Barakah unit to start on schedule; new alloy debuts in the 'Code'

Our pick of the latest nuclear power news you need to know.

Barakah nuclear power plant

Unit 1 of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant, located in the Al Dhafra region of the Abu Dhabi Emirate, will reach criticality soon and start up on schedule, CEO of the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) Mohamed Al Hammadi said during a video call on May 6

“Following receipt of the Operating License from the Federal Authority for Nuclear Reregulation (FANR) and completing the load of fuel assemblies into the Unit 1 reactor, we are in the advanced stages of starting-up Unit 1. This Unit will reach criticality very soon,” Hammadi said during a virtual fireside chat with President and CEO of the Atlantic Council Global Energy Center Frederick Kempe. 

The conversation was to discuss the progress being made at the plant, which will have a generating capacity of 5.6 GW once all four units are complete, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on energy systems and the importance of decarbonized, reliable and secure energy systems in the future.

The company and partners have implemented a range of measures to ensure the health and safety of their over 700 employees during the pandemic who have helped to ensure the project would meet its timeline, he said.

"Testing has started also at Units 2, 3 and 4 following the completion of all major construction work," he added.
The plant, being built by Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO), was originally due to begin operations in 2017.

New alloy added to 'Code' for the first time in 30 years

A new alloy, made from a combination of nickel, chromium, cobalt and molybdenum, has been added to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)’s “Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code” (referred to as the Code), the first new material addition in 30 years, the Idaho National Laboratory said in May. 

The Code lays out design rules for levels of acceptable stress and specifies the materials that can be used for power plant construction, including nuclear power plants. 

The material, Alloy 617, was tested by a team at the Idaho National Laboratory working in collaboration with groups at Argonne and Oak Ridge national laboratories, industry consultants and international partners. 

Designers working on new high temperature nuclear power plants have, until now, had only five materials that could be used for high temperature reactors, the Laboratory says.

New proposed reactors will operate more than twice as hot as light water reactors, so any materials must be tested for their tendency to change shape over time, even when exposed to operating temperatures of over 500C.

Czech Republic approves further steps toward new unit at Dukovany plant

The Czech government has agreed to sign an accord with the utility ČEZ and its subsidiary Elektrárna Dukovany II on the framework and implementation that will cover cooperation and construction from tender to operation and the construction of a new unit in Dukovany, the government said in a statement. 

“After today's meeting of the government, the mutual relations between the state and the investor of the new nuclear power plant are clear, which should replace the existing power plant in Dukovany after sixty years of operation,” the government said in the statement. 

The contracts will be submitted for approval by June 30.

“Even the current situation around coronavirus shows that the issues of self-sufficiency and safety are primarily ours, we must rely mainly on ourselves. That is why we need new nuclear resources, that is why we are currently dealing with Dukovany II," Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industry, Trade and Transport Karel Havlíček said. 

The agreement includes granting Havlíček a mandate for talks on the project with the European Commission.

A tender to select a supplier for a new nuclear unit will be launched by the end of the year and a supplier is expected to be chosen by the end of 2022, ČEZ CEO Daniel Beneš said.

Holtec chooses Framatome to supply SMR fuel 

Holtec International has selected Framatome to supply nuclear fuel for the SMR-160 small modular reactor, the company said in a statement. 

The two companies have agreed to enable completion of all necessary engineering to fuel the SMR-160 with Framatone’s 17x17 GAIA fuel assembly, and the accord will substantially reduce the majority of first-of-a-kind-engineering for the fuel system, Holtec said. 

The GAIA fuel assembly design has been determined to be ideally suited for Holtec’s SMR, it said. 

“By adapting the SMR-160 to utilize standard Pressurized Water Reactor fuel in its core design, Holtec has substantially eliminated risks associated with nuclear fuel, ensuring fuel-related operational experience from the current light water reactor fleet operating world-wide is relevant to our reactor,” Holtec said. 

It would also mean the prospective SMR-160 plant owner will have ready access to a robust international fuel supply chain, it added.

“We look forward to leveraging Framatome’s vast reservoir of nuclear fuel know-how accumulated over the past five decades to expeditiously deploy the SMR-160 reactor with truly minimized risk,” Holtec’s CEO, Dr. Kris Singh said.

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