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Cutting edge nuclear technology piloted in China

04/01/2018
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Construction has begun on one of the world’s first fourth generation fast nuclear reactors in China.

Located around 400km south of Shanghai the reactor- named the CFR-600- will be a 600MW demonstration unit and is expected to be completed by 2023. Should this demonstration model prove to be a success, a 1GW commercial reactor will be scheduled for construction around 2030.
Located around 400km south of Shanghai the reactor will be a 600MW demonstration unit.
(Construction of the CFR-600 in progress. Image via CNNC).

The demonstration reactor will have an output of 1500MW thermal power and 600MW electric power. The reactor will use mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel with 100 GWd/t burnup, and will feature two coolant loops producing steam at 480◦C. Later fuel will be metal with burnup of 100 – 120 GWd/t. The reactor will have active and passive shutdown systems and passive decay heat removal.

Improved nuclear tech

China is currently exploring various ‘fast nuclear’ options to provide their nuclear power needs, including such options as sodium-cooled reactors and ‘pebble-bed’ fuelled, helium-cooled reactors.

The key benefits of fast nuclear reactors, which use fast neutrons to split uranium atoms, is that they can be up to 60 times more fuel efficient than slow reactors, generate less radioactive waste and can be used in a ‘closed cycle’ system in which waste is reprocessed into new fuel.

Nuclear expansion

The construction of the demonstration fast nuclear reactor comes at a time when China is actively looking to massively expand its nuclear power production capacity. CNNC (China National Nuclear Corporation) expects fast nuclear reactors to become predominant by mid-2050.

The China Institute of Atomic Energy, which is responsible for the CFR-600 demonstration reactor expects nuclear output to increase from 40GW in 2015 to 400GW in 2050, at which point forecasts suggest nuclear will account for 16% of the country’s 2,500GW installed capacity.

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12 years experience on Nuclear powered Ballistic Vanguard Class Submarines
John ODonnell, 04 January 2018
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