Loading of nuclear fuel into unit 4 of the Novovoronezh nuclear power plant in Russia has been completed. The procedure is part of large-scale modernisation work on the VVER-440 reactor and the 43rd time it has been carried out there since it started operations in 1973.
Novovoronezh units 3 and 4 gained 15-year licence extensions to 2016 and 2017, then unit 4 was given a further 15-year extension, using parts from the shutdown unit 3. They were the first VVER-440 units to have their operational life extended by annealing the reactor pressure vessel.
Andrey Meremyanin, deputy chief engineer at the plant, said the latest nuclear fuel loading at unit 4 had started on 26 November and that 349 fuel assemblies and 73 absorbers had been loaded into the reactor core.
Yesterday’s statement added that, as part of the modernisation and extension of the service life of unit 4, more than 40 activities had been carried out. On their completion the unit will be able to operate for a further 15 years, taking its operating period to 60 years.
The original Novovoronezh site hosts three operating reactors and two that are being decommissioned. Two new reactors are being added there – Novovoronezh II units 1 and 2. These are VVER 1200/392M pressurised water reactors with a design net capacity of 1114 MWe. Novovoronezh II is the lead project for the deployment of the AES-2006 design incorporating a Gidropress-designed PWR, an evolutionary development from the VVER-1000. Unit 1 was connected to the grid in August 2016, while physical start-up of unit 2 is scheduled this month.