Plant Operation

Russia / Work To Begin On Beloyarsk-3 Life Extension To 60 Years

By David Dalton
8 April 2021

BN-600 fast breeder reactor could operate until 2040
Work To Begin On Beloyarsk-3 Life Extension To 60 Years
The turbine hall at the Beloyarsk-3 fast breeder nuclear plant in Russia. Courtesy Rosatom.
The operator of the Beloyarsk-3 nuclear power plant in Sverdlovsk Oblast, central Russia, is planning to carry out work that could see the BN-600 fast breeder reactor unit operate for 60 years, the official Tass news agency reported.

According to Tass, specialists will replace 24 steam generator modules at the 560 -MW plant as part of a project to extend its service life until 2040. The unit began commercial operation in November 1981. Work will also include inspection of the reactor, turbine equipment and security systems.

In April 2020, Russia’s nuclear regulator Rostekhnadzor granted a licence for Beloyarsk-3 to operate until 2025. The BN-600 is the only fast breeder reactor that has operated for 40 years.

A second plant at the Beloyarsk site, the 820-MW BN-800 fast breeder reactor Beloyarsk-4, began commercial operation in October 2016.

About 20 fast breeder reactors have already been operating, some as early as the 1950s and some supplying electricity commercially. They have been and are being explored in the US, Russia, France, the UK, India, Japan, China and Germany.

A fast breeder reactor is one that generates more fissile material than it consumes. Fast breeder reactors allow a significant increase in the amount of energy obtained from natural, depleted and recycled uranium. The technology also enables plutonium and other actinides to be used and recycled, considerably reducing the amount of long-living radioactive waste.

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