China plans further high temperature reactor innovation

19 September 2017

China is moving rapidly towards using nuclear power as an industrial heat source and as a direct replacement for coal, Yulong Wu, CEO of Chinergy, told a side event at the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA's) General Conference today.

Five years into the HTR-PM program, technical tests of most innovative components and materials are complete, and on-site the reactor vessel and some non-fuel graphite spheres are loaded. The design sees two pebble-bed reactors cooled by helium produce 250 MWt MWt each and drive one steam turbine to produce 210 MWe net. It can be configured for varying ratios of electricity and heat.

Applications for HTR-PM include direct replacement of coal-fired power plants, while its heat could be used for desalination of seawater for human consumption, production of hydrogen, or a wide range of other high temperature heat applications in industry.

Decarbonising heating and cooling

In a subsequent session on innovation in nuclear and its contribution to meeting the Paris Agreement climate goals, Cecilia Tam of the International Energy Agency said that while many new technologies are decarbonising electricity, "There is not enough discussion of how heating and cooling can be decarbonised." She said, "Heating and cooling is about one-third of primary energy consumption and about 45% of final energy use. Greater innovation is going to be needed here."

At the construction site in Shidaowan, in Shandong province, the steam generators and reactor vessel are in final installation, said Wu. Outstanding work includes final testing of the steam generator which transfers heat from helium coolant to a water/steam loop. Wu said these should be complete by next April.

Opening the session, Mikhail Chudakov, IAEA deputy director general for nuclear energy, said: "The success of this project will establish a milestone for the nuclear industry. It will pave the way for others."

Beyond HTR-PM, China proposes a scaled-up version called HTR-PM600, which sees one large turbine rated at 650 MWe driven by some six HTR-PM reactor units.

Feasibility studies on HTR-PM600 deployment are underway for Sanmen, Zhejiang province, Ruijin, Jiangxi province, Xiapu and Wan'an, in Fujian province, and Bai'an, Guangdong province.

The reactor concept is a focus for cooperation between China and Saudi Arabia, which would like to use nuclear energy for electricity and production of drinking water through desalination. The countries signed a cooperation agreement in March under which China Nuclear Energy Engineering Group (CNEC) and the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KA-CARE) are to consider the development of system solutions for the investment and construction of high temperature reactors. They will also examine cooperation in intellectual property and the development of an industrial supply chain in Saudi Arabia. The feasibility study, it said, will also support the Saudi government in its decisions related to a potential high temperature reactor project.

CNEC said that since the signing of that MOU, the two countries have been looking at site selection for the project, building a regulatory system, and training personnel, among other things.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News