A joint venture company has been officially established for the construction of China's first commercial-scale fast neutron reactor, near Sanming city in Fujian province.
The joint venture - Sanming Nuclear Power Co Ltd - was established by China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC), Fujian Investment and Development Corp and the municipal government of Sanming city. CNNC holds a majority stake in the venture. A ceremony, attended by company officials and local dignitaries, was held on 28 April to mark the joint venture's inauguration.
The joint venture is officially launched (Image: CNNC)
According to a statement from CNNC, a site survey at Sanming was completed in 2007, while a preliminary feasibility study was completed in 2008. Proposals were submitted in 2009 to build a demonstration fast reactor at Sanming in cooperation with Russia. A comprehensive feasibility study into the construction of the Sanming fast reactor was launched on 23 April during the first general meeting of the project partners.
In October 2009, a high-level agreement was signed for Russia to start pre-project and design works for two commercial 800 MWe fast neutron reactors in China, with construction due to start in August 2011. The agreement, signed with Russia's AtomStroyExport by the China Institute of Atomic Energy (CIAE) and the Chinese Nuclear Energy Industry Company (CNEIC) - a CNNC subsidiary responsible for technology imports - followed a call a year earlier by the Russian-Chinese Nuclear Cooperation Commission for construction of a demonstration fast reactor similar to the BN-800 unit being built at Beloyarsk in Russia and due to start up in 2012. Earlier in 2009, St Petersburg Atomenergopoekt said it was starting design work on a BN-800 reactor for China, with two proposed at coastal sites. The project is expected to lead to bilateral cooperation on fuel cycles for fast reactors.
Russia and China are already cooperating on one fast reactor, a small 65 MWt sodium-cooled unit known as the Chinese Experimental Fast Reactor at the China Institute of Atomic Energy near Beijing. OKBM Afrikantov is leading a Russian collaboration to build the unit, which is nearing completion.
Commercial-scale fast reactors based on it were envisaged but these may now give way to the Russian BN-800 project, which would be the first time commercial-scale fast neutron reactors have ever been exported. While thermal-spectrum nuclear reactors are the mainstay of atomic energy at the moment, by about 2040 future fuel cycles based on fast-spectrum reactors could extend uranium supplies for many centuries. While several leading nuclear nations have developed prototypes with varying levels of success, only Russia is currently committed to their commercial use.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News