Westinghouse in Chinese zirconium JV

22 April 2009

Westinghouse has held a suppliers day for AP1000 in the United Arab Emirates as well as agreeing a joint venture with a Chinese firm for zirconium sponge suitable for nuclear fuel.


A joint venture is to be formed between Westinghouse and China's State Nuclear Baoti Zirconium Industry Co Ltd (SNZ) to produce the nuclear-grade zirconium sponge, used in the fabrication of nuclear fuel.


The joint venture - which is expected to be completed in 2011 - will construct and operate a zirconium sponge plant in Nantong in China's Jiangsu province. The plant will start production in 2012 and will supply the Chinese market and Westinghouse's Western Zirconium Plant in Ogden, Utah.
The contracts to establish the joint venture were signed by representatives of Westinghouse and SNZ at a ceremony in Beijing on 3 April.


Westinghouse-SNZ (SNZ)

 The signing of the JV contracts (Image: SNZ)

SNZ was established specifically to introduce nuclear zirconium material manufacturing using Westinghouse technology. It is owned by the State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation (SNPTC) and Baoti Group, a leading titanium fabrication company in China.

SNZ has the capacity to produce 100 tonnes of nuclear zirconium tube annually. It is planned to produce up to 1000 tonnes of nuclear sponge, 500 tonnes of nuclear zirconium products and 500 tonnes of industrial zirconium material within three years. Plans call for the company to form a complete industrial chain, including nuclear sponge, zirconium alloy melting and processing and to be capable of developing new technology and products.
Middle Eastern suppliers sought
Meanwhile, Westinghouse and its consortium partner the Shaw Group have held a nuclear supplier conference in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which they said was the first to be held in the Middle East.
The event, in Abu Dhabi, was held to "identify potential suppliers for its AP1000 nuclear power plant global supply chain," Westinghouse said in a statement. It added, "Building and maintaining a strong global supply chain is critical to providing clean, reliable nuclear energy throughout the world."
Westinghouse has held similar supplier conferences in Canada, Czech Republic, India, South Africa and the UK. The company said that the UAE was selected a venue for such an event because of its "centralized location within the region, as well as access to potential suppliers who may already have specialized knowledge and skills in the energy sector."
During the conference, participants were identified for later qualification in areas of work including fabrication of construction modules; development of a qualified and skilled supply base; onsite erection and assembly of components; and nuclear component manufacturing.