Alexander Ugryumov, senior vice-president (R&D) of Rosatom’s fuel company TVEL, made the presentation that covered key developments that may enhance efficiency of the functioning units of the Kudankulam N-plant as well as the units under construction. In particular, it embraced new materials and models of nuclear fuel, solutions for higher uranium enrichment and technologies of closed nuclear fuel cycle.
Kudankulam is one of the largest nuclear power projects in the country and is scheduled to have six Russian VVER-1000 reactors with an installed capacity of 1,000MW each. While Kudankulam unit-1 was connected to the southern power grid in October 2013, unit-2 was linked to the grid in August 2016. Power units No 3,4 and 5,6 are the second and the third stages of the plant that are under construction.
This year, TVEL started exports of the more advanced TVS-2M fuel to India, instead of the UTVS model, previously supplied to Kudankulam. Introduction of the new fuel enables elongation of the reactors’ operation between refuellings from 12 to 18 months, which would essentially enhance the performance and economic efficiency of the power plant.
Ugryumov stressed that introduction of nuclear fuel with enrichment of over the 5% level will enable operations of VVER-1000 reactors for a longer fuel cycle of 24 months. Extending the fuel cycle means that a power plant may stop reactors for refuelling less frequently and thus generate more electricity per year and will purchase fewer fresh fuel assemblies and also offload less irradiated fuel bundles (handling of spent fuel also requires expenses).
Using fuel with uranium enrichment of over 5% may also decrease the amount spent annually for replacing fuel bundles, which would provide a significant economic impact on the power units.