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Akkuyu: First polar crane commissioned, fuel loading equipment delivered

The circular overhead crane in the first unit of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant in Turkey has been put into operation. The first components of the fuel reloading system have also been delivered, TVEL says.

The polar crane has a lifting capacity of 390 tonnes, a diameter of 41.5 metres with the weight of the entire structure being about 500 tonnes.

It will play a key role throughout the lifecycle of unit 1 at the new nuclear power plant – initially it will be involved in lifting and moving during assembly of the nuclear reactor, and then in the years ahead for reloading and inspecting the reactor and delivering nuclear fuel to the special reloading machine.

Sergei Butskikh, First Deputy General Director of Akkuyu Nuclear JSC, said: “The crane is a complex technological engineering structure consisting of several components – a bridge, a service trolley, a control cabin with a touch screen monitor, and special control cabinets, which are installed in a separate room outside the sealed area of ​​the reactor compartment. I would like to note that safety is our priority.”

Meanwhile, TVEL’s Central Design and Technological Institute (CPTI) said it has delivered the first component for unit 1’s earthquake-resistant fuel reloading machine, which is designed to load nuclear fuel into the reactor core and replace used nuclear fuel with fresh fuel.

The first element sent was the rail track, which TVEL said is 26 metres long, with an 8 metre width and designed “in such a way as to exclude uncontrolled movements of equipment during seismic impacts, blackouts and other emergency situations … the reloading machine equipment is one of the most complex systems in the reactor island complex of a nuclear power plant. It combines mechanical, lifting, electrical devices, a control system and must have high accuracy to perform work with fuel assemblies in a nuclear reactor”. The allowable error for the machine in reaching the correct location is 2 millimetres, and the slope of track must not exceed 0.15 millimetres per metre of length.

Mikhail Tarasov, General Director of CPTI, said; “Taking into account the specific features of the Akkuyu NPP construction site, the project turned out to be unique. We are successfully moving towards the delivery of a full set of equipment for the first power unit, which is planned until the end of 2023.” Their contract includes the supply of the same equipment for all four power units and the company also has a contract to supply the reloading machines for the four units at the El Dabaa nuclear power plant in Egypt.

The Akkuyu plant, in the southern Mersin province, is Turkey’s first nuclear power plant. Rosatom is building four VVER-1200 reactors, under a so-called BOO (build-own-operate) model. Construction of the first unit began in 2018 and is scheduled to have its physical start-up next year. The 4800 MWe plant is expected to meet about 10% of Turkey’s electricity needs, with the aim that all four units will be operational by the end of 2028.

Source: World Nuclear News