Fuel loading completed at Hongyanhe 6

28 March 2022

The process of loading the 157 fuel assemblies into the core of unit 6 of the Hongyanhe plant in Liaoning province has been completed, China General Nuclear (CGN) announced. The unit - the second of two ACPR-1000 reactors built as Phase II of the plant - is scheduled to begin operations later this year.

The six-unit Hongyanhe site (Image: CGN)

The loading of the fuel began on 25 March and was completed on 28 March. CGN said the process was carried out under the supervision and approval of the Northeast Nuclear and Radiation Safety Supervision Station of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment. The National Nuclear Safety Administration conducted a comprehensive inspection of Hongyanhe 6 between 14 and 18 February prior to the issuance of an operating licence.

"The completion of the first fuel loading marks that the unit has officially entered the stage of nuclear commissioning of the main system, and has taken an important step towards completion and production," the company said.

CGN said that now fuel loading had been completed, it will "carry out important tasks" such as draining the reactor pool, closing the lid of the reactor pressure vessel, filling the primary circuit with water, raising the pressure and temperature, attaining criticality, connecting to the grid, and increasing the power. At each power level in the startup phase, transient tests will be performed to "verify and modify the optimisation of various parameters to ensure that the equipment status of the unit after commercial operation meets the requirements of technical specifications."

Construction of Phase I (units 1-4) of the plant, comprising four CPR-1000 pressurised water reactors, began in August 2009. Units 1 and 2 have been in commercial operation since June 2013 and May 2014, respectively, while unit 3 entered commercial operation in August 2015 and unit 4 in September 2016.

Phase II of the Hongyanhe plant - units 5 and 6 - comprises two 1080 MWe CGN-designed ACPR-1000 reactors. Construction of unit 5 began in March 2015 and that of unit 6 started in July the same year. Unit 5 achieved first criticality in June last year and entered commercial operation on 31 July. Unit 6 is scheduled to start operating during the first half of 2022.

The Hongyanhe plant is owned and operated by Liaoning Hongyanhe Nuclear Power Company, a joint venture between CGN and State Power Investment Corporation, each holding a 45% stake, with the Dalian Municipal Construction Investment Co holding the remaining 10%.

The ACPR-1000 - a three-loop unit with double containment and core-catcher - was launched by CGN in November 2011. In 2012 central planners in Beijing directed CNNC and CGN, to 'rationalise' their reactor programmes. This meant CNNC's ACP1000 and CGN's ACPR-1000 were 'merged' into one standardised design - the Hualong One (HPR1000). Yangjiang units 5 and 6 were the first ACPR-1000 units to enter commercial operation, in July 2018 and July 2019, respectively. Units 5 and 6 of the Tianwan plant, also ACPR-1000s, entered commercial operation in September 2020 and June 2021, respectively.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News