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Ukraine Will Help Europe Switch to Westinghouse Nuclear Fuel

06 March 2023

State Enterprise State Scientific and Technical Center for Nuclear and Radiation Safety (SSTC NRS) will take part in the project to replace Russian TVEL nuclear fuel with American Westinghouse.

State Scientific and Technical Center for Nuclear and Radiation Safety will take part in the European project, which is implemented with the financial support of the European Commission and is aimed at the implementation of a safe supply of Westinghouse fuel for reactors of the VVER type, in particular, we are talking about reactors such as VVER-1000 and VVER-440.

As reported on the website of the State Enterprise, at the end of February, a kick-off meeting for the APIS project was held at the Westinghouse Electric Sweden office in the city of Västerös (Sweden).

The APIS project primarily involves the development of a new generation fuel design and regulatory documentation for its implementation in VVER-type reactors of European countries that seek to reduce, or even eliminate, dependence on Russia.

SSTC NRS will perform work within seven of the 11 work packages and will lead the work package that will study the impact of the introduction of new generation fuel on the long-term operation of power units. It is also expected that the specialists of SSTC NRS will participate in knowledge dissemination activities.

The message states that Ukraine has unique experience in fuel diversification for VVER-1000 type reactors. Currently, seven active zones of VVER-1000 reactors are loaded with Westinghouse Electric Company fuel. Rivne NPP VVER-440 units 1 and 2 are next in line. It is envisaged that already in the spring, power unit 2 will start operating with the fuel of the American company in the core.

Currently, preparatory work for the introduction of American fuel is also underway at Kozloduy NPP (Bulgaria).

Westinghouse Electric Company and the Spanish company Enusa signed an agreement on cooperation in the production of fuel for VVER-440 in order to further implement the project. Enusa plans to complete the construction of the production line for the new fuel at the plant in Juzbado and obtain a license already this year, which will allow fuel deliveries as early as early 2024.

In addition, Westinghouse and Enusa are expected to produce the fuel at their plants in Westeros and Juzbado.

One of the advantages of Westinghouse fuel is high producibility, which allows for, in case of the depressurization of individual American-made fuel elements, replacing and returning the fuel cartridge to operation, while Russian assemblies, the remainder of which will finish up their resource at Ukrainian NPPs, become unsuitable for the further use in such situations. In addition, Westinghouse fuel will increase the capacity of NPP power units to 105-110%.

The APIS project is designed for three years, during which time the necessary regulatory documentation for the licensing and loading of Westinghouse fuel into the active zones of VVER of European NPPs will be drafted.

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