Europe Preparing to Refuse from russian Nuclear Fuel

The State Scientific and Technical Center for Nuclear and Radiation Safety (SSTC NRS) joins the European project, which is implemented with the financial support of the European Commission and is aimed at ensuring safe supply of Westinghouse fuel for VVER reactors, including both VVER-1000 and VVER-440 ones. We are talking about both the VVER-1000 and VVER-440 reactors. 

The kick-off meeting under the APIS project was held at the end of February in Västerös (Sweden) at the Westinghouse Electric Sweden (WES) premises. 

The APIS project primarily focuses on development of a new generation fuel design and regulatory documentation for its implementation at VVER-type reactors of European countries that seek to reduce, or even eliminate, dependence on russia. 

The SSTC NRS will be involved the 7 out of 11 Work Packages and will lead the Work Package that will study the impact of the introduction of new generation fuel on the long-term operation of power units. It is also expected that the SSTC NRS specialists will participate in knowledge dissemination activities. 

It should be noted that Ukraine has a unique experience in fuel diversification for the VVER-1000 type reactors. Currently, 7 VVER-1000 cores are loaded with Westinghouse fuel. Rivne NPP VVER-440 units 1 and 2 are next in line. It is envisaged that already in the spring, power unit 2 will start operating with the American fuel in the core. 

Currently, preparatory activities for the introduction of American fuel are also underway at the Kozloduy NPP (Bulgaria). 

In order to further implement the project, Westinghouse Electric Company and the Spanish company Enusa signed a cooperation agreement to fabricate fuel for VVER-440 reactors. Enusa plans to complete construction of the production line for the new fuel at the Juzbado plant and obtain a license this year, which will allow fuel deliveries as early as at the beginning of 2024.  

Westinghouse and Enusa are expected to fabricate the fuel at their plants in Västerås, Sweden, and Huzbado, Spain. 

Westinghouse fuel offers several advantages, including high manufacturability. In the event of individual fuel rod depressurization, American fuel rods can be replaced and the fuel assembly can be returned to operation. In contrast, russian fuel assemblies become unsuitable for further use in such situations. Additionally, Westinghouse fuel can increase the capacity of NPP power units to 105-110%. 

The APIS project implementation period is 3 years, and during this time it is expected to develop all the necessary regulatory documentation for licensing and loading of Westinghouse fuel into VVER cores of European NPPs. 

According to SSTC NRS