Important Note: This website contains historical data from the INSP project. As of 2004 the site is no longer maintained and certain sections do not work correctly.
Beloyarsk Design CharacteristicsThe sole operating unit at Beloyarsk, the BN-600, is a sodium-cooled breeder reactor that generates new fuel as it operates.
BN-600 is a three-loop "pool" design, meaning that the major components--such as the reactor and recirculating pumps--are submerged in a large pool of liquid sodium. BN-600 is the second-largest breeder reactor in the world, behind the French Super Phenix.
The plant features a modular steam generator design that allows the steam generators to be repaired while the plant is online.
Beloyarsk has no overhead containment structure; a standard industrial building and a protective shroud cover the reactor.
Soviet and Russian Breeder Reactor Programs
The first Soviet breeder reactor, an experimental 200-kilowatt unit, began operating in 1956 at the research and design center at Obninsk. The reactor was eventually upgraded to a 10-megawatt model.
A 135-megawatt breeder, BN-300, has operated since 1972 in Kazakhstan at Aktau (formerly Shevchenko) on the Caspian Sea. The unit also desalinates about 80,000 tons of water each year for the city of Aktau. The plant was troubled by a sodium/water reaction in 1975 that resulted in a two-hour sodium fire.
The Soviets began work on a larger breeder reactor, BN-800, at the Beloyarsk site. According to 1990 reports, work on the unit had slowed to a near halt. In its 20-year nuclear plant construction plan, announced in December 1992, the Russian government called for completion of the BN-800 reactor after the year 2000, as well as the construction of three BN-800 units at the South Urals site by 2000. But in December 1995, an atomic energy ministry spokesman reportedly said that two BN-800s would be built at the site sometime after 2000.
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