Tianwan 3 attains first criticality

29 September 2017

Unit 3 of the Tianwan nuclear power plant in China's Jiangsu province today attained a sustained chain reaction for the first time. The Russian-supplied VVER-1000 is scheduled to enter commercial operation next year.

Tianwan unit 3 - 460 (CNNC)
Tianwan unit 3 (Image: CNNC)

Following approval to load fuel into the unit by China's National Nuclear Safety Administration on 9 August, the process to load a total of 163 fuel assemblies got under way on 18 August. This process was completed ahead of schedule, Russian state nuclear company Rosatom noted.

The start-up process began at 7.27pm on 27 September, China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) said, with the reactor achieving criticality at 1.51am today.

A series of critical tests will now be carried out at Tianwan 3, after which the unit will start producing power and grid connection tests will be carried out on the turbo-generators. Following that, a series of commissioning tests will be conducted at the unit, including a load test run and other relevant testing before entering full-power demonstration operation. The unit is expected to be connected to the grid by the end of this year, with commercial operation planned to begin next year.

Tianwan 3 and 4 are AES-91 VVER-1000 units designed by Gidropress and supplied by Rosatom. AtomStroyExport is the main contractor, supplying the nuclear island. First concrete for unit 3 was poured in December 2012, while construction of unit 4 began in September 2013. Two similar VVER-1000 reactors (units 1 and 2) began operating at the site in 2007.

Valery Limarenko, president of Russia's ASE Group, said: "Today has seen a key event in the construction of the second phase of the Tianwan plant. Tianwan unit 3 has been brought to the minimum controlled level of power, to be followed by the power start-up of the reactor."

He added, "This demonstrates that the first two units we constructed in cooperation with Chinese colleagues are being recognised as among the best in the country. At Tianwan, we introduced our state-of-the-art developments and technologies in the field of nuclear power and construction management. We hope that the second phase of the Tianwan plant will also serve the Chinese people effectively, thus strengthening cooperation between our countries."

The State Council gave its approval for the third phase of the Tianwan plant (units 5 and 6) - both featuring Chinese-designed 1080 MWe ACPR1000 reactors - on 16 December 2015. First safety-related concrete was poured for unit 5 later that month and for unit 6 in September 2016. Unit 5 is expected to enter commercial operation in December 2020 and unit 6 in October 2021.

The Tianwan plant is owned and operated by Jiangsu Nuclear Power Corporation, a joint venture between CNNC (50%), China Power Investment Corporation (30%) and Jiangsu Guoxin Group (20%).

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News