Generation III+ VVER nuclear reactors

By D E Kolchinsky, A V Molchanov, V V Bezlepkin, A M Altshuller (St Petersburg Atomenergoproekt, a branch of VNIPIET, Russia), Ryan Collyer (Rosatom South Africa


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The common name for the Water-Water Energetic Reactor (VVER) is Pressurised Water Reactor (PWR). It is the most widely used nuclear power reactor technology in the world today. VVER (Water-Water Energetic Reactor) is one of the most successful and influential branches of nuclear power plant development, and the technology is widely distributed throughout the world. VVER technology was developed in-house by OKB Gidropress, a research division of global nuclear company, Rosatom, while the nuclear power plant projects using this technology were implemented by three engineering organisations of this company Atomenergoproekt in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Nizhny Novgorod. However, the Russian VVER reactor and the materials used for its construction differ significantly from other PWR reactors. The main features of the VVER are as follows:

• Use of horizontal steam generators, which reduces the risk of corrosion and malfunction, facilitates repair and maintenance – and ultimately reduces costs
• Use of hexagonal fuel assemblies, which increase the technical and economic characteristics of the fuel by increasing the duration of the campaign and the introduction of extended fuel cycles
• Preventing the release of fission products outside the sub-reactor cavity, based on completely independent systems and taking into account all requirements of the IAEA, including the ‘post-Fukushima’ standard SSR-2.1
• High-power pressure compensation system, ensuring a long, safe and failure free operation steam-generating unit
Fifty years’ experience has been accumulated through the successful operation of NPPs using VVER technology and a total of over 1 400 reactor years have been achieved. Nuclear power plants with VVER-type reactors are built with the participation of Russian specialists in Finland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary amongst other countries.


Take note

  • Nuclear bulk energy generation will be part of the energy mix going forward.
  • PWRs are the most commonly used nuclear power reactors in the world.
  • Whereas nuclear generation is inherently safe, each experience in the world leads to improved design and implementation.