BN-600 reactor

The BN-600 reactor is a sodium-cooled fast breeder reactor, built at the Beloyarsk Nuclear Power Station, in Zarechny, Sverdlovsk Oblast, Russia. Designed to generate electrical power of 600 MW in total, the plant dispatches 560 MW to the Middle Urals power grid. It has been in operation since 1980 and represents an evolution on the preceding BN-350 reactor. In 2014, its larger sister reactor, the BN-800 reactor began operation.

The plant is a pool-type reactor, where the reactor, coolant pumps, intermediate heat exchangers and associated piping are all located in a common liquid sodium pool. The reactor system is housed in a concrete rectilinear building, and provided with filtration and gas containment features. In the 1st 15 years of operation, there have been 12 incidents involving sodium/water interactions from tube breaks in the steam generators,[2] a sodium-air oxidation/"fire" from a leak in an auxiliary system, and a sodium "fire" from a leak in a secondary coolant loop while shut down. All these incidents were classified at the lowest level on the International Nuclear Event Scale, and none of the events prevented restarting operation of the facility after repairs. As of 1997, there had been 27 sodium leaks, 14 of which resulted in sodium-air oxidations/"fires". The steam generators are separated in modules so they can be repaired without shutting down the reactor.[3] As of 2013, the cumulative "energy Availability factor" recorded by the IAEA was 74.6%.[4]

The reactor core is 1.03 meters tall with a diameter of 2.05 meters.[5] It has 369 fuel assemblies, mounted vertically, each consisting of 127 fuel rods enriched to between 17–26% 235U. In comparison, normal enrichment in other Russian reactors is between 3–4% 235U. The control and scram system comprises 27 reactivity control elements including 19 shimming rods, two automatic control rods, and six automatic emergency shut-down rods. On-power refueling equipment allows for charging the core with fresh fuel assemblies, repositioning and turning the fuel assemblies within the reactor, and changing control and scram system elements remotely.

The unit employs a three-circuit coolant arrangement; sodium coolant circulates in both the primary and secondary circuits. Water and steam flow in the third circuit. The sodium is heated to a maximum of 550 °C in the reactor during normal operations. This heat is transferred from the reactor core via three independent circulation loops. Each comprises a primary sodium pump, two intermediate heat exchangers, a secondary sodium pump with an expansion tank located upstream, and an emergency pressure discharge tank. These feed a steam generator, which in turn supplies a condensing turbine that turns the generator.

The reactor has worked until 2012 as a breeder reactor, since then as a burner reactor using weapon-grade plutonium.[6]

There is a lot of international interest in the fast-breeder reactor at Beloyarsk. Japan has its own prototype fast-breeder reactors. Japan paid 1 billion[7] for the technical documentation of the BN-600. The operation of the reactor is an international study in progress; Russia, France, Japan, and the United Kingdom currently participate.

The reactor has been licensed to operate up to 2025.[8]

BN-600 nuclear reactor
A cutaway model of the reactor. The core, that is the nuclear fuel at the heart of the reactor has dimensions of 2 meters in height by 0.75 meters in diameter, similar to the BN-800 reactor.[1]
Beloyarsk NNP
Main building of Beloyarsk Nuclear Power Station as seen from the Beloyarskoye Reservoir near Zarechny, Sverdlovsk Oblast, Russia. Beloyarsk has the largest fast breeder reactor, the (BN-600), at 600 MW it is the most powerful breeder in the world. Construction of a second breeder reactor, the BN-800 reactor, is completed.

See also


  1. ^ "Fast Neutron Reactors - article from World-Nuclear".
  2. ^ "12 water-into-sodium leaks occurred; from google (bn-600 tube leak) result 5" (PDF).
  3. ^ Frank von Hippel; et al. (February 2010). Fast Breeder Reactor Programs: History and Status (PDF). International Panel on Fissile Materials. ISBN 978-0-9819275-6-5. Retrieved 28 April 2014.
  4. ^ "Beloyarsk-3". PRIS. IAEA. Retrieved 28 April 2014.
  5. ^ Status of Fast Reactor Research and Technology Development (PDF). International Atomic Energy Agency. 2012. p. 130. ISBN 978-92-0-130610-4. Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  6. ^ "Fast Neutron Reactors - FBR - World Nuclear Association". Retrieved 22 April 2018.
  7. ^ Bellona Foundation, an international environmental NGO based in Norway. "Factsheet on the Beloyarsk Nuclear Power Plant". Archived from the original on 2013-11-10.
  8. ^ "Russian Fast Reactor Connected to the Grid". 1 February 2016. Retrieved 22 April 2018.

External links

Coordinates: 56°50′30″N 61°19′21″E / 56.8416°N 61.3224°E

Advanced nuclear

Advanced nuclear is an emerging area of the energy industry focused on designing and commercializing next generation reactors for nuclear energy production. Encompassing more comprehensive and radical technological innovations and design advancements, these innovations aim to dramatically improve performance and eliminate known problems associated with the existing generation nuclear reactors (Gen I and Gen II) currently in use around the world.

The earliest Gen I and Gen II nuclear reactors built utilized the light-water reactor design in one of three variants: the pressurized water reactor (PWR), the boiling water reactor (BWR), and the supercritical water reactor (SCWR). The use of the light-water design (i.e. using regular water, H2O and not heavy water, 2H2O) as both its coolant and neutron moderator but needing a plentiful supply) in all commercial reactors was a trade-off that enabled the industry to leverage the purchasing clout of Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, who was keen on procuring nuclear-powered submarines for the Navy, to grow quickly. The choice, however, imposed a riskier design that many argued was not optimized for terrestrial energy, bringing both competitive advantages as well as fateful disadvantages to the initial development and subsequent growth of the commercial nuclear power fleet. Despite operating to the military's exacting specifications and winning praise and massive contracts from government buyers, the industry quickly earned the distrust of the public. (See the Anti-nuclear movement.)

Generation III reactors contain yet further incremental refinements to aspects of Generation II nuclear reactor designs but were not very popular. Improvements were developed for fuel technology, thermal efficiency, to safety systems to reduce maintenance and capital costs. The first Generation III reactor was Kashiwazaki 6 (an ABWR) in 1996 but the declining support for the underlying Generation II light-water design, caused relatively few third generation reactors to be built.

Generation IV designs are the first generation where innovator in Advanced Nuclear technologies are exploring paradigm shifts in methodologies. Gen IV projects encompass not just innovative nuclear fission concepts, like the Molten salt reactor, Liquid Metal Fast Breeder Reactors, and High temperature gas cooled reactors, but also Fusion power and even Low Energy Nuclear Reactors (LENR), which generate heat through a series of controlled chemical reactions that then cause a nuclear bond to shift, which results in heat output. Gen IV is still in development as of 2017, and are not expected to start entering commercial operation until after 2020.

Some of the different reactor design ideas being explored and developed for Advanced nuclear reactors, now thought of as Generation IV reactors (Gen IV) today were actually first conceived within the National Labs back in the 1960s. Several of these concepts, including Alvin M. Weinberg's Molten salt reactor (MSR) developed at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), even had the benefit of being prototyped and tested over a period of time. Weinberg's MSR became the first reactor to run on Uranium 233 in 1968 and logged more than 13,000 hours at "full power" before being shut down in 1969. Today, the concept of using a molten salt brew that acts both as the fuel and the "containment" of the reaction by using the ionic bonds of the salt to capture and contain the heat generated from the nuclear reaction, thereby dispensing with the need for expensive containment structures and eliminating much of risk and cost, remains of keen interest to those exploring Advanced nuclear technologies.

BN-1200 reactor

The BN-1200 reactor is a sodium-cooled fast breeder reactor project, under development by OKBM Afrikantov in Zarechny, Russia. The BN-1200 is based on the earlier BN-600 and especially BN-800, with which it shares a number of features. The reactor's name comes from its electrical output, nominally 1220 MWe.

Originally part of an aggressive expansion plan including as many as eight BN-Reactors starting construction in 2012, plans for the BN-1200 were repeatedly scaled back until only two were ordered. The first was to begin construction at the Beloyarsk nuclear power plant in 2015, with initial commissioning in 2017, followed by a second unit at the same location. A possible new station known as South Ural would host another two BN-1200s at some future point.

In 2015, after several minor delays, problems at the recently completed BN-800 indicated a redesign was needed. Construction of the BN-1200 was put on "indefinite hold", and Rosenergoatom has stated that no decision to continue will be made before 2019.

BN-350 reactor

The BN-350 was a sodium-cooled fast reactor located at Aktau Nuclear Power Plant.

The power plant was located in Aktau (formerly known as Shevchenko in 1964–1992), Kazakhstan, on the shore of the Caspian Sea.

Construction of the BN-350 fast breeder reactor began in 1964, and the plant first produced electricity in 1973.

In addition to providing power for the city (135 MWe), BN-350 was also used for producing plutonium and for desalination to supply fresh water (120,000 m³ fresh water/day) to the city.

The project lifetime of the reactor officially finished in 1993, and in June 1994, the reactor was forced to shut down because of a lack of funds to buy fuel.

By 1995, the plant's operating license had expired.

The facility continued to operate far below capacity until reactor operations ceased in 1999, when plutonium-bearing spent fuel stopped being produced.

BN-800 reactor

The BN-800 reactor is a sodium-cooled fast breeder reactor, built at the Beloyarsk Nuclear Power Station, in Zarechny, Sverdlovsk Oblast, Russia.

The reactor is designed to generate 880 MW of electrical power.

The plant was considered part of the weapons-grade Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement signed between the United States and Russia, with the reactor part of the final step for a plutonium-burner core.

The plant reached its full power production in August, 2016.


The BN-reactor is a type of sodium-cooled fast breeder reactor built in Russia from the company OKBM Afrikantov. Two BN-reactors are to date (2015) the only commercial fast breeder reactors in operation worldwide.

Beloyarsk Nuclear Power Station

The Beloyarsk Nuclear Power Station (NPS; Russian: Белоярская атомная электростанция им. И. В. Курчатова [pronunciation ]) was the third of the Soviet Union's nuclear plants. It is situated by Zarechny in Sverdlovsk Oblast, Russia. Zarechny township was created to service the station, which is named after the Beloyarsky District. The closest city is Yekaterinburg.

Breeder reactor

A breeder reactor is a nuclear reactor that generates more fissile material than it consumes. Breeder reactors achieve this because their neutron economy is high enough to create more fissile fuel than they use, by irradiation of a fertile material, such as uranium-238 or thorium-232 that is loaded into the reactor along with fissile fuel. Breeders were at first found attractive because they made more complete use of uranium fuel than light water reactors, but interest declined after the 1960s as more uranium reserves were found, and new methods of uranium enrichment reduced fuel costs.


The CFR-600 is a sodium-cooled pool-type fast-neutron nuclear reactor under construction in Xiapu County, Fujian province, China, on Changbiao Island.

It is a generation IV demonstration project by the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC).

The project is also known as Xiapu fast reactor pilot project.

Construction of the reactor started in late 2017.

The reactor will have an output of 1500 MWth thermal power and 600 MW electric power.The CFR-600 is part of the Chinese plan to reach a closed nuclear fuel cycle.

Fast neutron reactors are considered the main technology in the future for nuclear power in China.

A larger commercial-scale reactor, the CFR-1000, is also planned.On the same site, a second 600 MW fast reactor is planned to be built in the future, a 600 MW HTR-PM600 and four 1000 MW CAP1000 are proposed.

Energy density

Energy density is the amount of energy stored in a given system or region of space per unit volume. Colloquially it may also be used for energy per unit mass, though the accurate term for this is specific energy. Often only the useful or extractable energy is measured, which is to say that inaccessible energy (such as rest mass energy) is ignored. In cosmological and other general relativistic contexts, however, the energy densities considered are those that correspond to the elements of the stress–energy tensor and therefore do include mass energy as well as energy densities associated with the pressures described in the next paragraph.

Energy per unit volume has the same physical units as pressure, and in many circumstances is a synonym: for example, the energy density of a magnetic field may be expressed as (and behaves as) a physical pressure, and the energy required to compress a compressed gas a little more may be determined by multiplying the difference between the gas pressure and the external pressure by the change in volume. In short, pressure is a measure of the enthalpy per unit volume of a system. A pressure gradient has the potential to perform work on the surroundings by converting enthalpy to work until equilibrium is reached.

Generation IV reactor

Generation IV reactors (Gen IV) are a set of nuclear reactor designs currently being researched for commercial applications by the Generation IV International Forum, with technology readiness levels varying between the level requiring a demonstration, to economical competitive implementation.

They are motivated by a variety of goals including improved safety, sustainability, efficiency, and cost.

The most developed Gen IV reactor design, the sodium fast reactor, has received the greatest share of funding over the years with a number of demonstration facilities operated.

The principal Gen IV aspect of the design relates to the development of a sustainable closed fuel cycle for the reactor.

The molten-salt reactor, a less developed technology, is considered as potentially having the greatest inherent safety of the six models.

The very-high-temperature reactor designs operate at much higher temperatures. This allows for high temperature electrolysis for the efficient production of hydrogen and the synthesis of carbon-neutral fuels.The majority of the 6 designs are generally not expected to be available for commercial construction until 2020–30.

Currently the majority of reactors in operation around the world are considered second generation reactor systems, as the vast majority of the first generation systems were retired some time ago, and there are only few Generation III reactors in operation as of 2014.

Generation V reactors refer to reactors that are purely theoretical and are therefore not yet considered feasible in the short term, resulting in limited R&D funding.

Institute of Physics and Power Engineering

Institute of Physics and Power Engineering (full name: I.I. Leypunsky Institute of Physics and Power Engineering, Russian: Государственный научный центр Российской Федерации Физико-энергетический институт, ГНЦ РФ-ФЭИ; IPPE) is a research and development institute in the field of nuclear technology located in Obninsk, Russia. It is a subsidiary of Rosatom.

Nuclear power

Nuclear power is the use of nuclear reactions that release nuclear energy to generate heat, which most frequently is then used in steam turbines to produce electricity in a nuclear power plant. As a nuclear technology, nuclear power can be obtained from nuclear fission, nuclear decay and nuclear fusion reactions.

Presently, the vast majority of electricity from nuclear power is produced by nuclear fission of uranium and plutonium.

Nuclear decay processes are used in niche applications such as radioisotope thermoelectric generators.

Generating electricity from fusion power remains at the focus of international research.

This article mostly deals with nuclear fission power for electricity generation.

Civilian nuclear power supplied 2,488 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity in 2017, equivalent to about 10% of global electricity generation.

As of April 2018, there are 449 civilian fission reactors in the world, with a combined electrical capacity of 394 gigawatt (GW).

As of 2018, there are 58 power reactors under construction and 154 reactors planned, with a combined capacity of 63 GW and 157 GW, respectively. As of January 2019, 337 more reactors were proposed.

Most reactors under construction are generation III reactors in Asia.Nuclear power is classified as a low greenhouse gas energy supply technology, along with renewable energy, by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Since its commercialization in the 1970s, nuclear power has prevented about 1.84 million air pollution-related deaths and the emission of about 64 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent that would have otherwise resulted from the burning of fossil fuels.There is a debate about nuclear power.

Proponents, such as the World Nuclear Association and Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy, contend that nuclear power is a safe, sustainable energy source that reduces carbon emissions.

Opponents, such as Greenpeace and NIRS, contend that nuclear power poses many threats to people and the environment.

Accidents in nuclear power plants include the Chernobyl disaster in the Soviet Union in 1986, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011, and the more contained Three Mile Island accident in the United States in 1979.

There have also been some nuclear submarine accidents.

Nuclear reactors have caused the lowest number of fatalities per unit of energy generated when compared to fossil fuels and hydropower.

Coal, petroleum, natural gas and hydroelectricity each have caused a greater number of fatalities per unit of energy, due to air pollution and accidents.Collaboration on research and development towards greater efficiency, safety and recycling of spent fuel in future generation IV reactors presently includes Euratom and the co-operation of more than 10 permanent member countries globally.

Peak uranium

Peak uranium is the point in time that the maximum global uranium production rate is reached. After that peak, according to Hubbert peak theory, the rate of production enters a terminal decline. While uranium is used in nuclear weapons, its primary use is for energy generation via nuclear fission of the uranium-235 isotope in a nuclear power reactor. Each kilogram of uranium-235 fissioned releases the energy equivalent of millions of times its mass in chemical reactants, as much energy as 2700 tons of coal, but uranium-235 is only 0.7% of the mass of natural uranium. Uranium-235 is a finite non-renewable resource. Some have wildly speculated, using technology that does not yet exist, that future advances in breeder reactor technology could allow the current reserves of uranium to provide power for humanity for billions of years. As such technology does not exist the idea that nuclear power can be considered sustainable energy is more science fiction than science. Consequently, in 2010 the International Panel on Fissile Materials said "After six decades and the expenditure of the equivalent of tens of billions of dollars, the promise of breeder reactors remains largely unfulfilled and efforts to commercialize them have been steadily cut back in most countries."M. King Hubbert created his peak theory in 1956 for a variety of finite resources such as coal, oil, and natural gas. He and others since have argued that if the nuclear fuel cycle can be closed, uranium could become equivalent to renewable energy sources as concerns its availability. Breeding and nuclear reprocessing potentially would allow the extraction of the largest amount of energy from natural uranium. However, only a small amount of uranium is currently being bred into plutonium and only a small amount of fissile uranium and plutonium is being recovered from nuclear waste worldwide. Furthermore, the technologies to completely eliminate the waste in the nuclear fuel cycle do not yet exist. Since the nuclear fuel cycle is effectively not closed, Hubbert peak theory may be applicable.

Pessimistic predictions of future high-grade uranium production operate on the thesis that either the peak has already occurred in the 1980s or that a second peak may occur sometime around 2035.

At the start of 2015, identified uranium reserves recoverable at US$130/kg were 5.7 million tons. At the rate of consumption in 2014, these reserves are sufficient for 135 years of supply. The identified reserves as of 2015 recoverable at US$260/kg are 7.6 million tons.Optimistic predictions are based upon 3 factors:

Light Water Reactors only consume about half of one percent of their uranium fuel while fast breeder reactors will consume closer to 99%,

current reserves of U are about 5.3 million tons. Theoretically 4.5 billion tons of uranium are available from sea water at about 10 times the current price of uranium. Currently no practical methods for high volume extraction exist.

thorium (3–4 times as abundant as uranium) might be used when supplies of uranium are depleted. However, in 2010, the UK’s National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) concluded that for the short to medium term, "...the thorium fuel cycle does not currently have a role to play," in that it is "technically immature, and would require a significant financial investment and risk without clear benefits," and concluded that the benefits have been "overstated."If these predictions became reality it has the potential to increase the supply of nuclear fuel significantly. Currently, despite decades of research, there are no commercially practical Thorium reactors in operation.

Optimistic predictions claim that the supply is far more than demand and do not predict peak uranium.


The SNR-300 was a fast breeder sodium cooled nuclear reactor built near the town of Kalkar, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.

The reactor was completed but never taken online.

SNR-300 was to output 327 megawatts.

The project cost about 7 billion Deutsche Mark (about €3.5 billion or over $4 billion). The site is now the location of a theme park, Wunderland Kalkar, which incorporates much of the power plant buildings into the scenery.

Sodium-cooled fast reactor

A sodium-cooled fast reactor is a fast neutron reactor cooled by liquid sodium.

The acronym SFR particularly refers to two Generation IV reactor proposals, one based on existing LMFR technology using MOX fuel, the other based on the metal-fueled integral fast reactor.

Several sodium-cooled fast reactors have been built, some still in operation, and others are in planning or under construction.

Steam generator (nuclear power)

Steam generators are heat exchangers used to convert water into steam from heat produced in a nuclear reactor core. They are used in pressurized water reactors (PWR) between the primary and secondary coolant loops.

In other types of reactors, such as the pressurised heavy water reactors of the CANDU design, the primary fluid is heavy water. Liquid metal cooled reactors such as the Russian BN-600 reactor also use heat exchangers between primary metal coolant and at the secondary water coolant.

Boiling water reactors (BWR) do not use steam generators, as turbine steam is produced directly in the reactor core. Activation of oxygen and dissolved nitrogen in the water means that the turbine hall is inaccessible during reactor operation and for some time afterwards.


Uranium-238 (238U or U-238) is the most common isotope of uranium found in nature, with a relative abundance of 99%. Unlike uranium-235, it is non-fissile, which means it cannot sustain a chain reaction in a thermal-neutron reactor. However, it is fissionable by fast neutrons, and is fertile, meaning it can be transmuted to fissile plutonium-239. 238U cannot support a chain reaction because inelastic scattering reduces neutron energy below the range where fast fission of one or more next-generation nuclei is probable. Doppler broadening of U-238's neutron absorption resonances, increasing absorption as fuel temperature increases, is also an essential negative feedback mechanism for reactor control.

Around 99.286% of natural uranium's mass is uranium-238, which has a half-life of 1.41×1017 seconds (4.468×109 years, or 4.468 billion years).

Due to its natural abundance and half-life relative to other radioactive elements, 238U produces ~40% of the radioactive heat produced within the Earth. 238U decay contributes 6 electron anti-neutrinos per decay (1 per beta decay), resulting in a large detectable geoneutrino signal when decays occur within the Earth. The decay of 238U to daughter isotopes is extensively used in radiometric dating, particularly for material older than ~ 1 million years.

Depleted uranium has an even higher concentration of the 238U isotope, and even low-enriched uranium (LEU), while having a higher proportion of the uranium-235 isotope (in comparison to depleted uranium), is still mostly 238U. Reprocessed uranium is also mainly 238U, with about as much uranium-235 as natural uranium, a comparable proportion of uranium-236, and much smaller amounts of other isotopes of uranium such as uranium-234, uranium-233, and uranium-232.

Light water
Heavy water
by coolant

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