Chinese fast reactor starts supplying electricity

21 July 2011

Exactly one year after achieving first criticality, China's experimental fast neutron reactor has been connected to the electricity grid.


At 10.00am today, the head of China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), Sun Qin, declared to workers and officials gathered in the Chinese Experimental Fast Reactor's (CEFR's) control room that the unit had successfully achieved grid connection.


CEFR control room (CNNC)
Inside the control room of the CEFR (Image: CNNC)


The sodium-cooled, pool-type fast reactor has been constructed with some Russian assistance at the China Institute of Atomic Energy (CIEA), near Beijing, which undertakes fundamental research on nuclear science and technology. The reactor has a thermal capacity of 65 MW and can produce 20 MW in electrical power. The CEFR was built by Russia's OKBM Afrikantov in collaboration with OKB Gidropress, NIKIET and Kurchatov Institute.


Xu Mi, chief engineer at the CEFR program at CIEA, told Bloomberg that the unit was connected to the grid at 40% capacity. "The next step for us is to increase the generating capacity of the reactor to 100% while connected to the grid," he said. "After that, we can use the technology to build our own commercial fast reactors."


Beyond the pilot plant, China once planned a 600 MWe commercial scale version by 2020 and a 1500 MWe version in 2030 but these ambitious ideas have been overtaken by the import of ready-developed Russian designs. In October 2009, an agreement was signed by CIAE and China Nuclear Energy Industry Corporation (CNEIC) with AtomStroyExport to start pre-project and design works for a commercial nuclear power plant with two BN-800 reactors with construction to start in August 2011, probably at a coastal site. The project is expected to lead to bilateral cooperation of fuel cycles for fast reactors, which promise to vastly extend the fuel value of uranium as well as reduce radioactive wastes.


In April 2010, a joint venture company was established for the construction of China's first commercial-scale fast neutron reactor, near the inland city of Sanming in Fujian province. The joint venture - Sanming Nuclear Power Co Ltd - was established by CNNC, Fujian Investment and Development Corp and the municipal government of Sanming city. CNNC holds a majority stake in the venture.


Researched and written

by World Nuclear News