Beryllium for Kazakhstan’s reactor
Beryllium facility of Ulba Metallurgical Plant had manufactured essential parts for WWR-K reactor ordered by Nuclear Physics institute of National nuclear centre of Republic of Kazakhstan. At the end of June parts were delivered to purchaser and got positive comments from specialists who carried out the acceptance.
This work took half year and great efforts of production-technical bureau and 3A shop crew. Contract for manufacturing of beryllium items for WWR-K reactor was concluded in December, 2009. Since that time to implement this complicated task a lot of work had been done.
With the aim to reduce risks of terroristic threat process of conversion from using highly enriched uranium to using low degree of uranium enrichment is being carried out throughout the word - senior researcher of nuclear energy safety problems laboratory of Nuclear Physics institute Shamil Gizatulin says. – We have started this work with the aim to convert WWR-K reactor to nuclear fuel with 19.7% enrichment instead of nuclear fuel with 36% enrichment. The project is carried out with assistance of International Atomic Energy Agency, Department of Energy (DOE) and Argonne National laboratory.
Pursuing of the aim is impossible without significant changes of core structure.
Reducing of degree of enrichment is usually adversely affect performances of reactor. With the aim to keep necessary parameters it was required to change core structure to reduce the volume of core.
After pre-estimation we have found that it’s necessary to surround the core by beryllium blocks. The bocks will be working as neutron reflectors. The presence of these blocks will allow achieving results even if in case of using fuel with enrichment lower than present. Moreover I suppose that reactor’s characteristics will improve.
First we planned to test in present core only three assembles with low enriched fuel. To carry out these tests we need special device with complex construction structure made of beryllium and 28 hexagonal beryllium blocks for reflector. The crew worked hard to achieve good results. Designers have made more than 120 units of drawings of furniture and special measuring instruments.
It wasn’t easy to obtain beryllium of reactor grade which is the material with tailor made properties required for work in the core. All details were made at press of 7500 t.
Another milestone of order pursuing was machining of articles which had complex shape. Altogether nearly 80 details were manufactured. By the way apart from beryllium, beryllium bronze, stainless steel and special aluminum alloy were also required. All details manufactured are high grade.
Now we forward them to Almaty to install in reactor together with three fuel assemblies containing uranium of 19,7 % enrichment.
The reactor is used as in scientific fields so in obtaining of radioisotopes, radioisotope tracers, sealed radioactive sources for industry and medicine. So this work will serve for innovation development of Republic of Kazakhstan.
Our crew successfully got around the problem. All that we planned was done in time and with high quality and in full accordance with strict requirements to articles for work in nuclear reactor.
We are ready to further collaboration with Nuclear Physics institute and execution of a new orders provided by atomic scientists.
In the latter half of the year specialists of Nuclear Physics institute planned to test reactor purpose beryllium items manufactured at JSC “UMP”. The items will undergo reactor irradiation and will be tested after that. This work is useful for forecasting properties of neutron reflectors of different types of reactors.
Nowadays the opportunity of end-cutting details for beryllium reflector blocks manufacturing order placing is under consideration.