The reactor of the innovative unit No 1 of Leningrad NPP-2 (Sosnovy Bor, a branch of Rosenergoatom Concern, a part of the largest Rosatom's division Electric Energy) of the newest 3+ generation has been fully loaded with fresh nuclear fuel under the physical start-up program.
In the evening of 17 December, 2017, the last of the 163 fuel assemblies (FAs) was loaded into the reactor core. In the nearest future specialists will start assembling and compacting the reactor.
It is to be recalled that the physical start-up stage of Leningrad NPP-2 power unit No 1 (No 5 of LNPP) has begun on 8 December with the loading of the first fuel assemblies. During this stage the neutron-physical characteristics of the core necessary for operating the reactor are estimated. It marked the beginning of a larger stage of works on the preparation of the power unit No 1 for the power start-up and the start of energy generation.
“The FAs were downloaded sequentially in accordance with the schedule and the developed cartogram”, Vladimir Shtatskiy, the Head of the Centralized Repair Shop of Leningrad NPP under construction, described the details of the most important operation. “At the same time, the fuel was gradually delivered to the construction site of the operating LNPP where it was temporarily stored. From the fresh fuel storage, where the incoming fuel control was conducted, the fuel assemblies were reloaded into special transport covers and then moved to the central hall of the reactor building. The loading process itself was carried out by a reloading machine, which moved the FAs from the multi-purpose seat to the reactor core. To date, all 163 assemblies with nuclear fuel have been loaded into the reactor. All transport and technological operations have passed in the normal mode; mechanisms and systems work without remarks and in accordance with the project.”
All works on the fuel assemblies in the fresh fuel storage facility and the reloading machine in the reactor building central hall were carried out in accordance with the schedule and cartograms developed in the YASTREB software tool, which made it possible to increase the automation level of the FA handling processes and shorten the preparation time. This software was developed at LNPP-2 under construction and tested for the first time at the stage of assembly imitators loading.
The full loading of the FAs is a preparatory stage before the next physical start-up operation – putting the reactor unit to the minimum controllable power (MCP). At the beginning of 2018, the decisive stage of start-up operations – the power start-up and the delivering of electric energy to the consumers – will begin. The commissioning of Leningrad NPP-2 unit No 1 is expected in 2018. It will mean that the Rosenergoatom Concern's fleet of units of the 3+ generation will expand to two (including the unit No 1 of NVNPP-2).
Today, Leningrad NPP is the largest electricity producer in the North-West of Russia. The Plant produces about 50% of the energy in the region. The commissioning of new LNPP-2 units will allow to save the production volume, including for the gradual replacement of the existing capacities of the Phase I of Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant, and to provide electric energy generation in the amount of more than 30 billion kWh per year (per 4 VVER-1200 power units). In addition, the introduction of a new unit will bring a significant share of additional taxes to the budget of Leningrad Oblast. It is expected that in 2019 this amount will be about 2.7 billion rubles.
The Leningrad NPP is an affiliate company for Rosenergoatom Concern OJSC. The plant is based in the city of Sosnovy Bor, 40 km to the west from Saint Petersburg at the Gulf of Finland shore. The Leningrad NPP is the first Russian nuclear power plant having RBMK-1000 reactors (uranium-graphite channel-type thermal neutron reactors). The NPP exploits 4 power blocks with the electric capacity of 1000 megawatt each. Also, pursuant to the NPP-2006 project, 1,2 VVER-1200 power blocks included into The State Atomic Energy Corporation ROSATOM long-term plan are being constructed. Rosenergoatom Concern OJSC is the owner and developer of the project. Holding TITAN-2 is the primary contractor. ATOMPROEKT is the general designer.