ARKANSAS, Oct 7 (Future Headlines)- In a significant milestone for Egypt’s nuclear energy ambitions, officials from Egypt’s Nuclear Power Plants Authority (NPPA) and Russia’s Rosatom recently marked the installation of the core catcher in the first unit of the El Dabaa nuclear power plant. This 6.1-meter diameter core catcher serves as a critical component of the passive safety system for the VVER-1200 reactor, designed to securely contain molten core fragments in case of an emergency, preventing their release beyond the reactor building containment.

This achievement is notable as it marks the first large-scale nuclear power plant component to be installed at the El Dabaa construction site, located approximately 320 kilometers northwest of Cairo. The core catcher, which took 14 months to manufacture in Russia, was transported to Egypt in March for installation.

Amged El-Wakeel, Chairman of NPPA, officially initiated the installation of the core catcher and delivered a speech during the ceremony. He highlighted that construction at the El Dabaa site has been progressing steadily, with the first concrete poured for the first unit in July 2022, the second unit in November, and the third unit in May. Furthermore, the first concrete for the fourth unit is expected to be laid this year. El-Wakeel emphasized that this installation signifies the joint efforts of both Egyptian and Russian teams to adhere to the agreed-upon schedule, demonstrating patience, dedication, and hard work in overcoming challenges.

The El Dabaa nuclear power plant is a vital project for Egypt’s energy future, aimed at diversifying its energy sources and ensuring a reliable power supply. It comprises four VVER-1200 units, similar to those already in operation at nuclear power plants in Russia and Belarus, and is based on contracts that became effective in December 2017.

These contracts encompass a comprehensive partnership between Egypt and Russia in the nuclear energy sector. Under the agreements, Rosatom, Russia’s state nuclear corporation, not only undertakes the construction of the power plant but also commits to providing Russian nuclear fuel for the entire life cycle of the facility. This ensures a consistent and dependable fuel supply source.

Additionally, Rosatom is responsible for assisting Egyptian partners in training personnel and maintaining the plant during its initial ten years of operation. This transfer of knowledge and expertise is critical to ensuring the safe and efficient operation of the nuclear power plant.

Beyond the core aspects of the plant’s construction and operation, the contracts with Rosatom also involve the construction of a specialized storage facility and the supply of containers for the safe storage of used nuclear fuel. These components are essential for managing the nuclear waste generated during the plant’s operation, demonstrating a commitment to environmental responsibility.

The installation of the core catcher in the first unit of the El Dabaa nuclear power plant is a pivotal moment in the project’s timeline. This safety feature plays a crucial role in preventing and mitigating severe accidents, ensuring the well-being of both plant personnel and the surrounding environment.

The core catcher acts as the last line of defense in the unlikely event of a severe accident involving the reactor core. It is designed to trap and contain fragments of the molten core, preventing their release into the environment. This is achieved through passive safety mechanisms, which do not rely on active human intervention or power sources. The core catcher is an integral component of modern nuclear reactor designs, contributing to their enhanced safety.

The installation of this component also symbolizes the commitment of both Egypt and Russia to advancing the El Dabaa nuclear power plant project. It reflects their dedication to adhering to project timelines and overcoming any challenges that may arise during construction.

The El Dabaa nuclear power plant represents a significant step in Egypt’s pursuit of a diverse and sustainable energy mix. By introducing nuclear energy into its energy portfolio, Egypt aims to enhance its energy security, reduce dependence on fossil fuels, and contribute to the global effort to combat climate change.

Nuclear energy is known for its reliability, low greenhouse gas emissions, and capacity to provide a stable and consistent power supply. As Egypt’s energy demand continues to grow, particularly in light of its expanding population and economic development, nuclear power can play a crucial role in meeting this demand while reducing the country’s carbon footprint.

Furthermore, the successful implementation of the El Dabaa project will position Egypt as a regional leader in nuclear energy expertise and technology. It will provide valuable experience and knowledge transfer opportunities for the country’s workforce, contributing to its technological advancement.

Reporting by Alireza Sabet; Editing by Sarah White