Russian Kurchatov Institute completes design of hybrid power plant

Specialists from the Kurchatov Institute of Russia, working on the development of a fusion-fission hybrid power plant, have completed its preliminary design.

During work on the project, specialists solved a number of problems – from the justification of the physical principles of the installation to the safety of its operation.

The results of this work have been published in the journals Nuclear Fusion, Fusion Science and Technology and Fusion Engineering and Design.

Hybrid systems are based on the combined use of thermonuclear fusion and nuclear fission reactions. Thermonuclear fusion is not used directly to generate electricity but as a source of neutrons that controls the subcritical core of a nuclear reactor. Using hybrid technologies, it is possible to efficiently process long-lived nuclear waste from nuclear power plants – minor actinides, as well as to obtain new types of fuel for fission reactors.

“The depletion of fossil natural resources and environmental problems require the creation of new sources of energy supply. In this regard, hybrid technology is one of the promising strategies, since it allows to close the nuclear fuel cycle and improve its environmental performance, “explained Boris Kuteev, deputy head of the tokamak department for hybrid systems at the complex of Kurchatov of thermonuclear and plasma energy technologies.

With this technology, long-lived waste from nuclear power plants can be recycled efficiently. For example, an industrial hybrid power plant with a capacity of 1 GWe is sufficient to process all the high activity nuclides accumulated in Russia, to supply fuel to two thermal neutron power plants, or to launch a fast neutron power plant. he declares.

During the work on the “hybrid” project, scientists justified the physical principles of the installation, wrote program codes, developed individual architectural elements to integrate them into a single system, and solved security issues. .

Significant progress has been made in the optimization of structural and functional materials for thermonuclear reactors and hybrid systems. In addition, approaches have been proposed for further heating of the plasma with neutron beams and a fuel cycle architecture has been developed.

“The feeding of the plasma with thermonuclear fuel – heavy isotopes of hydrogen (deuterium and tritium), the elimination of the products of a thermonuclear reaction (helium) and, above all, the possibility of multiple use of the fuel mixture in the fuel cycle provides conditions for the continuous operation of a thermonuclear reactor and a hybrid system, ”explained the eminent researcher Sergei Ananiev.

He said the DEMO-TIN thermonuclear neutron source will become the first hybrid facility to demonstrate core technologies and their integration into a single energy complex.

At this point, the researchers have defined the requirements for the experimental equipment and are ready to start creating a prototype to test a promising hybrid technology at a thermal power level of up to 500 MW. The work also involved specialists from the DV Efremov Scientific Research Institute on Electrophysical Devices (NIIEFA), the NN Dollezhal Energy Engineering Research and Development Institute (NIKIET) and the Peter Polytechnic University. the Great of St. Petersburg (SPbPU).

Previously, it had been reported that Rosatom had developed a superconducting wire for the DEMO-TIN hybrid reactor. Scientists from the AA Bochvar Inorganic Materials Research Institute (VNIINM), on the instructions of the fuel company TVEL, completed the development of the design and manufacture technology of superconducting wires for the DEMO-TIN magnetic system .

Experimental batches of niobium-tin strands with a diameter of 1.0 mm were fabricated and passed the acceptance tests for compliance with the technical requirements of NIIEFA, the developer of the magnetic system. The acceptance committee was made up of specialists from TVEL, the Kurchatov Institute, NIIEFA, VNIINM and the Chepetsky Mechanical Factory (ChMZ).

In the central solenoid and toroidal coils of the magnetic system of these power plants, superconducting strands with a current carrying capacity of more than 1100 amps per square millimeter in a field with a magnetic induction of 12 tesla are required. This is clearly superior to the characteristics of the strands previously developed by VNIINM for use in the tokamak ITER (International Thermonuclear Research Reactor) magnetic system.

A distinctive design feature of the new wire is the use of a common barrier that separates a group of multi-fiber elements from an outer copper stabilizing sheath. In turn, each multifiber sub-element is made up of many niobium fibers located in a copper matrix, as well as a source of tin. To increase the current carrying capacity of the niobium-tin strand, each fiber is doped with titanium.

“This development of VNIINM is a serious step towards the creation of a wire for use in the magnetic systems of controlled thermonuclear fusion plants of the DEMO-TIN type. Technology has been created and tested which allows the production of such products in the required quantity. A further step could be developments aimed at optimizing the characteristics of the strands for specific projects, ”said NIIEFA Deputy Director General Igor Rodin.

Leon E. Hill

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