Helium fan produced for Chinese HTR-PM

19 August 2014

A prototype helium fan for use in China's HTR-PM high-temperature gas-cooled reactor has successfully completed testing. A demonstration plant based on twin HTR-PM units is currently under construction at Shidaowan, Shandong province.

HTR helium turbine 460 (Tsinghua University)
The helium fan in the test rig (Image: Tsinghua University)

The purpose of the helium fan can be compared to that of the main circulation pump in a pressurized water reactor: to provide sufficient flow of coolant during the reactor's start-up, operation and shut down to take away the heat generated by the reactor core. The HTR-PM features pebble bed fuel and helium coolant.

Shanghai Electric subsidiary Shanghai Blower Works began manufacturing the prototype fan in 2010. A test platform for the fan was completed last October. The following month, the rotor was assembled in the test platform for tests to begin.

On 16 July, the fan completed 100 hours of continuous operation at full power and at a temperature of 250°C. The tests confirmed that the turbine met the technical requirements for use in the demonstration HTR-PM project in Shidaowan.

Tsinghua University developed electromagnetic bearings for use in the helium fan. These bearings use magnets to 'levitate' the fan's rotor, which weighs some four tonnes. As the rotor operates without any contact with other parts, its operation is wear-free and there is no need for a lubricating oil system. The university said that this marks the first use of electromagnetic bearings in a nuclear reactor application.

Work began on two demonstration HTR-PM units at China Huaneng Group's Shidaowan site in December 2012. China Huaneng is the lead organization in the consortium to build the demonstration units together with China Nuclear Engineering Corporation (CNEC) and Tsinghua University's Institute of Nuclear and New Energy Technology (INET), which is the research and development leader. Chinergy, a joint venture of Tsinghua and CNEC, is the main contractor for the nuclear island.

The demonstration plant's twin HTR-PM units will drive a single 210 MWe turbine. It is expected to begin operating around 2017. Eighteen further units are proposed for the Shidaowan site, near Rongcheng in Weihai city.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News