Unit 1 reactor pressure vessel installed at Turkey’s first nuclear power plant


The reactor pressure vessel (RPV) at unit 1 of Turkey’s first nuclear power plant (NPP) at Akkuyu has been installed, according to the Russian state atomic energy corporation Rosatom, which is collaborating in the construction of the NPP.

Rosatom, which is building four state-of-the-art VVER-1200 reactors at Akkuyu, said that before the installation of the RPV, the core catcher safety feature was mounted at unit 1, concreting of the support and thrust trusses was carried out, as well as the dry shielding and thermal insulation of the reactor vessel cylindrical part were installed.

According to Rosatom, the reactor vessel, weighing 330 tons, 4.5 meter in diameter and 12 meter in height, was installed within the reactor building of unit 1 using a Liebherr LR 13000 self-propelled crawler crane with a lifting capacity of up to 3,000 tons.

Rosatom said the installation of the RPV was carried out under the “Open Top” construction method, through the uncovered top of the cylindrical part of the reactor building, which enables construction and installation operations to be carried out simultaneously, allowing the start of equipment installation and pipeline assembly before the completion of concreting of the floors.

The company also said the Open Top technology has successfully proven itself in NPP construction projects in China, Japan, Bulgaria and Russia. The Open Top technology will be used for installation of steam generators, pressure compensators, main circulation pumps and other main technological equipment in the reactor buildings of the Akkuyu plant, it added.

“The installation of the reactor pressure vessel of Unit 1 is one of the main events within this year. On April 21, we mounted a support ring on which the reactor vessel is installed. It is a structural element of the reactor plant, designed to secure the vessel, keep it from horizontal and vertical displacements when exposed to loads. And now the reactor vessel has been installed in the design position,” the Akkuyu plant Director Sergei Butckikh said.

According to Rosatom, following the installation of the unit 1 RPV, construction workers will now proceed with concreting the reactor shaft, installing bearings for the main circulation pipeline components and steam generators. After the installation of the steam generators and casings of the reactor coolant pump set, it will be possible to start welding the main circulation pipeline.

In March 2021, Rosatom announced the start of construction on the third unit of the Akkuyu NPP. A Rosatom statement said that a ceremony to mark the launch of construction of Unit 3 was held at the site. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan joined the ceremony via videoconference, while Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Dönmez, Rosatom Director General Alexey Likhachev and Akkuyu Nuclear JSC CEO Anastasia Zoteeva were present at the site.

The statement said that with the start of construction of Unit 3, building and installation works are now being carried out simultaneously at the construction sites of all four Akkuyu NPP power units. “The concreting of the foundation slab of Akkuyu NPP Unit 1 was completed in March 2019. Up to this date, the core catcher, dry protection, the cantilever truss, and support and thrust trusses have been installed in the unit’s reactor building. The work continues on concreting the walls of the internal structures of the containment, construction of structural contour walls and internal walls, pre-assembly and preparation for installation of the third tier of the inner containment shell”, Rosatom said.

“The concreting of the foundation slab of Akkuyu NPP Unit 2 began on April 8, 2020, and was completed in early June 2020. Construction of the circular reactor building walls followed at the unit. Concrete pouring of the annular floor was carried out, the core catcher was installed in the design position, and the first tier of the internal containment shell was erected. Installation of the support truss in the design position is the next milestone planned for this year within the framework of the power unit construction”, it added.

According to Rosatom, the construction license application for the Akkuyu NPP Unit 4 was submitted to the Turkish nuclear regulator NDK on May 12, 2020.

According to Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Dönmez, “construction and commissioning of the plant will provide 10 percent of Turkey’s electricity needs. It is also an important contribution to the preservation of our ecology: nuclear power plants are a source of environmentally friendly and uninterrupted electricity. The project is a driver for the development of industry, economy, employment, and also contributes to the development of many related industries”.

Turkey plans to bring the 1,200 MW unit 1 online in 2023. With three more similar units, the Akkuyu NPP will have a total capacity of 4,800 MW.