After the recent refueling at power unit 3 of the Hungarian Paks NPP, its VVER-440 reactor has been loaded with a batch of fresh fuel including 18 fuel bundles of the new modification. The new fuel will be introduced at all four operating power units of the Paks NPP, the number of new-modification bundles in each refueling will be increased gradually.
Development of the new VVER-440 fuel modification was completed in 2020 under the contract between TVEL JSC and MVM Paks NPP Ltd. Its introduction would optimize the hydro-uranium ratio in the reactor core, enabling to increase the efficiency of fuel usage and advance the economic performance of the power plant operation. All VVER-440 fuel modifications are manufactured at the Elemash Machine-Building Plant, a facility of TVEL Fuel Company in Elektrostal, Moscow Region.
“Introduction of a new fuel is an option to improve technical and economic performance of a nuclear power plant without substantial investment. We are actively engaged in development of new models and modifications of VVER-440 fuel for power plants in Europe. The projects of the new fuels for Loviisa NPP in Finland, Dukovany NPP in the Czech Republic, Mochovce and Bohunice NPPs in Slovakia, are currently at various stages of implementation. Despite the same reactor model, these projects are quite different technically and conceptually, since we take into account the individual needs and requirements of our customers,” commented Natalia Nikipelova, President of TVEL JSC.
The project of development and validation of the new fuel has been accomplished with participation of a number of Russian nuclear industry enterprises, such as OKB Gidropress (a part of Rosatom machine-building division Atomenergomash), Bochvar Institute (material science research facility of TVEL Fuel Company), Elemash Machine-building plant and Kurchatov Institute national research center. At the site of OKB Gidropress research and experiment facility, the new fuel passed a range of hydraulic, longevity and vibration tests.
Paks NPP is the only functioning nuclear power plant in Hungary with total installed capacity 2000 MWe. It operates four similar units powered by VVER-440 reactors and commissioned one by one in 1982-1987. The power plant produces about 15 bln kWh annually, about a half of electric power generation in Hungary. In 2018, the project of increasing the duration of Paks NPP fuel cycle won the European competition Quality Innovation Award in the nomination “Innovations of large enterprises”. Russian engineers from TVEL JSC, Kurchatov Institute, OKB Gidropress, Bochvar Institute and Elemash Machine-building plant provided assistance to the Hungarian colleagues in accomplishment of the project.