ROSATOM develops the nuclear fuel elements for the nuclear icebreaker Leader
Bochvar Institute (VNIINM, a research facility of TVEL Fuel Company of ROSATOM) has developed hardware components for the reactor core of the ultra-large nuclear icebreaker Project 10510 also known as the Leader. Under the contract with Afrikantov OKB Mechanical Engineering (Rosatom company, developer of nuclear reactors), the institute team has developed technical designs of a starting neutron source, a fuel rod and a burnable poison rod. Besides, a structure pipe made of E635 zirconium alloy was designed and launched into production at the Chepetsk Mechanical Plant (a facility of TVEL Fuel Company of ROSATOM). This structure pipe is used to accommodate the rods of compensating groups of the reactor control and protection system.
The next-generation Leader-class icebreaker is powered by two RITM-400 reactors, which are 1.8 times as powerful as RITM-200 reactors, created for the cutting-edge universal Project 22220 nuclear icebreakers; the lead ship is Arktika, icebreakers Siberia, Ural, Yakutia and Chukotka are under construction).
Unlike UNI, which are maneuverable enough to operate not only in deep water, but also in shallow water and in the mouths of polar rivers, the Leader's capacity is its primarily advantage. The icebreaker total capacity is 120 MW, enough to break up to 4-metre-thick ice. The heavy-duty nuclear icebreaker 10510 will be able to lay a channel about fifty meters wide. It will assist in a year-round escorting of large-tonnage vessels throughout the entire Northern Sea Route. This nuclear-powered icebreaker is able to provide escort for transport ships at a speed of 12 knots in up to 2-metre-thick ice.
“Leader needs 1.4 times as much fuel as Arktika, so fuel element volume has been increased. In addition, unlike RITM-200 reactor units, RITM-400 reactors do not have a cassette zone with a set of six-sided fuel assemblies with cylindrical fuel elements and stringers. They have a channel zone with a set of cylindrical fuel elements with self-spaced fuel elements of a complex profile,” Gennady Kulakov, the Director of Research and Development Department for Fuel Elements and Fuels of Bochvar Institute noted.
Just like in the Arktika, the Leader core features an increased service life of nuclear fuel. Currently operating nuclear icebreakers need refueling every 5-6 years, but RITM-400 nuclear reactor core needs to be refueled only once every 10 years.
“TVEL Fuel Company of ROSATOM has been developing and producing fuel for nuclear icebreakers for more than sixty years. This expertise is already being used in development fuel for low-power nuclear power plants, which are considered one of the promising technologies for the energy sector in the 21st century. The first floating NPP Akademik Lomonosov features two ice-breaking reactors KLT-40S, currently fuel is being developed for the first Russian on-shore low power NPP with RITM-200 reactors," Alexander Ugryumov, the TVEL Vice President for Research, Development and Quality, said.
Nuclear fuel for all icebreakers and floating nuclear power plant Akademik Lomonosov is produced by Elemash Machine-building Plant, an enterprise of TVEL Fuel Company in Elektrostal, Moscow Region.