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State Funding For Russia’s MBIR Reactor

Russian State Development Corporation VEB.RF and Gazprombank will finance construction of the MBIR multipurpose fast neutron research reactor being built in at the Russian Institute of Atomic Reactors (NIIAR) in Dimitrovgrad to the tune of RUB80 billion ($1.27bn), Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev told a meeting of the VEB.RF supervisory board on 13 December.

He said MBIR is being developed together with foreign partners including investors from France, China, the Czech Republic, South Korea, and the USA. MBIR, a 150MWt, multi-loop sodium-cooled fast research reactor, has been under construction at NIIAR since September 2015. Equipment production started in 2016. MBIR was originally scheduled for completion in 2020. However, the schedule has shifted and, according to NIIAR’s annual report for 2018, the commissioning of the reactor for commercial operation is now scheduled for 2025.

MBIR will have a design life of up to 50 years will use vibro-packed mixed-oxide fuel. VMOX is a Russian variant of mox fuel in which blended uranium-plutonium oxide powders and fresh uranium-oxide powder are loaded directly into the cladding tube of the fuel assembly instead of first being manufactured into pellets. NIIAR intends to set up on-site closed fuel cycle facilities for MBIR, using pyrochemical reprocessing it has developed at pilot scale.

MBIR will be used for materials testing for Generation IV fast neutron reactors. It will be capable of testing lead, lead-bismuth and gas coolants. NIIAR intends to set up on-site closed fuel cycle facilities to support research work, using pyrochemical reprocessing it has developed at pilot scale.