CNNC launches R&D centre for fuels and materials

03 December 2018

China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) held a ceremony on 27 November to mark the establishment of a new centre for nuclear fuels and materials research and development in Beijing.

The launch of the new R&D centre (Image: CNNC)

CNNC said the new Research Centre for Nuclear Fuels and Materials represents "an important milestone in the development and production of high-performance nuclear fuels and materials, as well as high-performance nuclear reactor cores to realise the effective and efficient development of nuclear energy".

Speaking at the ceremony, CNNC Chairman Yu Jianfeng said the founding of the new facility is a significant measure to implement the national innovation-driven development strategy and build an advanced nuclear science industrial system.

"Nuclear fuels and materials are fundamental to developing the nuclear industry," said Yu. "Only when a company takes the high ground in the area can it be as qualified as an advanced nuclear science industrial system and world-class nuclear firm able to compete at a global level."

He added, "The aim of CNNC's founding of the Research Centre for Nuclear Fuels and Materials is to build a platform to organise the overall planning for scientific innovations in the area of nuclear fuels and materials, so as to better push forward the transformation of scientific achievements and provide support for progressing the corporation's industrial technology."

China has stated it intends to become self-sufficient not just in nuclear power plant capacity, but also in the production of fuel for those plants. However, the country still relies to some extent on foreign suppliers for all stages of the fuel cycle, from uranium mining through fabrication and reprocessing, but mostly for uranium supply. As China rapidly increases the number of new reactors, it has also initiated a number of domestic projects, often in cooperation with foreign suppliers, to meet its nuclear fuel needs.

CNNC is responsible for fuel fabrication in China, utilising some technology transferred from Areva, Westinghouse and TVEL. Fuel fabrication plants are inland, in Sichuan and Inner Mongolia.

Two industrial parks for nuclear fuel are planned – a northern one in Hebei near Beijing, and one in the south, probably Guangdong province. They will each include uranium conversion, enrichment, and fabrication facilities to support China's goal to become the centre of Asian nuclear fuel preparation and manufacturing. Also, sales of Hualong reactors are envisaged as being with a supply of fuel. About CNY80 billion (USD12 billion) is being invested in the two parks.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News