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Fast Neutron Reactors

Fast neutron reactors with a closed fuel cycle will play a dominating role in the structure of the future nuclear power. They can provide almost 100-fold increase in the efficiency of natural uranium utilization, thus removing any limits in nuclear power development, which may be caused by shortage of natural resources of nuclear fuel.

OKBM started working in the field of fast neutron reactors in 1960, when development of the first pilot power reactor BN-350 design was commenced. The reactor was started up in 1973 and operated until 1998.

BN-600 Reactor (central) Hall

A more powerful BN-600 nuclear reactor (600 MW(e)) was commissioned at the Beloyarsk NPP in 1980. It continues successful operation even now, being the largest reactor of this type in the world.


Fast Neutron Reactor BN-800 (vertical section)

In 1983, basing on the BN-600, OKBM developed an advanced design of the BN-800 reactor for a 800 MW(e) power unit. In 1984, construction of two BN-800 reactors was initiated at the Beloyarsk and South-Ural NPPs. The following delay in the construction was used for design debugging in order to further enhance its safety and improve its technical and economic performance.
Construction of BN-800 reactor at the Beloyarsk NPP (Power Unit 4) was recommenced in 2006, and is to be completed in 2015.
The BN-800 reactor is designed for uranium-plutonium fuel cycle and can be used for effective disposal of weapons-grade and reactor-grade plutonium and burning of actinides and long-lived fission products, which make up the most dangerous portion of nuclear industry radioactive wastes. Innovative engineering solutions and new kinds of equipment can also be tested in this reactor in real operating conditions. To further enhance safety and improve technical and economic performance of fast neutron reactors, OKBM is developing an advanced large commercial BN reactor design.

Building Yard of the Beloyarsk NPP Power Unit 4 (May2010)



















Building Yard of the Beloyarsk NPP Power Unit 4 (January2014)


JSC "Afrikantov OKBM" develops an advanced design of the commercial BN-1200 reactor for a 1200 MW(e) power unit.

BN-1200 Reactor (vertical section)

Prospected programme of the BN-1200 project includes:

  • 2010…2016 – development of reactor final design and performance of R&D.
  • 2020 – commissionning of the first power unit with МОХ fuel, organization of centralized manufacture.
  • 2023…2030 – commissionning of a small series of power units with a total power of about 11 GW.

Along with the decisions positively confirmed during the operating experience of BN-600 and BN-800, BN-1200 reactor accumulates new solutions directed on the further improvement of technico-economic figures and safety increase.

The optimum combination of referential and new decisions and the expanded fuel production possibility allow to carry this project to IV Generation nuclear technologies

The company actively participates in the international cooperation in the sphere of fast neutron reactor engineering. Being the main contractor for the development and manufacture of basic equipment for the Chinese experimental fast neutron reactor (CEFR), OKBM participated in the CEFR physical and power startup in 2011 and still offers consultations on it's operation.

Read more: Beloyarskaya NPP and fast-neutron reactors

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.

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.


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.

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.

 vtgr01Spherical fuel element

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%.

vtgr02HTGR 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.

vtgr03 vtgr04Autonomous 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

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

Read more: High-temperature gas-cooled reactors and Hydrogene energy


Production Nuclear Reactors. Experimental Facilities

The development of production nuclear reactors was reasoned by demands for special nuclear materials (plutonium and tritium) for the nuclear weapons production program. The first production uranium-graphite reactor (PUGR) "A" was developed and put into operation at PO "Mayak" in 1948. OKBM developed the refueling system for that reactor.
Starting from 1948, OKBM, already General Designer, developed a series of PUGR and heavy-water reactor (HWR) designs. In the 1950s, 4 PUGRs and 2 HWRs were constructed based on those designs in Seversk, Zheleznogorsk and Ozersk.
At the same time, three experimental HWRs were developed and put into operation at the Institute of Theoretical and Experimental Physics (ITEP, Moscow), and in nuclear research centers in Yugoslavia and China.
In the 1960s, OKBM developed the new-generation PUGR design to provide weapons-grade plutonium production along with electricity and heat co-generation for industrial and civil objects. These were among the first nuclear cogeneration plants in the world. All in all, five nuclear reactors of this type were constructed. The last of them, having exceeded its design service life more than two times, is still operating and producing heat and electricity for Zheleznogorsk.
During the last years, in accordance with the US-Russian Agreement on the termination of weapons-grade plutonium production in the currently operating PUGR reactors, OKBM in cooperation with other enterprises under Rosatom Corporation was developing PUGR reactor cores conversion designs.
At the same time, a complex of activities was performed to enhance safety and evaluate the residual life of these reactors. At present, unique activities on decommissioning of the shutdown PUGR reactors are in progress.
A new important step in the development of heavy-water nuclear reactor technology was construction of the advanced L-2 HWR in 1988 to replace three previously decommissioned production HWRs. Also, the task of changing the L-2 reactor to the commercial mode of operation to arrange mass production of radioactive isotopes for industrial, medical and scientific applications on the domestic and foreign markets was successfully solved with participation of OKBM.
OKBM actively participates in development of innovative reactor technologies. In 1993-2004, OKBM performed design development, manufactured and delivered equipment for the "Neutron generator", experimental sub-critical reactor, which is currently being constructed at ITEP. This reactor will be used for research of electronuclear processes for future development of a new type of reactors – sub-critical electronuclear.

JSC «Afrikantov OKBM» actively participates in working out of the innovative reactor technologies. In 1993-2004 the enterprise developed, manufactured and delivered to the customer - ФГУП «ГНЦ Russian Federation ИТЭФ» - the equipment for the experimental subcritical reactor "The Electronuclear Generator of Neutrons ", which will serve as the testing facility for the technology of conducting electronuclear processes for the purposes of subsequent creation of new subcritical electronuclear reactors for nuclear-power engineering of the future.

Electronuclear Neutrons Generator, basic diagram
И - injector, НЧУ, ОЧУ - accelerator cavities, ОС - radiation source


The experience gained by OKBM during more than 50 years of work in the area of production reactor technologies is widely used in the development of reactor plants of various types and applications..

klt veb Marine Nuclear Power Plants

Russia is the only country in the world that has a fleet of civil nuclear-powered ships. Nuclear icebreakers have been operating in the Arctic region for more than 50 years, thus providing reliable and safe pilotage of cargo ships along the entire North Sea Route.

The first reactor plant for a civil vessel, the "Lenin" nuclear icebreaker, was designed by OKBM in 1955. The Arctic navigation of the icebreaker started in 1959 and continued until 1989 resulting in the pilotage of 3700 vessels in ice fields, which confirmed the high efficiency of the nuclear energy application for icebreakers.

The successful operation of the first nuclear-powered icebreaker initiated a new branch of industry, the nuclear shipbuilding. Eight more nuclear-powered icebreakers ("Arctica", "Siberia", "Russia", "Soviet Union", "Taymyr", "Vaygach", "Yamal", "50 Let Pobedy") and "Sevmorput" ocean-going lighter with ice reinforcement were built in Russia between 1975 and 2006.
OKBM developed 3 RP modifications for them: OK-900A, KLT-40, KLT-40M. The whole set of systems and equipment for these RPs was developed and commissioned with participation of OKBM specialists.


The Russian nuclear-powered icebreaking fleet keeps developing. OKBM creates new-generation reactor designs for prospective nuclear icebreakers. At the present time, final design is being completed of the reactor plant for a versatile double-draft icebreaker. After 2015, a series of such ships will replace linear icebreakers and those with the limited draft, which will have completed their service life by that time.

Read more: Versatile nuclear ice-breaker


Reactor Plants for Navy Ships



Reactors for Small and Medium Power Stations

Based on the experience in development and improvement of marine nuclear reactors, a number of reactor plant designs have been developed by OKBM for small-sized autonomous nuclear power sources ranging from 6 to 100 MW(e). Those are ABV-6E, KLT-40S, ATETs-80. The plants are intended for combined electricity and heat supply to isolated consumers (both communal and industrial) in remote areas where fuel delivery is too costly. In Russia, those are spacious low-populated areas and ports along the North Sea Route and the Far East Coast, fields of mineral deposits, military bases etc. Outside Russia, those are coastal areas in the developing countries. The application of this type energy sources for seawater desalination in areas lacking fresh water has also been found appropriate.
The ABV-6E and KLT-40S reactor plant designs that are most ready for deployment imply the arrangement of the nuclear power plant on land or on a non-self-propelled watercraft.

Such a floating power unit (FPU) is assembled completely at a shipyard with the use of a well-developed technology of constructing atomic icebreakers and navy ships. After completing comprehensive tests and customer's acceptance procedure, an FPU is tugged to the moorings where it is connected to the coastal network to start operation. The floating design allows decreasing the scope and cost of capital construction in the area of NPP location. The customer receives environmentally friendly heat and electrical energy, while the matters of nuclear waste storage, qualified NPP maintenance and decommissioning on completion of its service life are solved by the plant operator (user) on the nuclear fleet maintenance facilities available in Russia.
In order to demonstrate this technology in practice, a pilot FPU with KLT-40S reactor plant (the prototype of which is the reactor plant installed in operating ice-breakers) is currently being constructed to supply heat and electricity to Pevek.

Read more: FNPP "Academic Lomonosov"

In order to supply electricity and heat power to communal and industrial objects in a number of regions in Russia (in the European part, Ural, Siberia, Far East), OKBM developed a small reactor plant design, VBER-300, with the modular PWR and well-developed passive safety systems.
The VBER-300 ideally combines the latest achievements in the nuclear marine technology including the reactor unit and pressurized primary circuit with traditional nuclear industry solutions (VVER-1000) related to the core and fuel cycle, which meet all major requirements for safety, reliability and efficiency of next-generation nuclear stations.
The reactor unit layout principles incorporated in the design make it possible to minimize the buffer area during construction of stationary power sources.
The important feature of VBER-300 RP is that it can be used as a basis for development of nuclear stations from 100 to 600 MW (e) with the use of unified solutions for the main equipment. It facilitates to the maximum extent the way to achieve the goals of the Energy Strategy of Russia concerning the enhancement of the regional nuclear industry.

Read more: Regional power engineerimg