High-temperature gas-cooled reactors

Currently, nuclear power based on the pressurized water reactor technology occupies a rightful place in the area of electricity generation. Development of fast reactors ensures a more stable position of nuclear power in this area. Meanwhile, more than 60% of all fuel resources are used by the industry to generate process heat, by the vehicles to be fuel for engines and for district heating.

It is possible to expand the nuclear power market in the non-electric area by deploying high-temperature gas-cooled reactors. Design features of these reactors allow obtaining helium coolant temperatures of up to 950(C that was validated by operating experience of non-Russian gas-cooled reactors.

This specific feature makes it possible to use this heat for different branches of industry (chemistry, oil chemistry, oil refining, stimulation of viscous oil production, metallurgy, etc.).

High temperature makes it possible to produce hydrogen out of water as fuel for vehicles and as a chemical agent for industry.

It is promising to implement a highly efficient direct gas turbine cycle (~50%) and simultaneously use rejected heat for district heating.

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JSC “Afrikantov OKBM” has been making developments in the area of high-temperature reactors for more than 40 years. A considerable amount of R&D has been done at the company; more than 70 test facilities were made in cooperation to validate HTGR projects.

Together with Russian enterprises, several HTGR projects of different purpose and power were developed. Among them is a VG-400 nuclear station for combined generation of process heat and electricity in the steam turbine cycle, a VGM modular reactor for generation of process heat with the temperature of up to 900(C and electricity, a VGM-P nuclear station for power supply to the standard oil refining complex, a GT-MHR high-temperature modular reactor with the closed gas turbine cycle for electricity generation, a HTGR modular reactor for MGR-T process application. NRC “Kurchatov Institute” is a scientific adviser of projects. The unit power of state-of-the-art projects of high-temperature gas-cooled modular reactors is up to ~ 600 MW.

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For the testing of unique equipment, large experimental stands are used


Safety is ensured and high temperatures at the reactor outlet are reached thanks to the usage of the following:

  • inert, non-activated helium coolant;
  • fuel based on microspheres with multi-layer heat resistant and radiation resistant coatings to reliably contain fission products in all operation modes, including emergency modes;
  • fuel temperature and power negative feedback;
  • temperature-resistant graphite-based structural materials for the core and reflectors.

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The flexible fuel cycle implemented in the HTGR technology allows use of uranium-based, plutonium-based, thorium-based fuel, including MOX fuel without changing the core design and ensures high burnup of this fuel. High burnup excludes usage of the fuel element interior for military purposes.

The HTGR core can be made up of prismatic fuel assemblies with refueling outages or of spherical fuel elements which can be reloaded without reducing reactor power.

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Spherical microtrule

HTGR Application Areas

  • Power-technological application
    Supply of heat for industrial processes of different power-intensive branches of industry. Transition to ecologically clean hydrogen power and hydrogen economy. A nuclear hydrogen concept based on the HTGR will solve issues of large-scale generation of fresh water in a more effective way as other technologies. Exceptional properties of hydrogen ensure a prospect for hydrogen wide application in different branches of power industry, for vehicles and in other branches of industry.
  • Electricity generation
    Highly efficient electricity generation—combining of the HTGR with a gas turbine or steam turbine cycle with supercritical parameters at the steam temperature of up to ~600°C. The efficiency of electricity generated for small and medium consumers is up to 50%.
  • Cogeneration
    Combined generation of electricity and heat. A wide range of possibilities for generating and utilizing electricity makes the HTGR heat available factor close to 100%.

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HTGR application options

Small-Size HTGR Application Options

The reactor and gas turbine plant with the helium turbine arranged in a single unit can be used as a compact autonomous power sources for over-water, underwater and hard-to-reach surface installations located far from the external infrastructure.

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Autonomous power source for underwater and hard-to-reach surface installations

Basic technical specifications of the subglacial nuclear power plant with the HTGR intended for the Arctic region:

Specification Value
Useful unit electric power, MW 8–25
Depth of submersion, m up to 400
Assigned total service life, years 30
Assigned service life until factory repair, years 15

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Example layout of the power supply unit for the subglacial drilling rig under conditions of the Arctic region

The main competitive advantages of the HTGR NPP are effective electricity generation, complete autonomy, and long-term operation without personnel and without refueling.

OKBM’s Experience in the Area of the HTGR

State program in the area of nuclear and hydrogen power OKBM
Rosenergoatom  Agreement
VG-400 VGM
(modular type)
(modular type)
(modular type)
(modular type)
Year 1987 1989 1996 2004 2002
Purpose Heat and electricity generation for industrial processes Heat and electricity generation for industrial processes Heat generation for the oil refinery Hydrogen and electricity generation Generation of electricity and heat for district heating
Thermal power, MW 1060 200 215 600 600
Coolant in the intermediate circuit Helium Helium Helium Helium
Helium temperature at the core outlet, (C 950 950 750 950 850
Status Basic design Basic design Technical proposal Technical proposal Preliminary design, development of key technologies

The technical solutions included in the draft HTGR and GT-MGR are provided with legal protection and today Afrikantov OKBM JSC is the right holder:
  • 1 of the invention,

  • 9 computer programs,

  • 1 database,

  • 41 production secret.