor Area

Development Prospects

The development and implementation of the BN-350, BN-600 and BN-800 designs made it possible to create an effective design and production infrastructure that became the basis for the subsequent development of the BN technology during the development of the BN-1200 commercial design.

BN-1200 optimally combines reference and new technical solutions and possesses the level of safety corresponding to the requirements for the plants of generation IV and higher economic efficiency in comparison with the BN reactor plants of the previous generations.

JSC “Afrikantov OKBM” is the chief designer of the BN-1200 reactor plant. The company ensures that the required R&D is coordinated and optimal solutions for the reactor plant and power unit are effectively developed.

In 2016, within the framework of the BN-1200 basic design, the main research and development works were completed, as well as the development of the reactor plant technical design.

The BN-1200 design documentation passed the industry assessment, the results of which in general confirmed the conclusions of the developers that the BN-1200 design meets the requirements of the TA, and the technical and economic characteristics of the BN-1200 reactor plant are comparable with VVER reactor plants.

Currently, the works on BN-1200 are in progress in order to improve its competitiveness in relation to modern NPPs and traditional and renewable electric power sources. New design solutions for equipment and layout systems in the reactor building are considered, which make it possible to significantly improve technical and economic characteristics. To validate new design solutions, experimental and design works are carried out.

The implementation of a complex of works planned within the framework of the R&D Program under the project will make it possible to create a serial commercial power unit meeting the requirements of competitiveness in relation to various types of power sources to ensure the implementation of the Strategy for the Development of the Nuclear Power Industry of Russia in terms of creating a two-component power system based on the VVER and BN technologies.

History of BN Reactors in Russia

география ру бн_EN.jpg

The evolution of the main technical characteristics of BN power reactors with regard to the development of their designs and accumulation of operating experience is presented in the table below.





Rated thermal power, MW



Not less than 2800

Electrical power, gross, MW



Not less than 1220

Fuel type

uranium dioxide (UO2)

uranium and plutonium dioxide (UPuO2)

uranium and plutonium dioxide /

uranium and plutonium nitride (UPuO2/UPuN)

Efficiency factor, gross/net, %

42.5 / 40

41.9 / 38.8

43.5 / 40.7

JSC “Afrikantov OKBM” is an active participant in international cooperation on fast reactors. The company developed the technical design of the reactor plant and was a chief contractor for the development and manufacture of the main equipment of the Chinese Experimental Fast Reactor (CEFR).

Currently, JSC “Afrikantov OKBM” has concluded a number of contracts for works within the framework of the CFR-600 fast neutron reactor project in the PRC.

Possible variants of mutually beneficial cooperation in the BN area with other foreign partners, who are seriously interested in the creation of the BN reactor plant of high capacity, are being considered.

The technical solutions incorporated in the projects of BN reactor plants are provided with legal protection, and today JSC "Afrikantov OKBM" is the right holder of the following:

1.      In the BN-800 reactor plant project:

2 utility models,

108 know-hows.

2.      In the BN-1200 reactor plant project:

5 utility models,

14 pieces of software,

1 data base,

99 know-hows.

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