|Brazil to Start Enriching Uranium at Resende|
NPSGlobal, update 11 Jul 2011.
The Brazilian newspaper O Estado de Sao Paulo, informed yesterday that Brazil is about to close its nuclear fuel cycle, without external intervention. It pushes forward the country's uranium enrichment program . The article also comments the advances of the submarine project called ProSub.
Both projects are on the Brazilian Navy's hands.
The completion of the construction stage of the Usexa plant was announced by the newspaper as a milestone which allow Brazil dominate the entire nuclear fuel cycle. The facility, designed to convert natural uranium concentrate, yellow cake, to uranium hexafluoride is located in the Navy's Aramar Center of Iperó, Sao Paulo State. More details can be found in the article below.
With the plant working, Brazil will be able to process the uranium concentrate at a domestic facility and therefore will avoid sending it to Canada for UF6 conversion. The Usexa project had to be completed at the end of 2010, and it should have entered in operation three months later, but it suffered difficulties with suppliers and delays. Finally, in the next weeks the facility will receive it first batch of yellow cake to be processed, and in September new sensitive elements such as uranium nitrate and fluoride acid.
Testing will take around 150 days, and Admiral Júlio Moura Neto, the Navy's Commander, stated that the plant will be in full operation by 2012. Usexa will produce 40 metric tons of uranium hexafluoride that will feed the enrichment plants.
O Estado de Sao Paulo points that such volume is enough to meet the Brazilian Defense's needs. the Technological Center is also devoted to produce ultra-centrifugues able to separate the uranium 235 from natural uranium. Uranium enrichment is limited to 5% and 20% on the other line.
The nuclear submarine project is advancing as well. The research and development center was reactivated by former president Lula da Silva, and it monthly receives 130 million reais (83 million dollars).
By 2016 technicians will start a long integration between the reactor and nuclear submarine's hull. The vessel with 100 meters length will displace 4,100 metric tons. It is expected to enter into operation by 2022. The cost of the reactor was 130 million dollars, it is partially completed at the Aramar Center.
The consortium appointed by the Navy to carry out the project is composed by the Brazilian Odebrecht Defesa and the French DCNS. The Navy command retains the golden share for key decisions.
The French group will transfer conventional submarine technology. At this first stage, the deal will involve 4 units with diesel-electric engines and the nuclear submarine's hull. The value of this stage is 1,800 billion reais (1,152 billion dollars) and it includes a sophisticated shipyard and a naval base. The first conventional submarine, a Scorpene is expected to be completed by the second half 2016. The value of the whole project estimated in 6,700 billions reais (4,200 billion dollars).
The ProSub, official name of the project, was considered, according to the Estado de Sao Paulo, a strategic factor for Brazilian national defense. The area of interest in the sea, which requires to be protected, is estimated as equivalent to the size of Western Europe, about 4,5 millions square kilometers. Such area is considered as very rich in natural resources such as strategic metals and oil.
World nuclear news, 23 Jan 2009.
Industrias Nucleares do Brasil (INB) has been issued a temporary licence by the Brazilian Nuclear Energy Commission (CNEN) to start enriching uranium on an industrial scale at its Resende plant.
INB has held an environmental licence to enrich uranium since November 2006, but the plant's operating permit, which is valid for one year, has been now been amended by the CNEN. Production of enriched uranium is expected to begin in February, with some 12 tonnes of enriched uranium expected to be produced by the end of 2009.