The first batch of sodium coolant has been added to a forthcoming fast reactor at the Beloyarsk nuclear power plant in Russia. The new unit is slated for start-up next year.
Beloyarsk 4 is a BN-800 fast neutron reactor designed by OKBM Afrikantov which will use liquid sodium to transfer heat from the reactor core to a water system that drives a steam turbine and generator. Another smaller fast reactor unit already generates power at the site and similar BN-series units are planned for China as part of a cooperation project with Russia.
An 18.5 tonne batch of the metal was accepted at the power plant site late last year. Having been transported in solid form, it was warmed up to a liquid state and transferred into a storage tank within Beloyarsk 4's reactor system. A total of 2000 tonnes will be needed for the reactor to begin operation, which is expected in 2014.
The sodium was supplied by MSSA Metaux Speciaux of France, which started producing 'nuclear grade' sodium in the 1960s. It supplied sodium to France's Superphenix fast reactor as well as Japan's Monju unit.