Rosatom plans world’s biggest fast reactor to close the nuclear fuel loop

Beloyarsk is already home to the world’s largest fast reactor (Public domain)
Rosatom aims to build the world’s largest fast neutron reactor at its Beloyarsk Nuclear Power Plant near Yekaterinburg, website Nuclear Engineering International reports.

Plant director Ivan Sidorov said work on the BN1200 sodium-cooled unit would begin in 2027.

He told the plant’s in-house magazine that a site had been determined, public hearings had been held, and that some groundworks had begun.

The Beloyarsk plant is Russia’s main fast-neutron reactor research site.

Fast neutron reactors are not used for commercial power generation because they have lower energy outputs than their slower, conventional cousins.

But they can use nuclear waste from slow reactors as fuel, and this reprocesses the waste, using up its highly radioactive actinides and making it once again suitable for conventional reactors.

By doing this, Rosatom hopes to create a closed nuclear fuel cycle, with VVER and BN reactors passing fuel between them.

This would remove the need for large-scale uranium mining and would cut the burden of storing spent fuel.

Highly radioactive waste typically requires storage for millennia. Plutonium-239 has a half-life of 24,000 years, for instance.

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