Uranium enrichment capacity at TVEL's JSC Electrochemical Plant (ECP) in Zelenogorsk in Russia's Krasnoyarsk Region will be boosted by at least 50%, according to Sergey Kiriyenko, director general of Russian state nuclear energy company Rosatom.
The Electrochemical Plant (ECP) in Zelenogorsk (Image: TVEL)
Speaking to journalists during a visit to the plant on 3 June, Kiriyenko said that 5.5 billion roubles ($198 million) will be invested in the ECP plant in 2011. However, a long-term investment programme sees 45 billion to 65 billion roubles ($1.6 billion to $2.3 billion) being spent on modernizing and expanding the facility.
Yuri Olenin, president of fuel company TVEL, said that most of this investment would be spent on replacing the existing enrichment machines with a new generation of centrifuges, as well as upgrading the technological infrastructure of the business.
Kiriyenko was cited by Nuclear.Ru as saying that the plant's current enrichment capacity is some 8.7 million SWU (separative work units) per year. However, he added, "A minimum level we have to raise it to is 12 million SWU a year."
"We should not just retain contracts we have in the world market, but increase their number," Kiriyenko said. "This can only be done one way - by efficiency improvement - and we have political restraints removed as of today."
According to a statement from TVEL, the ECP plant is already has one of the highest capacity factors in the uranium enrichment industry. The plant's capacity factor is expected to reach 95% in 2011, it noted.
During his visit to the ECP plant, Kiriyenko highlighted the implementation of ECP's "New Look" programme, aimed at preserving competitiveness by increasing productivity, reducing costs and increasing employee salaries.
He also visited the W-ECP deconversion (defluorination) plant at the site, which enables depleted uranium to be stored long-term as uranium oxide, with hydrogen fluoride being produced as a by-product. Kiriyenko said that the capacity of the W-ECP plant, commissioned in December 2009, would be increased from 5000 tonnes per year to 10,000 tonnes per year in 2011.
In addition to low-enriched uranium used for nuclear power reactor fuel, ECP produces stable and radioactive isotopes of various chemical elements, process piping systems for industrial facilities, static frequency converters for special and general purpose, and several other high-tech goods.