Kazatomprom is about to start supplying its new nuclear fuel to China

Special correspondent of the "News" department
Kazatomprom is going to launch a new design for the production of nuclear fuel / Photo: Kazatompom

Ulba-TVS, a subsidiary of the national nuclear company Kazatomprom, has been certified for the production of nuclear fuel assemblies of the AFA 3GTM A design, Kazatomprom said in a statement.

«Kazatomprom announces that the joint Kazakhstani-Chinese company Ulba-TVS has completed the certification process for its production of nuclear fuel assemblies under AFA 3GTM A design. The company produces nuclear fuel for nuclear power plants in China. The document confirming that the plant’s products meet all the requirements, norms and quality standards has been issued by Framatome, a French company that owns the technology,» the company said. 

The certification process of the new nuclear fuel assembly’s production was launched in March 2023 and has been implemented in four stages. When the process was finished, the plant successfully proved the high quality of its products. After the certification, the plant is expected to start production of the new AFA 3GTM A design for its nuclear fuel assembly in addition to the current AFA 3GTM AA design.

In 2024, Kazatomprom is going to launch production of AFA 3GTM A design fuel assembly on an industrial scale and export these products to Chinese nuclear plants. The nuclear fuel assembly is an engineering construction designed to hold nuclear fuel rods filled with uranium fuel pellets. Such assemblies are used as fuel for nuclear power stations. Ulba Metallurgical Plant (UMP), another subsidiary of Kazatomprom, produces these uranium-fuel pellets.

Ulba-TVS said that it secured guaranteed access to the Chinese market for the next 20 years. UMP controls 51% of Ulba-TVS, while Chinese CGNPC-URC (a subsidiary of CGNPC) owns the remaining 49% of the plant. Ulba-TVS has a capacity of 200 tons of nuclear fuel assembly per year or 440 assemblies, which weigh about 500 kilograms each. The facility was supposed to reach this capacity last year.

Ulba-TVS produces nuclear fuel assembly under AFA 3G design by French Framatome. As the plant’s management noted, it can produce 200 tons of the product by working in one shift and can expand its production to 400 tons per year by switching to double-shift operation mode. In July 2023, Sergey Bezhetskiy, head of the UMP said that the company was negotiating with the Chinese side about expanding the supply of Kazakhstani-made fuel assembly to Chinese nuclear power stations.

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