Chinese AP1000 fuel line moves to production

23 May 2016

Construction has been completed of China's first production line for the manufacture of fuel for AP1000 reactors. The new production line is to make two sets of dummy assemblies ahead of full production.  

Westinghouse is providing the first cores and some re-loads for the four AP1000s nearing completion at Sanmen and Haiyang. However, China's goal of self-sufficiency in nuclear fuel supply means it wants to manufacture as much as possible in future.

In a $35 million deal announced in January 2011, Westinghouse agreed to "design, manufacture and install fuel fabrication equipment" for China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) subsidiary China North Nuclear Fuel, with the aim of supplying subsequent fuel for the Sanmen and Haiyang units as well as the country's future fleet of AP1000s.

Construction of the AP1000 fuel line at the Baotou fuel fabrication facility in Inner Mongolia began in March 2012. China's National Nuclear Safety Administration gave permission in March this year for uranium to be fed into the production line.

CNNC said the new fuel production line - which has the capacity to produce 400 tonnes per year - has now moved from the construction phase to the production phase. Ahead of full production, two sets of dummy fuel assemblies will be made to verify the production process and it will take between three and four weeks to produce each of them, CNNC said.

Sanmen unit 1 in Zhejiang province is expected to be the first AP1000 to begin operating, in September, while Haiyang 1 in Shandong province is expected to start up by the end of the year. All four Chinese AP1000s are scheduled to be in operation by the end of 2017.

The Baotou plant already makes fuel for the Candu pressurized heavy water reactors at Qinshan Phase III. Reactor vendor Areva will be providing the first two cores and 17 reloads for the EPR reactors it is building at Taishan.

Earlier this year, the Baotou plant produced a prototype fuel assembly for China's CAP1400 pressurized water reactor design. That fuel's performance is now being verified. In March, a pilot production line for fuel elements for China's Shidaowan HTR-PM - a high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR) demonstration project - started at Baotou.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News