Fuel loading starts at first Hualong One reactor

04 September 2020

The process of loading of the 177 fuel assemblies into the core of unit 5 at China's Fuqing nuclear power plant has begun, China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) announced. The unit - the first of two demonstration Hualong One reactors at the site in Fujian province - is scheduled to begin operating by the end of this year.

Fuel loading operations get under way at Fuqing 5 (Image: CNNC)

The first fuel assembly was loaded into the reactor's core at 3.30pm today, just after the issuance of the unit's operating licence by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment.

CNNC said the Hualong One's core design reduces the core power density and improves the design safety level. "In order to ensure the smooth progress of the first nuclear fuel loading of the world's first Hualong One reactor, the construction team fully considered the difference in the layout and quantity of the core fuel components of the reactor, carried out the first batch of loading exercises, optimised the loading sequence, and ensured that the first reactor was installed," it said.

With the successful installation of the first group of fuel assemblies, the unit has entered the nuclear commissioning stage of the main system and is ready for completion, it added.

China's State Council gave final approval for construction of Fuqing units 5 and 6 in April 2015. The pouring of first concrete for Fuqing 5 began in May that year, marking the official start of construction of the unit. Construction of unit 6 began in December the same year. The inner dome of unit 5 was installed on the containment building in May 2017, with the outer dome installed in January 2018.

Hot testing at Fuqing 5 was completed on 2 March. These tests involved increasing the temperature of the reactor coolant system and carrying out comprehensive tests to ensure that coolant circuits and safety systems are operating as they should. Such testing simulates the thermal working conditions of the power plant and verifies that nuclear island and conventional equipment and systems meet design requirements.

Fuqing 5 and 6 are scheduled to be completed this year and next.

Construction of two demonstration Hualong One (HPR1000) units is also under way at China General Nuclear's Fangchenggang plant in the Guangxi Autonomous Region. Those units are also expected to start up in 2022. CNNC has also started construction of two Hualong units at the Zhangzhou plant in Fujian province, plus the first of two units at Taipingling in Guangdong.

Two HPR1000 units are under construction at Pakistan's Karachi nuclear power plant. Construction began on Karachi unit 2 in 2015 and unit 3 in 2016; the units are planned to enter commercial operation in 2021 and 2022.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News