Barakah 4 completes hot functional tests

21 July 2022

Hot functional testing of the fourth and final unit at the Barakah nuclear power plant in the UAE has been completed, Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) announced. The Korean-designed APR-1400 reactor is scheduled to start operating next year.

Unit 4 of the Barakah plant (Image: ENEC)

Hot functional tests simulate the temperatures and pressures that the reactor systems will be subjected to during normal operation and are carried out before loading nuclear fuel. They involve increasing the temperature of the reactor coolant system and carrying out comprehensive tests to ensure that nuclear island and conventional equipment and systems meet design requirements.

"This significant pre-operational test represents an important step forward in the testing phase of unit 4 of the plant, located in the Al Dhafra region of Abu Dhabi Emirate, with all the lessons learned from the testing of the other units successfully incorporated," ENEC said.

"The results demonstrate that all systems perform in accordance with the highest quality and safety standards under normal operating conditions," the company added. "Most notably, the pressuriser safety valve test, pre-core reactor coolant system flow measurement test and main turbine system test were performed, proving that major components and systems work as designed and meet all requirements for normal operation."

Prior to conducting the hot functional tests, ENEC completed the structural integrity test and the integrated leak rate test at Barakah 4. "The successful completion of the tests demonstrates the integrity and robustness of the building structure in terms of force, and the structure's ability to perform safely under normal and extraordinary circumstances," it said.

"The successful completion of these tests on unit 4 of the Barakah plant showcases our continued progress in accordance with all national regulatory requirements and the highest international standards," said Mohamed Ibrahim Al Hammadi, ENEC's managing director and CEO. "We have incorporated the lessons learned during the development of each unit, increasing delivery efficiency while maintaining world-class levels of quality and safety. These tests are key steps forward towards demonstrating unit 4's readiness to operate and brings us a step closer to having four units online to provide abundant, clean and reliable electricity, advancing the UAE's clean energy transition and boosting energy security for the next 60 years."

Construction of the first of four Korean-designed APR-1400 units at Barakah began in 2012. Units 1 and 2 began commercial operation in April 2021 and March 2022, respectively. Fuel loading began at Barakah 3 in June this year following the receipt of the unit's operating licence. That unit is "due to come online in the coming months", ENEC said.

Once all four units are fully operational, the Barakah plant will produce up to 25% of the UAE's electricity needs and will prevent 22.4 million tonnes of carbon emissions every year.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News