NUKEM Awarded Detail Design for the PBMR Pilot Fuel Plant in South Africa
On August 24, representatives of RWE NUKEM GmbH and PBMR (Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (Pty.) Ltd.) signed a contract for the detail design of the fuel production process for the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor project in South Africa. The PBMR Pilot Fuel Plant will be located on the Nuclear Site Pelindaba, about 100 km northwest of Johannesburg. It will be built in order to qualify the fuel manufacturing process and to deliver the first core load for the reference Modular Reactor. In a first step the production of 270,000 high temperature resistant fuel elements per year is planned. The design of the fuel elements is based on the German HTR-Fuel design of moulded graphite spheres containing coated fuel particles, consisting of Uranium Dioxide. Each kernel is coated with a layer of porous carbon, two high density layers of pyrolytic carbon, with a layer of silicon carbide in between. The production of the spherical fuel spheres takes place in the following four major process steps according to the former NUKEM/HOBEG fuel production processes for the German HTR Projects (AVR and THTR):
- Kernel production process
- Coating process
- Matrix production process
- Fuel sphere production process
The contract covers the detail design of three out of four of these processes for the production of the spherical fuel elements as well as two processes for the recycling of effluents and uranium resulting from scrap material. Initially, the duration of the contract is scheduled for 24 months including later options for consultancy, technical services, on site support and supervision services. Since the year 2000, NUKEM is deeply involved in the design of the Pilot Fuel Plant for the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor project in South Africa. Now, after the completion of the Basic Engineering and after the successful performance of the HAZOP II, the company is pleased to start with the Phase II, the Detail Design of the fuel production processes.