Reactor Cores and Nuclear Fuel

Development and comprehensive scientific and technical justification of nuclear reactor cores is one of the major independent areas of OKBM activities in the design and development of power plants for nuclear-powered icebreakers, warships and submarines, as well as small nuclear plants. This activity includes fuel and core design development; validation of mechanical strength, physical and thermotechnical characteristics of reactor cores, nuclear safety and long-term reliability; performance of required analyses and experiments on test facilities.

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Equipment for handling nuclear fuel


The aforementioned activities are performed in cooperation with the leading scientific institutes of the nuclear industry, and in the first place with JSC “VNIINM”, RRC "Kurchatov Institute", SSC RF “NIIAR” and industrial enterprises such as JSC “MSZ” and JSC “MZP”.

More than twenty reactor core designs have been developed by OKBM since the day when the first KLT-40 type reactor for the civil nuclear-powered vessels was put into operation in 1970. The designs were brought to the fabrication and operation stages, which provided continuous improvement of their lifetime, technical and economic characteristics.

Nowadays, the commercial reactor cores for nuclear-powered icebreakers provide their intensive operation for 5 to 7 years without fission product release to the coolant. It ensures the high radiation-protection and environmental characteristics of reactor plants.

Active zones for operating and under construction submarines that meet the existing and future requirements of the Navy for reliability, safety, economy, campaign duration and service life, and durability under conditions of extreme external influences have been developed and put into serial production.

The team of developers of active zones of OKBM Afrikantov JSC jointly with VNIINM JSC, SRC Kurchatov Institute and PJSC MSZ developed and approved in 2008 a technical project of a cluster active zone meeting international non-proliferation requirements for the world's first floating nuclear power plant on the basis of the RU KLT-40S ("Academician Lomonosov").

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The floating nuclear power plant "Akademik Lomonosov"

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Two manufactured core sets for PEB in 2011 have successfully passed acceptance tests and are planned for loading into the reactors of PEB in 2019.

In 2014, based on the advanced cluster TVS, a technical design of the core for the universal nuclear icebreaker project 22220 (the "Arctic") under construction was developed and approved. In 2016, two manufactured sets were neutron-physical tests at the stand of JSC "Afrikantov OKBM", and in 2017 will be prepared for loading into the UAL reactors.

Based on the scientific and technical potential gained by the OKBM reactor core design team, in cooperation with JSC MSZ, JSC “VNIINM” and RRC "Kurchatov Institute", and under the leadership of JSC “TVEL”, an advanced TVSA fuel assembly for VVER-1000 reactors was developed. It provides better geometrical stability of reactor cores with high fuel burnup and meets the requirements for advanced fuel cycles. All TVSA design characteristics were confirmed by pre-reactor and reactor tests, which makes it possible to implement the economically efficient fuel cycles of as much as 6-year duration, with the capacity factor of 0.85 to 0.92 and average burnup not less than 60 MW∙day/kg U.

The positive results of operation and the potential of further upgrading make the TVSA a preferable and competitive type of nuclear fuel both on the domestic market and on traditional foreign markets. It has been supported by the fact that TVSA won the international tender for nuclear fuel delivery to the Temelin NPP in Czech Republic, and by large-scale introduction of the TVSA into VVER-1000 power units in the Ukraine and Bulgaria.

High technical and economic indicators and successful introduction of the fuel assembly of TVSA developed by JSC OKBM Afrikantov together with enterprises of JSC TVEL for the domestic WWER-1000 reactor created prerequisites for the development of a competitive TVS-SQUARE design for foreign reactors of the PWR type.

Since 2003, JSC "Afrikantov OKBM" under contracts with JSC "TVEL" has performed a significant amount of development work. The results obtained allowed the operators of NPPs with PWR to come out with a proposal to conduct a pilot operation of the TVS-SQUARE. This proposal has attracted interest from a number of NPP operators with PWR, including the Swedish operator VATTENFALL (Sweden). Design materials were developed and licensing was conducted in Swedish supervisory authorities.

In May 2014, 4 TVS-SQUARE series LFA were put into operation in the active zone of Block No. 3 of the "Ringhals" NPP. At present 4 TVS-SQUARE are located in the active zone of Block 3 of NPP "Ringhals" on the second cycle of operation. 

Based on the results of operation, a decision can be made to supply TVS-SQUARE in the amount of the full feed to the nuclear power plant "Ringhals". The work on the topic "Columbus" using TVS-SQUARE in 4 loop reactor PWR USA was developed.

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