We are at the Novosibirsk Plant of Chemical Concentrates where fuel assemblies for nuclear power plants are made.
Nuclear reactor is something like a huge kettle that boils water. The water is heated under the impact of the chain nuclear reation that happens in the fuel assembly. Such assemblies are produced just here, in Novosibirsk.
Alexander once came to the plant as an ordinary worker but now he is the chief of the shop.
Each time a new assembly is developed, they try to make it better: more rigid, reliable and safe. Old technologies are sold to other countries.
It is the very beginning of the technological chain.
One can walk only within these lines.
Enriched uranium is delivered from Seversk to Novosibirsk.
Now it has to be processed in the way to make fuel pellets from it. It is heated, various ingredients are added etc.
All equipment for this stage of production is developed and produced on the territory of Russia.
Then the fuel of right consistency is packed into such cones.
Now the cones are put into the centrifuges to be rotated.
It’s scary to think what is inside of these pots.
Now the fuel is put into the press for pellets forming.
These little cylinders are nuclear pellets.
Then the pellets go to the furnace for burning via this transporter. When they didn’t have the transporter they had to carry the pellets from one stage to another with their own hands.
This is the furnace. The pellets are burnt and then cooled.
Ready pellets have a different color and smaller weight and size.
Each pellet is to be examined: they shouldn’t have cracks or deformations.
The pellets are packed into containers which are marked and sent to the department where nuclear rods are equipped. The white cylinders on the containers are chips with all information about the content of the container (number of pellets, weight, date of production etc.).
The rod is a zirconium cylinder (very durable and very easy), it is sealed from one end first.
Then the automatic machine equips it with the necessary number of nuclear pellets.
Then a spring is fixed inside, it will hold the pellets. They pump the air out and inject helium gas inside. Then it is sealed from another side.
The process is fully automated. Even the slightest scratch can break the strength of the rod.
Then every rod is thorougly inspected according to numerous parameters.
All information is stored in the computer. Each rod gets a laser marking, so it’s easy to track them all.
Such a “hedgehog” checks the quality of the welding at the ends of the rods avoiding any mechanical impact on the rods itself.
Now all the rods are to be packed.
For one hour this line can equip up to 60 rods.
The amount of defective products is 0,4%.
It is a metalworking shop.
Workers need to rest sometimes too.
Now the rods have come to the final stage of the fuel assembly production. This machine will examine all the rods once again.
Russian fuel assemblies are more reliable than their foreign analogues.
The frames of the fuel assemblies are rather beautiful.
Robot MOTOMANN is used for automatic welding.
The robot is in the test mode, so people do welding manually.
Now the machine will fill the fuel assemblies with the fuel rods.
It only remains to secure the tips and the assembly is ready.
This is a full size model of the fuel assembly standing in the shop.
Bar codes are on each rod. Tips are made by casting in a seamless way, it increases its durability.
For the final test the fuel assemblies are put vertically, tested and packed.
The packed fuel assemblies can be sent to the nuclear power plant.
Some part of work is made by women only.
Someone offered to put instruments into cases of old kits.
Epson machine automatically welds the equipment.
Modern equipment is the lightest.
They have some photos of visitors. This is the Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The plant produces unique fuel assemblies meeting all world standards. New constructions are constantly developed, the products become more and more durable. The latest domestic scientific developments are introduced.
All assemblies are intended to serve for four or five years. There is a belief that someone who produces the assembly that can serve for seven years will capture the world market. The ones produced in Novosibirsk serve for seven years with no complaints.