Chinese HTGR fuel plant under construction

21 March 2013

Construction has started on a pilot production line for fuel elements for the Shidaowan HTR-PM project - a demonstration high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR) in China's Shandong province.

A signing and groundbreaking ceremony was held at Northern Nuclear Fuel Element Co Ltd's facility in Baotou in Inner Mongolia on 16 March.

HTGR demo fuel production line groundbreaking
Laying the foundation stone for the pilot HTGR fuel plant (Image: Tsinghua University)

The participants in the project - including China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), Tsinghua University, China Huaneng Group, China Nuclear Power Engineering Co and Nuclear Huaxing Construction Co - signed a cooperation agreement for the provision of technical services, construction engineering, installation and supervision for the HTGR fuel manufacturing line project.

A groundbreaking ceremony was then held to mark the laying of the foundation stone for the fuel facility. Representatives of organizations involved in the project as well as local dignitaries took part.

Graphite spheres

In March 2011, a contract was signed with Germany's SGL Group for the supply of 500,000 machined graphite spheres for HTR-PM fuel by the end of 2013.

A technical support agreement was signed by Zhang Zuoyi, dean of the Institute for Nuclear and New Energy Technology (INET) at Tsinghua University and Wen-Jun Ma, general manager of Northern Nuclear Fuel Element. Over the past 30 years, INET has conducted research on HTGR fuel element technology and developed a trial production line with an annual capacity of 100,000 spherical fuel elements.

The new pilot production line, based on this production technology, will have an annual capacity of 300,000 fuel elements. The National Nuclear Security Administration issued a permit for its construction last month. It is expected to be commissioned in August 2015.

The fuel produced by the pilot plant will be used by the demonstration high-temperature gas-cooled reactor plant being built at Shidaowan, near Weihai city in Shandong province. This will initially comprise twin HTR-PM reactor modules driving a single 210 MWe steam turbine. Construction started in late 2012, with commercial operation scheduled in 2015. A further 18 such HTR-PM units are proposed at Shidaowan.

China Huaneng Group, one of China's major generators, is the lead organization involved in the demonstration HTR-PM plant with a 47.5% share; China Nuclear Engineering & Construction (CNEC) will have a 32.5% stake and Tsinghua University's INET 20% – it being the main R&D contributor.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News