CGN-developed fuel begins irradiation tests

18 February 2016

China General Nuclear (CGN) has loaded self-developed fuel assemblies and tube assemblies into unit 1 of the Ling Ao nuclear power plant in Guangdong province for irradiation tests.

Fuel irradiation tests at Ling Ao - 460 (CGN)
The fuel assemblies are loaded into Ling Ao 1 (Image: CGN)

The company announced yesterday that four STEP-12 fuel assemblies and four CZ zirconium alloy tube assemblies were loaded into the reactor on 14 February.

Following the design and manufacture of a new type of nuclear fuel assembly, the fuel must undergo irradiation tests in a reactor to validate its overall performance. These tests verify the irradiation, corrosion and mechanical properties of the assembly.

CGN said that once the components have been irradiated in the Ling Ao reactor, a comprehensive physical examination, including visual inspection and measurement of the thickness of the oxide film on the cladding. The results will be used to understand the components' radiation performance and to optimize the fuel assembly design, it said.

The company said the STEP-12 fuel assembly and CZ zirconium alloy could be used in its existing fleet of second-generation CPR1000 reactors, as well as in developing fuel for its third-generation Hualong One reactor design.

Last month, China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) announced that its own prototype fuel assembly for use in the Hualong One reactor design had completed the first fuel cycle irradiation test. That China Fuel 3 (CF3) fuel assembly was irradiated in unit 2 of CNNC's Qinshan nuclear power plant in China's Zhejiang province.

In 2012, central planners in Beijing directed CNNC and CGN, to 'rationalise' their reactor programs. This meant CNNC's ACP1000 and CGN's ACPR1000 were 'merged' into one standardised design - the Hualong One.

Construction of two Hualong One units is already under way at CNNC's Fuqing plant in Fujian province, as well as the first of two such units at CGN's Fangchenggang plant in Guangxi province.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News