Pre-operational testing completed at Flamanville EPR

18 February 2020

Workers yesterday completed hot tests at the EPR under construction as unit 3 of the Flamanville nuclear power plant in France. The tests - which began on 21 September last year - aim to simulate the temperatures and pressures which the reactor's systems will be subjected to during normal operation.

Workers in Flamanville 3's control room during hot tests last month (Image: EDF)

Hot testing ensures coolant circuits and nuclear safety systems are functioning properly before fuel can be loaded. Many operations were carried out at Flamanville 3 for the first time during these tests. Normal operating conditions were achieved, with water in the primary circuit being at a temperature of 303ºC and a pressure of 154 bars. Cooling of the primary circuit using the secondary circuit was also achieved, as well as commissioning of the steam generators. Power outage tests were also carried out. Earlier this month, the turbine of Flamanville 3 was operated for the first time at nominal speed - 1500 revolutions per minute.

"It has been more than 20 years since we had carried out hot tests on a [nuclear] power plant starting up in France," said Sébastien Bachère, director of commissioning at the Flamanville 3. "This is a defining step for the EPR project. With more than 1000 tests carried out, 10,000 design criteria tested and a compliance rate of more than 95%, we can be satisfied with the results of these tests."

Construction of the Flamanville EPR began in December 2007, with commercial operation originally expected in 2013. The loading of fuel into the reactor's core is now scheduled for the end of 2022.

"Thanks to the hot tests, the operation of the nuclear reactor has been tested, including in many incidental or accidental situations, to verify the proper functioning of the installations in the most restrictive configurations possible," EDF said. "This sequence also made it possible to verify the team's ability to operate the reactor safely."

In December 2018, unit 1 of the Taishan plant in China's Guangdong province became the first EPR to enter commercial operation. Taishan 2 began commercial operation in September 2019. Olkiluoto 3 in Finland, the first-of-a-kind EPR, has completed hot functional tests and is preparing to load fuel. Two EPR units are also under construction at the Hinkley Point C project in Somerset, UK.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News