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English - Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant: Construction

Choice of a site: According to USSR Council of Ministers Decree, dated 29.06.66 in 1966-1977 it was planned to commission power capacities at a rate of 11.9 mln kwt, including with RBMK reactors - 8 mln kwt. One of Nuclear Power Plant should compensate deficiency of the electric power in the Central Energy Area - the largest in Integrated South Energy Grid (ISEG). With the purpose of an optimum variant choice for Nuclear Power Plant construction Kiev branch of a project institute 'Teploelectroproject" during 1965-1966 investigated 16 localities in Kiev, Vinnitsa and Zhitomir regions. Based on results of investigations the USSR State Planning Committee recommended for Nuclear Power Plant construction a site near Kopachy village in Kiev region. To the future plant it was given the name Chernobyl. The first information on Chernobyl we find in Ipatiyev chronicle.
Choice of reactor type: Conceptual Design development for Chernobyl NPP construction with capacity 2000 mwt has been entrusted to the Ural branch of “Teploelectroproject” institute. Conceptual design approved by USSR Energy Ministry 29.09.67, has been developed in three options: - with application of RBMK-1000 reactor; - with gas- graphite reactor RK-1000 application; - with PWR-1000 reactor application. According to the detailed design technical and economic parameters of the first option were the lowest, but a status of developments and an equipment deliveries possibility were most expedient.

Application of RBMK-1000 reactors was determined by joint Decision of USSR Energy Ministry and USSR Machine-Building Ministry dated 19.06.69 and approved by USSR Council of Ministers, dated 14.12.70. According to the Decree of USSR Energy Ministry dated 30.03.70 the further designing of the Chernobyl NPP was entrusted to institute "Hydroproject ". Project Development for reactor block of ChNPP first-stage, including working design, was executed by Institute of Energy Technologies (VNDPIET) USSR Machine-Building Ministry as the Subcontractor. Unit with RBMK -1000 reactor with power capacity 1000 mwt - a heterogeneous channel reactor on thermal neutrons in which graphite is used as moderator and water - as the coolant has been accepted as basic for Chernobyl NPP.

Chernobyl NPP was the third plant with RBMK -1000 type reactors after Leningrad and Kursk NPPs, commissioned in 1973 and 1976.

Fundamental feature of a channel reactors design was absence of the special durable containment, peculiar to PWR type reactors, constructed in USSR and widely used in other countries. Serial manufacturing of unique high-strength big dimensional containments was restrained at that time by necessary capacities absence. In these conditions channel reactors construction assured fast development of nuclear engineering as for their construction reactor containments were not required. Such energy installations, moreover, gave possibility to achieve high capacity of one unit - 1000, and then - 1500 mwt. Last circumstance is important as the maximal capacity of PWR type reactors was determined, first of all, by the dimensions of containment, capable to withstand high pressure and, at the same time, allowing its rail transportation. Prepared to realization in that period designs of PWR reactors have been limited by power units capacities - 440 mwt, and only by 1980 power of such units was increased up to 1000 mwt.
Besides on RBMK reactors it is possible to reload nuclear fuel ('in running order'), that allows to increase its capacity factor. Reactor core of RBMK-1000 represents a cylindrical graphite stack with a diameter 11,8 m and height 7 m penetrated by 1661 vertical channel with diameter 80 mm of zirconium alloy. Inside channels there are reactor control organs and fuel assembly (FA) containing 18 rod fuel elements (FE) of uranium dioxide in an encasement of zirconium alloy. Water incoming from below in a reactor passes in channels with FA and it is heated up to boiling. Generated steam after separation comes directly on the turbine, and then in the condenser, after that with pumps using the condensate comes back into reactor. Such scheme is called single-circuit and is typical for reactors with the boiling heat-transfer. Feature of channel reactors is that the water supply and steam-and-water mixture removal is carried out for each channel separately. In RBMK-1000 reactor these channels are grouped in two contours independent from each other, each of them covers half of reactor.
Stages of a construction: Kurchatov Institute of Nuclear Energy has been appointed the Supervisor of RBMK-1000 project, and Research and Design Institute of Energy Technology (NIKIET) of USSR Machine-Building Ministry - the General Designer
May, 28, 1969 Resolution of SU Central Committee of CP and USSR Council of Ministers on financial estimates approval for construction of Chernobyl NPP top-priority facilities Chernobyl NPP.
December, 17, 1969 Decree of USSR Energy and Electrification Minister on Chernobyl Directorate establishment on January, 1, 1970.

Preparation of a foundation ditch for 1-st Unit started in May, 1970.
In July, 1971 construction of power line on 110 kwt s/s Chernobyl was finished.
On December, 7, 1971 Permanent Acceptance Commission on Chernobyl SRPP’s facilities was established.

From the beginning of construction slow pace threatened terms of 1-st power unit commissioning in 1975 on April, 14, 1972 Resolution of Central Committee CP of Ukraine and USSR Council of Ministers "On Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant construction" was issued. In Resolution it was stated, that construction management of "Kremenchuggesstroy" of the USSR Energy and Electrification Ministry slowly deployed Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant construction. The plan of works wasn’t implemented. Civil and erection works were carried out at a low engineering level, there were big losses of builder’s labour hours, the building technical equipment was not adequately used. Directorate of Nuclear Power Plant issued necessary constructional design estimates with delays and incompletely. The problem on a reserve electrosupply source for construction was not solved during long time.
On August, 15, 1972 the first cubic meter of concrete was laid in the foundation of the main building.
On January, 30, 1973. Decision of USSR Energy Ministry "On ChNPP Unit 1 commissioning in 1975" was approved
On April, 30, 1975 First Secretary of Central Committee CPU V.V. Scherbitskiy addressed to Chairman of USSR Council of Ministers A.M.Kosygin with the request to solve the problem on providing constructed ChNPP with the equipment. ChNPP’s personnel these difficult time bended a maximum effort to governmental terms assurance.
On May, 16, 1975 Commission on preparation and commissioning of ChNPP’s Unit 1 was established by Decree of ChNPP Director. Builders, assemblers and operational personnel with self-sacrificing efforts assured Unit 1 commissioning. Round-the-clock work on the critical paths of Unit commissioning schedule has been organized.
From the beginning of October, 1975 first fuel assembly (FA) began to come in fresh fuel storage.
On May, 15, 1976 according to the Preliminary Design requirement and SES the permanent radiation control in areas adjacent to the nuclear power plant was established.
In October, 1976 cooling – pond filling started.
In the beginning of May, 1977 the assemblers, builders, servicemen and operational personnel of ChNPP begun precommissioning works at Unit 1.
Since June, 8, 1977, restricted zone (RZ) was organized in connection with the beginning of works on fuel assembly
On August, 1, 1977 the first fuel assembly was loaded.
On August, 14 full-scale fuel loading was completed. For the first time fuel loading and the main experiments under the physical commissioning program was carried out 25 day ahead of expected term.
On September, 18, 1977 Reactor capacity rise began.
On September, 26 the turbogenerator ¹ 2 was included in a grid.
On November, 2 turbogenerator ¹ 1 was included in a grid. Development of capacities was carried out according to the integrated schedule approved by the commissioning committee.
On May, 24, 1978 Unit 1achieved capacity 1000 mwt, that was occurred 2 months ahead of the planned term.
On November, 16, 1978 . Physical commissioning of Unit 2 began.

On December, 19, 1978 Rise of Unit 2 reactor capacity began
On December, 21, 1978 the turbogenerator ¹ 3 was included in a grid.
On January, 10, 1979 turbogenerator ¹ 4 generated the industrial current. The ChNPP Unit 2 was commissioned.
On April, 22, 1979. Chernobyl NPP has generated first ten billions kwt/h.
On May, 28, 1979 Unit 2 achieved a designed capacity 1000 mwt, which have been developed during 5 months.
On October, 5, 1979 I stage of Chernobyl NPP achieved power rating 2 million kwt. It was spent 8 months on ChNPP Unit 1 development and 5 months on Unit 2 development.
On October, 21, 1980 electric main was energized - 750 kwt.
On December, 3, 1981 Unit 3 was commissioned.
On March, 8, 1982 ChNPP generated 50 billion kwt.
On June, 9, 1982 at Unit 3 it was achieved the designed capacity 1000 mwt 3 months ahead of the planned term.
On November, 25, 1983 1-st FA was loaded in the Unit 4 reactor.
On December, 21, 1983 the turbogenerator ¹ 7 was included in a grid.
On December, 30, 1983 the turbogenerator ¹ 8 was included in a grid.
On March, 28, 1984. Unit 4 achieved a designed capacity 1000 mwt ahead of schedule on 3 months and 5 days.
On August, 21, 1984 Chernobyl NPP had generated 100 billion kwt/h of electric power.

19 сентября 2008
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