Rosatom hosting “Breakthrough Technologies for a Sustainable Future” event at EXPO in Dubai

At the ongoing EXPO 2020 in Dubai, UAE, the Russian atomic energy corporation Rosatom is hosting a week-long programme titled “Breakthrough Technologies for a Sustainable Future” from January 17-24, 2022. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, EXPO 2020 is currently being held between October 1, 2021, till March 31, 2022. 

According to a Rosatom release, the “Breakthrough Technologies for a Sustainable Future” programme will highlight a wide range of technologies and their applications – including the latest nuclear innovations – aimed at improving the quality of life and helping to tackle global social, economic and environmental challenges. 

The programme kicked off on January 17 with a discussion on the “Human-Centricity Index” and on promoting nuclear engineering education through international partnerships. Senior experts from Rosatom, DP World, the International Organisation of Employers, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Singularity University (USA), Khalifa University (UAE), Higher School of Economics (Russia), International Youth Nuclear Congress (IYNC), as well leading higher educational institutions of Russia, Italy and the UK participated in a series of events. 

With sustainable shipping as another key theme of the programme, the Northern Transit Corridor session on January 19 saw international experts, including representatives from Rosatom, DP World and the World Ocean Council, discuss the opportunities for commercial shipping along the Northern Sea Route and how to mitigate any impact on the Arctic environment. 

The session on “Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) Construction in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) Region: Prospects of Cooperation” on January 19 focused on current large-scale NPP projects in the MENA and regional cooperation in the nuclear sector to help implement nuclear power programmes in countries newly adopting nuclear technology.   

January 20, 2022, was designated as “Small Modular Reactors (SMR) Day”, while another event examined the advantages of this technology and how it could help bring low-carbon energy to the world’s most remote regions. Along with conventional NPPs, Rosatom is at the forefront of developing SMR technology. 

The “Net Zero: Achievement Points, Experience and Approaches” session on January 21 will be dedicated to decarbonisation – one of the biggest issues facing the world – and will review the outcomes of the UN Conference of Parties (COP26) meeting on climate change held recently in Glasgow, UK.  

The Rosatom statement said that during the event dedicated to decarbonisation, international experts will discuss climate regulation, the steps required to adopt and achieve net zero goals on carbon emission and green financing of low-carbon and sustainable energy, including in developing countries. 

Participants at the Rosatom event will also have the unique opportunity to take part in virtual tours of cutting-edge NPPs, including the Beloyarsk NPP, the only site with the world’s most powerful commercial fast-breeder reactor, the statement added. The virtual tours would include Russian nuclear plants using the Generation III+ VVER-1200 technology at the Novovoronezh and Leningrad NPPs, the world’s only operational floating NPP, and Rosatom fuel arm TVEL’s Machinery Manufacturing Plant responsible for nuclear fuel production. 

“Besides highlighting the applications of nuclear technology, ‘Breakthrough Technologies for a Sustainable Future’ week will showcase how other types of technology – including wind energy, composite materials and quantum computing – can help make sustainability a reality”, Rosatom said.  

“Rosatom’s philosophy is to make the transition to low-carbon energy and a sustainable economy more cost-effective for everyone. We’re looking forward to sharing how nuclear technologies and other innovations make an invaluable contribution to creating a sustainable future for the younger generations during our week of events”, Rosatom Director General Alexey Likhachev said in a statement. 

The broadcast of the events will be available on the official ‘Rosatom Global’ YouTube channel. 

Manufacture of reactor, steam generators for India’s Kudankulam NPP starts in Russia

The manufacture of the nuclear reactor and steam generators for the sixth unit of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP) in India has started in Volgodonsk, Russia, at the facility of Atommash, a subsidiary of the Russian state atomic energy corporation Rosatom, according to an official statement.  

Rosatom is the technical consultant and equipment supplier for the 6 units of the KNPP being built by the state-run Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL). NPCIL is also the operator of the KNPP, units 1 and 2 of which, equipped with VVER-1000 type reactors of 1,000 MW capacity each, have been connected to the grid in 2013 and 2016, respectively.   

A Rosatom statement earlier this week said the reactor and steam generator shells for unit 6 have passed the inspection, while the items are at the initial stage of the manufacturing cycle.  

“Preliminary work for anticorrosive overlay is being carried out on the flange and bottom of the reactor. At the welding unit, protective overlay is applied to the bodies of the primary circuit collector of the steam generator”, the statement said.  

“The reactor is an item of safety of the first class. It is a vertical cylindrical body with an elliptical bottom. The core and internals are located inside the vessel. The vessel is hermetically sealed from above with a cover with drives of mechanisms and control and protection bodies installed on it, as well as nozzles for the output of sensor cables for in-core monitoring”, it said.  

The steam generator is a heat exchanger and a part of the steam generating unit. Its diameter is more than 4 metres, length is about 14 metres, and weighs 340 tons. The set of one NPP power unit includes four steam generators, the statement added.  

For the KNPP units 5 and 6, Atommash will manufacture and supply two nuclear reactors of 1,000 MW capacity each with internals and an upper block of the VVER-1000 type, two sets of steam generators, reactor coolant pump set bodies, main circulation piping, emergency core cooling system tanks, passive core flooding system tanks and two pressurizers. The total weight of the items will be about 6,000 tons. 

The construction of unit 6 was officially launched on December 20, 2021, with the first concreting in the foundation slab of the reactor building at Kudankulam in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.  

The first concrete was poured into the foundation plate of the reactor building for the fifth unit of the KNPP on June 29, 2021, which marked the official commencement of the third phase of construction consisting of units 5 and 6. Phase 2 of the KNPP construction involving units 3 and 4, to be equipped similarly with the Russian-made VVER-1000 reactors of 1,000 MW capacity each, are currently at an advanced stage.  

“The third stage of the Kudankulam NPP will provide additional power capacity to ensure the industrial and commercial development of businesses in the Tamil Nadu region and the Republic of India as a whole; moreover, it will promote more confidence in our friendly countries’ prospects to expand peaceful nuclear cooperation by using the most advanced projects of high-capacity nuclear power units of Russian design”, Rosatom arm ASE’s Vice-President for Projects in India and Prospective Projects, Andrey Lebedev, said in a statement last month.   

The Kudankulam NPP units meet the latest International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safety requirements and the VVER-1000 reactors are equipped with state-of-the-art safety features. 

Largest container terminals in Azov-Black Sea region switch fully to wind energy

In a landmark development on the New Year for Russian state atomic energy corporation Rosatom’s renewable energy business, its wind power division, NovaWind, began supplying wind-generated electricity to DeloPorts from January 1, 2022, with the latter switching its KSK and NUTEP container terminals to electricity generated fully at wind farms. 

KSK and NUTEP, thus, became the first large port infrastructure facilities in Russia to completely switch to renewable energy, a Rosatom statement said. The annual handling capacity of NUTEP is 700 thousand TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units), while the capacity of the KSK grain terminal is up to 7 million tons.  

According to NovaWind, the potential reduction in CO2 emissions due to NUTEP and KSK switching to wind energy is likely to amount to 6.8 and 5.7 thousand tons of CO2 per year, respectively, as compared to traditional natural gas generation.  

The agreement to power the largest terminals in the Azov-Black Sea region of Russia with wind energy was signed in April 2021 between Russia’s largest transport and logistics holding Management Company Delo and Rosatom subsidiary Atomenergoprom.  

“Rosatom is consistently implementing a strategy for low-carbon energy production based on nuclear and wind power generation. NovaWind contributes to reducing carbon footprint in the Russian energy sector and provides partners with additional tools to achieve sustainable development goals”, NovaWind Deputy CEO for Development and International Business, Grigory Nazarov, said in a statement.  

DeloPorts CEO Igor Yakovenko said: “On January 1, 2022, our terminals shifted to electricity generated from wind. The ‘green port’ project is still a work in progress. This is especially important in view of plans to modernise our enterprises: their productivity will go up, while the environmental impact will decrease.” 

According to Rosatom, the “green port” project will enable the use of electricity generated from low-carbon energy sources to facilitate exports from the Russia with minimal CO2 emissions, which, in turn, will affect the reduction in NUTEP and KSK’s estimate indicators in reporting on indirect greenhouse gas emissions and other indirect carbon emissions for their customers. Depending on the methodology adopted by the European Union (EU), the indicators could reduce the “carbon tax” on exports to the EU for Russian exporters.

Fuel loading starts in unit 2 of first nuclear power plant in Belarus

Fuel loading has started in unit 2 of the first nuclear power plant (NPP) in Belarus, according to an official statement.  The first fuel assembly was loaded into the second unit’s reactor core beginning in the last week of December 2021, and totally 163 fuel assemblies will be loaded into the reactor.  

The 1,200 MW first unit of the Belarus NPP, equipped with the state-of-the-art VVER-1200 reactor and being built with the assistance of the Russian state atomic energy corporation Rosatom, started commercial operations in June 2021. The Belarus NPP located at Ostrovets, thus, became the first VVER-1200 project to be successfully completed outside Russia. 

The fuel was manufactured by Rosatom’s fuel arm, TVEL, at the Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrates Plant in Siberia. Each of the fuel assemblies measures about 4 metres in length and weighs 571 kilograms. Once they are in place and the reactor pressure vessel is sealed, the unit may be brought to criticality and power gradually raised to the minimum 1 percent level. 

“The most interesting, exciting and responsible period of construction of the nuclear power unit is its commissioning after the completion of a huge amount of construction and installation work. At this stage, cubic metres of concrete, tons of metal structures, kilometres of cable and pipelines turn into a living organism that will function and benefit people for at least 60 years”, Rosatom’s engineering arm ASE Group President Alexander Lokshin said. ASE Group is the designer and general contractor of the Belarus NPP project. 

The Belarus Minister of Energy Viktor Karankevich said at a press conference last month that the first unit at the Ostrovets NPP already generates 22 percent of the country’s electricity, displacing 1.6 billion cubic metres of gas. The second unit is expected to double this achievement in energy security and decarbonisation. Karankevich also said that Belarus had upgraded substations and high-voltage power lines to make sure energy from the Ostrovets NPP reaches every part of the country. 

Last month, an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) mission found that Belarus has significantly strengthened its regulatory nuclear safety framework over the past five years. 

The IAEA had arranged for an Integrated Regulatory Review Service team to spend nine days at Ostrovets to review how plant managers had implemented recommendations and suggestions of an initial visit in 2016. The mission focused on the Ostrovets plant, but took account of all Belarusian nuclear regulation, including that for industrial and medical uses of radioisotopes. 

“Belarus has made considerable improvements in its regulatory framework for safety since the 2016 mission and shows a strong commitment to nuclear and radiation safety,” said Anna Hajduk Bradford, director of the IAEA Nuclear Installation Safety Division.  

Belarus has “made progress in developing and implementing the regulatory framework for emergency preparedness and response … including the establishment of the emergency response centre in 2017 and the holding of complex emergency exercises”, the IAEA said.  

The VVER-1200 reactor has a number of advantages when compared to the previous generation VVER-1000 reactor, including a unique combination of active and passive safety systems that make equipped NPPs maximally resistant to external and internal influences. VVER-1200 power units are equipped with a “core catcher” – a device designed to contain and cool the melt of the reactor core in the event of a hypothetical accident – as well as other passive safety systems capable of operating without the participation of personnel in the event of a complete power outage. “In addition, the generation III+ design has increased the reactor’s capacity by 20 percent, reduced the number of maintenance personnel, and doubled the unit’s lifespan from 30 to 60 years, with the possibility of a twenty-year extension”, Rosatom has said. 

Currently, three reactors of this type are successfully operating in Russia – two at the Novovoronezh NPP and one at the Leningrad NPP. The fourth such reactor – unit 6 of the Leningrad NPP – reached 100 percent capacity on January 3, 2021. The VVER-1200 reactor is also a backbone of the Rosatom export order book consisting of 36 units across 12 markets, including Finland, Hungary, Uzbekistan, Turkey and Bangladesh. 

According to Rosatom, the safety system of the twin-unit plant in Belarus has been “fully endorsed” by the IAEA, which concluded that the design parameters account for site-specific external hazards, such as earthquakes, floods and extreme weather, as well as human-induced events, and that measures have been taken to address challenges related to external events in light of lessons from the

The Fukushima accident was caused by the tsunami that hit the coast of Japan in 2011. 

The IAEA has already conducted seven of the missions to the Belarus plant that it recommends for countries building their first NPP. In 2017-2018, Belarus voluntarily agreed to conduct the European Union nuclear safety stress tests, and had the results reviewed by the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG), which had given the tests an “overall positive” mark. In March last year, the ENSREG approved the preliminary report on the peer review of the Belarusian plant. 

According to Rosatom, once fully completed, the twin unit 2,400 MW Belarus NPP is expected to supply about 18 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) of low-carbon electricity to the country’s national grid every year. 

Concreting completed of inner containment of unit 2 in Bangladesh’s first nuclear plant

Concreting of the fifth tier of the inner containment of the reactor building at unit 2 of Bangladesh’s first nuclear power plant (NPP) at Rooppur has been completed, according to a statement by the Russian state atomic energy corporation Rosatom. 

Rosatom, the equipment supplier and technical consultant for the project, is building two VVER-1200 units of 1,200 MW capacity each at Rooppur located on the eastern bank of the river Ganges. 

A Rosatom statement said that on December 24, 2021, it took the specialists of Trest Rossem 23 hours of uninterrupted work to cast 850 cubic metres of self-compacting concrete mix.  
 

“Concreting of the fifth tier of the inner containment from elevation +38.180 to elevation+43.400 was completed significantly ahead of schedule”, Rosatom subsidiary ASE Vice President and Rooppur NPP Construction Project Director, Alexey Deriy, said in a statement. 
 
“This is a testament of the high professional level of the specialists of Trest Rossem in Bangladesh and a good example of well-coordinated work of the entire team at the construction site”, he added. 
 
Concreting of the fifth tier completes the construction of the cylindrical part of the inner containment that is one of the main components of the NPP reactor safety system which prevents release of radioactive substances into the environment. 
 
The dome of the power unit will be installed on the inner containment in the next phase, the statement said.  
 
Currently, works are in progress for manufacturing of elements for the containment dome part. It is planned to complete the erection of steel structures of the inner containment dome in the first half of 2022, the statement added.  

In June 2020, a truss, or support structure, for the second unit reactor of the Rooppur NPP was installed. The support truss is one of the most important elements of the equipment of the reactor pit, and is designed to reliably fasten the reactor vessel and protect it from weight and seismic loads. 

The installation of the reactor pressure vessel for unit 1 at Rooppur was completed in October 2021. A Rosatom statement said that installation of the reactor pressure vessel (RPV) weighing more than 334 tonnes started on September 14, 2021, and was completed on October 10, when it was inaugurated at a formal ceremony attended by Rosatom Director General Alexey Likhachev, and which was witnessed via video link by Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. 

Both the latest generation III+ 1,200 MW power units at the Rooppur NPP, located 160 km from the capital Dhaka, will be equipped with active as well as passive safety systems, including molten core catchers. This evolutionary reactor design fully complies with all the international safety requirements, the statement said.

‘Nuclear power should be a part of India’s green energy journey’

India should increase its share of nuclear power in its quest towards having green power as renewable power is intermittent and costly, according to experts  participating at a videoconference.


They also said strategies based on carbon cost will push up the power costs and India should also get rid of the mindset that policy will be driven by the vendors.

The views were expressed at the video conference where the interim report on ‘India’s Energy Transition in a Carbon-Constrained World: The Role of Nuclear Power’ of the Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF) was released.

If India wants green power, then it needs larger power generation as currently various sectors are powered by different kinds of fuels. So the share of electricity in the total energy basket has to go up, said Dr Anil Kakodkar, former Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission, and ex-Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy.

He said the country must recognise that one should not lose perspective that for a large amount of green power, there is no alternative to nuclear power.

According to Kakodkar, it is not possible for the country to completely get out of fossil energy as there are severe technological issues with hydrogen, battery and solar power.

According to India’s former Ambassador to Iran, D.P. Srivastava, the cost of decarbonisation of the economy will be very high.


He said if nuclear energy is factored into the green power effort, then the costs will be optimised.

Pointing out that renewable power is intermittent and has to be backed up by a stable power source, Srivastava added that nuclear power should be given the must-run status on par with renewables.

He also said if carbon cost, or pricing, is applied, then the power costs will go up steeply.

Srivastava said if carbon cost is introduced in India through the backdoor by way of bilaterals and exclusive reliance on renewable power, then the costs will go up.

TVEL launches facility to make TVS-K fuel for pressurised water reactors

Russian state atomic energy corporation Rosatom’s fuel arm, TVEL Fuel Company (TVEL), has launched the new fabrication facility for manufacturing the TVS-Kvadrat (TVS-K) nuclear fuel for pressurised water reactors (PWRs) at the Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrates Plant located in Siberia.    

A Rosatom statement earlier this week said the new facility will enable TVEL to supply various modifications of its TVS-K fuel to nuclear power plants (NPPs) around the world that are powered by PWR reactors. 

“Taking into account the long-time experience in development of nuclear fuel fabrication in Russia, this project has been accomplished using the most advanced up-to-date equipment and technologies with wide application of digital solutions”, the statement said.  

The TVS-K draws on TVEL’s experience in the development, manufacture and operation of nuclear fuel for Russian-designed VVER-1000 reactors of the kind being installed at the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP) in India’s Tamil Nadu state, units 1 and 2 of which, having 1,000 MW generation capacity each, are already connected to the grid. Construction is underway of 4 additional units of 1,000 MW capacity each.   

“The referent operation experience, as well the post-irradiation studies confirm the designed properties of the Russian PWR fuel. TVS-K introduction to the global market will enable diversification of PWR fuel supplies not only by supplier, but also by technology. The Russian fuel has an original genesis, including construction materials, the approach to fuel matrix manufacturing, etc. TVS-K fuel is based on Russian technical solutions, which are not subject to export control restrictions of other countries”, said TVEL Fuel Company President, Natalia Nikipelova. 

The TVS-K fuel has been developed by TVEL, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, for Western-designed PWRs. In 2016, the company signed a contract with Swedish utility Vattenfall to supply TVS-K fuel for the Ringhals NPP. In 2020, an experimental batch of TVS-K completed its operation cycle in the PWR-900 reactor at unit 3 of  Ringhals. The irradiated fuel was sent to the Studsvik Science Centre in Sweden for post-irradiation studies, the main phase of which was completed in October 2021. 

According to the company, every sixth power reactor in the world is powered by TVEL fuel. TVEL provides fuel to a total of 75 power reactors in 15 countries, research reactors in nine countries, as well as to the transport reactors of the Russian nuclear fleet. 

Russia commissions new nuclear-powered icebreaker ‘Sibir’

Russia has commissioned a new nuclear-powered icebreaker named Sibir, the first in a series of such icebreakers being constructed under its “Project 22220”, which will help keep the Northern Sea Route open for year-round shipping through the Arctic, Russian state atomic energy corporation Rosatom has announced.  

A Rosatom statement said that while the Sibir was commissioned on December 24, 2021, the nuclear icebreakers  Ural, Yakutia, and Chukotka are currently under construction in St. Petersburg.  

“The Project 22220 icebreakers will help unleash the traffic potential of the Northern Sea Route. Arctica, the flagship versatile nuclear icebreaker, is operating in the Northern Sea Route right now. The nuclear icebreaker is escorting a convoy towards Pevek Port”, the statement said.  

“The commissioning of the first-in-series versatile nuclear icebreaker Sibir will strengthen Atomflot’s position in the Arctic. We believe that the efficient operation of such icebreakers is a key factor to enable the sustainable development of the Northern Sea Route navigation”, said Atomflot CEO, Mustafa Kashka. Atomflot is a Rosatom group company.

Rosatom also said that the flagship nuclear icebreaker Arctica, equipped with an RITM 200 reactor and integrated steam generator, has proved to be highly efficient.  It successfully navigated the shallow waters en route to the Arctica Gate oil terminal in May 2021, proving its suitability for both open sea, as well as polar river estuary operations. 

The Northern Sea Route (NSR) via the Arctic is the shortest route between East Asian and Western European ports. The nautical distance between Shanghai and Rotterdam via the NSR is expected to be 30 percent shorter than the Suez Canal route, saving travel time by 10–12 days. Similarly, the distance between Yokohama and Rotterdam will be reduced by half. 

The NSR is one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s flagship projects, and Russia has set a target of transporting 80 million tonnes of cargo along the route by 2024. 

During the 21st edition of the India-Russia summit held in New Delhi last month, India indicated its interest in partnering with Russia on the Northern Sea Route. In September, addressing the Eastern Economic Forum held in Vladivostok via video link, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that “India and Russia are partners in space exploration through the Gaganyan program. Russia and India will also be partners in opening up the Northern Sea Route for international trade and commerce.” 

In this connection, both President Putin and Prime Minister Modi have flagged the Vladivostok to Chennai shipping route, especially to bolster India’s energy security. In fact, the first shipment of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Russian Siberia has already set sail for India through the Northern Sea Route.  

Drawing on Rosatom’s experience, Rusatom delivers nuclear medicine products worldwide

Nuclear medicine nowadays plays a pivotal role in healthcare and can help give early diagnosis for patients, and a more localised point for treatment. Owing to rapid innovations in technology, nuclear medicine is increasingly becoming crucial for diagnostics and therapy, particularly for diseases like cancer and thyroid.  

Russian state atomic energy corporation Rosatom subsidiary, Rusatom Healthcare, has emerged as a leader in providing cutting-edge solutions for diagnostics and therapeutics, leveraging Rosatom Global’s vast experience and expertise in nuclear technology and innovation, according to Rusatom Healthcare Project Head Sergey Evdonin. 

In a webinar organised by Rosatom last week for journalists from India and Bangladesh, Evdonin noted how nuclear medicine technology is being increasingly adopted across the world and the demand for nuclear medicine products and solutions have seen rapid growth.  

As an integrator of radiation technologies for medicine and industry within Rosatom, Rusatom Healthcare offers a range of products with integrated solutions spanning project concept and development, design, construction, and manufacturing, supply and installation of equipment, personnel training, as well as servicing and maintenance. 

Elaborating on the products and solutions, Evdonin said that Rusatom offers products and solutions under three broad categories – diagnostic, therapeutic, and integrated solutions for radiopharmaceutical production. In addition to off-the-shelf offerings, the solutions can be optimised and configured as per the needs of the customer, he added.  

Highlighting the benefits of diagnostic products, Evdonin said that Positron Emission Tomography (PET) has been proven to improve a number of indicators, including a 5-6 times decrease in the number of cancer recurrences, 15-20 percent increase in the number of detected cancer cases, 30-40 percent quality improvement of cardiovascular disease diagnostics, and 5-30 percent reduction in cancer mortality through appropriate treatment.   

Rusatom is also supplying Single Photon Emission Tomography (SPECT) scanners that provide medical imaging using gamma rays.  

In the area of therapeutics, Rusatom products are being widely used across the world for radionuclide therapy, radiotherapy, brachytherapy as well as proton and ion beam therapy, the company’s Project Head said.  

The company manufactures equipment such as cyclotrons, which produce radiopharmaceuticals. Isotopes are generated in cyclotrons, generators or nuclear reactors. Based on various isotopes, radiopharmaceuticals are produced for molecular imaging, radionuclide therapy and diagnostics. Radionuclide therapy can be used to treat conditions such as hyperthyroidism, thyroid and skin cancers, as well as blood disorders. 

Evdonin noted that Rosatom holds 30 percent of the global market share in cobalt-60 isotope, while Rusatom Healthcare supplies isotope products to more than 50 countries in the world enabling diagnosis and treatment of about 2.5 million people every year. 

Rusatom also provides integrated solutions for construction of multifunctional treatment centers. Its turnkey offer includes financial, technological and equipment solutions, as well as the education and training of personnel. The company is constructing a cyclotron and radiochemical complex in Thailand under a contract signed in 2017 with the Thailand Institute of Nuclear Research.  

In addition to nuclear medicine, Rusatom is providing project solutions for ionising radiation treatment of food, agriculture and medical products, as well as polymer materials. Ionising radiation treatment helps in reducing food wastage by extending shelf life, as well as through pest control. Similarly, the radiation treatment for medical products guarantees a complete biological inactivation of bacteria contained in them, with no residual radioactivity. 

With regard to opportunities in India of using nuclear technology for non-energy generation purposes, Edvonin said that Rusatom is going to cooperate with local companies for delivery of high technology solutions in medicine which will greatly enhance the efficiency of diagnostics, especially in oncological cases. Nuclear technology can play a major role in reducing the agricultural produce waste, which is quite high in India, through ionising radiation treatment, he added.  

Concluding the webinar, Evdonin noted that Rosatom has drawn on more than 70 years of experience, expertise and learnings in nuclear technology to supply advanced, safe and effective nuclear medicine products and solutions all over the world. 

World’s first high temperature gas-cooled reactor connected to grid in China

The world’s first land-based small modular reactor (SMR) has been connected to the grid in China earlier this month, the state-run China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) has announced.  

It is the first unit of Shidao Bay nuclear power plant (NPP) in northeast China’s Shandong province, with a generation capacity of 200 MW. A second such unit is under construction.  

Built by the state-run power generator China Huaneng Group (CHGC) in collaboration with Beijing’s Tsinghua University, the SMR becomes the world’s first pebble-bed modular high-temperature gas-cooled reactor to be connected to the grid. 

As it is cooled by helium gas, this high-temperature gas-cooled (HTR-PM) small modular reactor can be used in inland areas away from large bodies of water. The HTR-PM is a Generation 4 reactor design and is a part of the nation’s drive to make China carbon-neutral by 2060. 

In pebble-bed technology, the reactor core is formed from graphite pebbles that contain specially designed fuel particles. CNNC said the design allows reactors to be run safely at higher temperatures, describing it as “the reactor that won’t melt down”.  

The CNNC also said that the technology at the Shidao Bay project was completely indigenous, with 93.4 percent of the equipment having been sourced domestically. The China Huaneng Group plans to develop the two HTR-PM reactors at this demonstration plant to jointly power a 210 MW turbine. 

According to the CHGC, the demonstration project used more than 2,000 sets of equipment for the first time, and more than 600 sets of innovative equipment, including the world’s first high-temperature gas-cooled reactor spiral coil steam generator. It also features the first high-power, high-temperature thermal electromagnetic bearing structure for the main helium fan, as well as the world’s largest and heaviest reactor pressure vessel.   

The Chinese nuclear regulator, the National Nuclear Safety Administration, issued an operating license for the HTR-PM in August 2021, which was followed by the loading of the first spherical fuel elements into the first reactor, and the start up in September.

A total of 18 such reactors are planned at Shidao Bay. China is also proposing a scaled-up version called the HTR-PM-600, in which one large turbine will be driven by six HTR-PM units to generate 650 MW electricity.  

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), being cooled by helium and capable of reaching temperatures as high as 750 degrees Celsius, makes the HTMR suitable for non-electric applications such as district heating and hydrogen production. The reactor is also designed with inherent safety features that reduce the risk of radioactive releases.  

An IAEA report says that safety is also a matter of fuel design and how the nuclear fission reaction is controlled in the reactor core. According to the agency, modular high-temperature gas-cooled reactors (MHTGR) being small in size, with predesigned geometrical restrictions and limitations of the reactor and fuel elements, are inherently safe owing to their design features. Besides, their power density is low, while minimal fuel is available in the reactor. Moreover, the chances of core damage of the MHTGR are nil, according to the IAEA.  

Among the Asian nations, taking the case of India which has plentiful thorium reserves, the IAEA has specifically pointed out that small thorium-based gas cooled high temperature reactors (STGRs) in the 20MW-40MW range are completely safe with a core damage frequency rate of zero. The agency has reiterated that such SMRs merit introduction in India not only for their innovative technology, but also for other economic benefits of the STGRs. An IAEA report says that “for 10,000 STGRs in India, the combined core damage frequency (CDF) will still be 0.” 

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