Scientific Research and Testing Complex of JSC “Afrikantov OKBM” Mikhail Kamnev Interview

Scientific Research and Testing Complex of JSC “Afrikantov OKBM” Mikhail Kamnev Interview

Having a big modern complex of specialized laboratories equipped with unique experimental test facilities JSC “Afrikantov OKBM” provides solving of complex tasks during research and development works related to creation of nuclear power objects, special purpose nuclear power plants, and solving inter-industry problems. The head of the Scientific Research and Testing Complex (SRTC) of JSC “Afrikantov OKBM” Mikhail Kamnev told us about creation of products in OKBM, and what is the role of the SRTC in this process.

- Mikhail, tell us about the complex approach of OKBM to the creation of articles, and which are the researches carried out at the test complex of the organization?

- JSC “Afrikantov OKBM” realizes full scope of works at all stages of the life cycle of the created articles - design development, fabrication, testing, maintenance and analytical follow-up of operation. The whole scope of research and tests is implemented in the Scientific Research and Testing Complex of the organization during creation and follow-up of various reactor power plants and individual equipment of common plant systems. SRTC is a complex of unique experimental test facilities, which are maintained by certified and highly qualified personnel (engineering personnel is 76% of SRTC workers). SRTC works together with design, analytical and production departments of the organization.

If we are going to speak about research and testing, which are carried out in the test complex, it is necessary to mention that the nomenclature and quantity of equipment, which passed the test, increased in 2017 - 2018. For example, number of articles, which passed acceptance tests, was 20% higher in 2018 than in 2015. Besides, SRTC carries out the works related to experimental validation of design solutions. In 2018 there is carried out life time testing of the TVS-K mockups for 3000 hours, also thermo-cyclic tests are completed for the model of the hermetic seal unit of the steam cavity of the steam generator cassette of a new design, and characteristics of TVS-K 4х4 are examined with basic and upgraded mixing vane. The specialist of the testing complex participated in the loading of the core, its neutron-physics tests and the first start-up of the floating power unit KLT-40S.

- Let's speak about the structure and possibilities of the experimental base of SRTC in detail.

- The structure of the Scientific Research and Testing Complex includes five specialized laboratories: Thermal hydraulics and mechanical testing; critical systems (assemblies) and thermal physics; instrumentation systems; department of operation of the engineering and technological systems and equipment; and the management and work organization department, The SRTC experimental base consists of 104 test facilities, which are located in five buildings with total area 20.5 thousand sq. m.

The specialized laboratories execute a wide spectrum of research. This is the research of neutron physics characteristics of cores, thermal physics processes in fuel assemblies, reactor plants, in the containment and safety system circuits with validation of design solutions, study of the thermal hydraulic properties of core elements, including life time hydraulic properties of FA’s, and examination of tribotechnical characteristics of various materials in normal and extreme ambient conditions.

One of the most important profiles of JSC “Afrikantov OKBM” in the frames of design and creation of power plants is development and complex scientific and technical validation of power plant cores. This profile includes design of a structure, validation of mechanical strength, physics and thermal technical characteristics of cores, nuclear safety and life time reliability, execution of necessary calculations and experimental research on the test facilities. Research and validation of the neutron physics characteristics of cores, designed in JSC “Afrikantov OKBM”, are carried in two criticality test facilities. These facilities permit to carry out ‘cold’ and ‘hot’ tests of full scale cores of pressurized water reactors of the propulsion designation. Preliminary, acceptance and interdepartamental test of pilot cores are carried out to check conformance of the neutron physics characteristics to the design values and meeting the requirements of the nuclear safety. As per this results the final layout of the core with burnable absorber and its hydraulic profiling are determined.

Also physical models are used to research neutron physics characteristics and nuclear safety of the designed cores to optimize their composition, scheme of profiling with the burnable absorber, structure of working members of the control and protection system, and verification of the analytical and calculation codes.

The test facility base of SRTC of the thermal physics branch permits to carry out research of critical thermal fluxes, thermal hydraulic characteristics and hydraulic resistance with FA models, thermal technical, hydrodynamics and hydraulic characteristics of the cassettes and steam generator models, and to research processes in the containment of a nuclear plant and passive heat removal systems.

A wide spectrum of tests are carried out in the Scientific Research and Testing Complex for the designed equipment - canned pumps, pump aggregates and sealing units, steam generators and heat exchanging equipment, control rod drive mechanisms, special power valves and safety devices, fuel handling equipment for PWR and fast breeder reactors and propulsion plants.

- What are the advantages of the infrastructure of the test facility base?

- An important role plays location of the designers of test facilities and production facilities at the same site. This significantly reduces time and financial costs for repair, modification, upgarding of the test facilities and obtaining required clearance documents from Rostechnadzor and State Corporation Rosatom.

- Do results of your research require passing special certification procedure?

SRTC carries out tests according to the scope of accreditation to confirm conformance of products to the requirements related to the general industrial safety requirements and in the sphere of nuclear power application.

- Can you share the plans of SRTC development with us?

One of the key areas of development of the Scientific Research and Testing Complex is increase of the labor efficiency during equipment testing. It will be reached not only due to introduction of modern technologies, upgrade and re-equipping of the experimental base, but also due to further development of the Rosatom’s production system at SRTC site. The teams are created for support of changes, which work will permit to reduce the time of processes of various tests with the required quality of executed works. For example, in 2019 there is realized the project with many tests of control rod drive mechanisms. The development of SRTC is also not possible without digital technologies. We have planned the creation of an integrated center of test equipment control. Considering quite significant distribution of the test equipment along the organization territory, introducing of such center will permit the operating personnel to monitor the operation of several test facilities from one place, and this will reduce needless moving of the personnel and number of the maintenance staff in the shifts.

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