Izvestiya vuzov. Yadernaya Energetika

The peer-reviewed scientific and technology journal. ISSN: 0204-3327

Problems of Decommissioning Fast Reactors and Ways of their Solution on the Basis of the BR-10 Research Reactor

6/20/2022 2022 - #02 Decommissioning

Smykov V.B.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.26583/npe.2022.2.09

UDC: 621.181.6

At the IPPE JSC, the BR-10 research reactor was completely shut down in December 2002 after 43 years of operation. Over the years of operation, BR-10 accumulated approximately 18 – 19 m3 of alkali metals (Na of the primary and secondary circuits, Na-K alloy with mercury as an impurity), which were used as a liquid metal coolant in the primary and secondary reactor circuits and in some equipment. These wastes of alkali metals were formed as a result of three replacements of coolants in the reactor.

To process Na and Na-K alloy, the method of solid-phase oxidation (SPO) with dump slag from copper smelting production sites was chosen at BR-10. In the process of developing the technology, the complete processing of Na and Na-K alloy into a solid mineral-like product and the hydrogen safety of the SPO process were experimentally proved. Based on the results obtained, the MAGMA-SPO module with a processing capacity of 50 liters of radioactive Na per load was developed, manufactured and put into operation. The entire volume of radioactive secondary sodium (about 5.4 m3) has been processed at the MAGMA-SPO module, processing of radioactive primary sodium has begun.

To solve the problem of neutralizing Na nondrainable residues in some equipment of the reactor, the use of gas mixtures was investigated; they are based on nitrous oxide N2O, which does not generate explosive hydrogen in the course of interaction with sodium. On the basis of the scientific results obtained, the LUIZA-RW module was developed, manufactured and put into operation for the neutralization of nondrainable residues of radioactive sodium in the spent cold traps of the primary and secondary circuits and in the drain tanks of the secondary and primary circuits. At the LUIZA-RW module, two spent cold traps of the secondary circuit, nine cold traps of the primary circuit and two tanks were neutralized.

To solve the problem of purifying the NaKHg alloy from mercury, a method was found in the field of liquid metal chromatography – metallic magnesium was used as a sorbent selective to mercury when the NaKHg ternary alloy was pumped through it. Research and bench tests of the method gave a very promising practical result: with a single filtration of the NaKHg alloy through a magnesium sorbent, the degree of purification of the alloy from mercury reached 96 – 98%. Based on the results obtained, the GETTER module was developed, manufactured and installed at the BR-10 research reactor. In further studies, it was shown that a magnesium sorbent saturated with mercury can be safely disposed by separating mercury from it in the form of an insoluble solid precipitate consisting of cinnabar HgS (a natural mineral).


  1. Kononyuk M.H., Smykov V.B., Lukianov А.A., Bagdasarov Yu.E. Development of Technology for Processing Radioactive Waste from Alkaline Coolants by the SPO Method. Selected Papers of IPPE, Obninsk, 2001, pp. 64-67 (in Russian).
  2. Smykov V.B, Kononyuk M.H, Lukianov А.A, Bagdasarov Yu.E., Belinsky V.S., Borisov V.V., Kryuchkov E.A., Kuzin V.V., Poplavsky V.M., Kamaev A.A. Method for Processing Alkali Metal Contaminated with Radioactive Impurities and a Device for its Implementation: RF Patent for Invention No. 2200991, 2003. Available at https://www.freepatent.ru/patents/2200991 (accessed Sep. 25, 2021) (in Russian).
  3. Smykov V.B., Bagdasarov Yu.E., Belinsky V.S., Kryutchkov E.A., Kononyuk M.H. Research in Justification of the SPO Technology to Transfer Radioactive Waste from Alkaline Liquid Metal Coolants of the BR-10 Reactor to a Safe State. Proc. of the IV-th Russian Conference on Radiochemistry «Radiochemistry-2003», October 20-25, 2003. Ozersk. PO MAYaK Publ., 2003, pp. 185-186 (in Russian).
  4. Smykov V.B., Kryutchkov E.A., Bagdasarov Yu.E., Kononyuk M.H., Belinsky V.S., Pronin A.A., Sokol P.I., Zhurin A.V. Conditioning of Radioactive Waste from Alkaline Coolants of the Research Reactor BR-10. Bezopasnost’ Yadernykh Tekhnologij i Okrhuzhayuschey Sredy. 2011, no. 3, pp. 105-109 (in Russian).
  5. Blynskiy A., Dooley K., Farabee A., Fletcher B., Grandjean J., Grenouillet J., Jones J., Ljubenov V., Negin C., Smykov V., O’Sullivan P.-J., Szilagyi A. IAEA-TECDOC-1769. Treatment of Residual Sodium and Sodium-Potassium from Fast Reactors. Review of Recent Accomplishments, Challenges and Technologies. IAEA, Vienna, 2015. Available at: https://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/Publications/PDF/TE-1769_web.pdf (accessed Sep. 25, 2021).
  6. Smykov V., Butov K., Zhurin A., Komarov Eu. Research Reactor BR-10 – Testing Ground for Conditioning of Alkaline Liquid-Metal Coolants Under Dеcommissioning. Proc. of the Intern. Conf. IAEA on «Advancing the Global Implementation of Decommissioning and Environmental Remediation Programmes» (IAEA-CN-238), 23-27 May 2016, Madrid, Spain.
  7. Kanukhina S.V., Kononyuk M.H., Butov K.A., Smykov V.B. Computational and Experimental Studies of the Method of Alkali Metals Solid-Phase Oxidation by Copper Smelting Slag. Atomic Energy. 2016, v. 120, iss. 6, pp. 403-411; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10512-016-0149-0 .
  8. Smykov V.B., Yermolaev N.P., Saratova I.A., Orlova T.A. Experimental Testing of the Technology of Using N2O to Neutralize Na and Na-K Alloy Residues. Proc. of the IV-th Russian Conference on Radiochemistry «Radiochemistry-2003», October 20-25, 2003. Ozersk. PO MAYaK Publ., 2003, p. 188. (in Russian).
  9. Smykov V.B., Lukianov А.A., Kryutchkov E.A. Development of the New Technology for Cleaning the Equipment of Fast Reactors from Nondrainable Sodium Residues by Way of their Neutralization by Dinitrogen Oxide. Proc. of the XVIII Mendeleev Congress on General and Applied Chemistry, 23-28 Sept. 2007. Moscow, IGIC RAS. Moscow. RAS Publ., 2007, p. 2541 (in Rusian), 2462 (in English).
  10. Smykov V.B., Bagdasarov Yu.E., Kryutchkov E.A., Belinsky V.S. Development of Technology of Neutralization of Sodium Residues by Gaseous Dinitrogen Oxide in Cold Trap of the BR-10 Research Reactor on LUIZA Test Facility. Decommissioning of Fast Reactors after Sodium Draining. IAEA-TECDOC-1633. Vienna, 2009, pp. 9-14.
  11. Karabash A.G., Bogdanovich N.G., Kopylov V.S., Yemelianov V.P. Liquid Metal Chromatography – a Sorption Filtration Method for Purification of Molten Metals and Concentrating Impurities. Proc. of the Intersectoral Conference «Using of Liquid Metals in the National Economy» (Teplofizika-91). Obninsk. FEI Publ., 1993, pp. 118-120 (in Russian).
  12. Smykov V., Butov K., Kochetkov L., Poplavko V., Zhurin A. Decommissioning of SSC RF-IPPE Facilities Posing Nuclear and Radiation Danger: Current Status and Challenges. «Decommissioning Challenges: An Industrial Reality and Prospects», Avignon, April 7-11, 2013, France.

spent alkaline liquid metal coolant BR-10 RR technologies for processing of alkaline liquid metal coolant solid-phase oxidation MAGMA-SPO module gas-phase neutralization LUIZA-RW module liquid metal chromatography magnesium sorbent GETTER module

Link for citing the article: Smykov V.B. Problems of Decommissioning Fast Reactors and Ways of their Solution on the Basis of the BR-10 Research Reactor. Izvestiya vuzov. Yadernaya Energetika. 2022, no. 2, pp. 90-102; DOI: https://doi.org/10.26583/npe.2022.2.09 (in Russian).