Leningrad II unit reaches first criticality

September 2, 2020, 9:27AMNuclear News

Rosatom officials and plant staff celebrate in the control room at Leningrad II-2 as the unit achieves first criticality. Photo: Rosatom

Rosenergoatom, the electric power division of Rosatom, Russia’s state-owned nuclear power corporation, announced on August 31 that Leningrad II-2 has achieved initial criticality. The unit is one of two Generation III+ VVER-1200 pressurized water reactors at the Leningrad nuclear plant.

Leningrad II-2 is scheduled for commercial start early next year, replacing Leningrad I-2, a 925-MWe RBMK-1000 light-water–cooled graphite-moderated reactor that will permanently cease operation at the end of 2020 after 45 years of service. Fuel loading at Leningrad II-2 began in July.

What they’re saying: “The minimum controllable power is the lowest capacity level that enables us to conduct a number of tests and to verify the physical parameters of the reactor core to make sure it complies with the project requirements,” said Alexander Belyaev, Leningrad II chief engineer. “Once these operations are completed and the associated calculations are submitted to Rostekhnadzor [the Russian agency responsible for drafting and implementing government policy and legal regulation in the field of technological and nuclear oversight], we will have to obtain a power start-up license and to start gradual power ramp-up.”

More than 50 tests will be conducted at the unit in accordance with the physical launch schedule, Rosenergoatom said. These tests, the company added, “will help to specify the neutron-physical parameters of the nuclear reactor’s first fuel loading” and confirm that the “reactor facility’s nuclear safety systems are working in a reliable manner.”

Background: The VVER-1200 is the world’s only Generation III+ design in serial construction, according to Rosatom. Leningrad II-2 will be the fourth in the series, following Novovoronezh II-1 and -2, launched in 2016 and 2019, respectively, and Leningrad II-1, launched in 2017.

Earlier in August this year, Rosenergoatom announced that preparations have begun for the construction of two more VVER-1200 units at the Leningrad site.

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