Ribbon cut on zirconium sponge plant

11 June 2012

Westinghouse and its Chinese joint venture partner the State Baoti Zirconium Industry Ltd (SNZ) have started commissioning a new zirconium sponge production facility in Nantong, China.

The State Nuclear WEC Zirconium Hafnium Co Ltd plant - SNZWH for short - is the fruition of a joint venture established by the two companies in April 2009. It will produce the nuclear-grade zirconium used to manufacture tubes for nuclear fuel assemblies, supplying both the Chinese market through SNWHZ shareholders and the global market through Westinghouse.

Commercial-grade zirconium usually contains up to 3% hafnium but this must be removed for nuclear energy uses. Zirconium sponge is the high purity product of the removal of hafnium by pyrometallurgical processing, which can then be used in tube manufacture.

Westinghouse chairman and interim president and CEO Shigenori Shiga noted that the commissioning of the sponge plant further extended the company's services to the Chinese market, where it is building four AP1000 reactors for SNZ's owner, the State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation (SNPTC).

The ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the startup of the facility was attended by senior officers and dignitaries from Westinghouse, Toshiba, SNPTC, the China Nuclear Power Association and the province of Jiangsu.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News