China begins building pilot fast reactor

29 December 2017

Construction of China's 600 MWe demonstration fast reactor at Xiapu, Fujian province, has officially begun with the pouring of the first concrete for the reactor's basemat. The reactor is scheduled to begin commercial operation by 2023.

Xiapu fast reactor - first concrete - 460 (CNNC)
Construction gets under way of the CFR-600 at Xiapu (Image: CNNC)

China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) announced today that civil nuclear construction had begun on the "landmark project for the development of China's nuclear industry".

Earlier this month, China Nuclear Industry 23 Construction Co Ltd signed the construction contract for installation of the nuclear island of the Xiapu fast reactor pilot project, following a tender process.

At a ceremony to mark the start of construction, CNNC chairman Wang Shoujun described the project as a major national nuclear science and technology project. He said it is of great significance for realising the closed nuclear fuel cycle, promoting the sustainable development of nuclear energy in China and promoting the development of the local economy.

Fast neutron reactors (FNRs) are seen as the main reactor technology for China, and CNNC expects the FNR to become predominant by mid-century. The country's research and development on fast neutron reactors started in 1964.

A 65 MWt fast neutron reactor - the Chinese Experimental Fast Reactor (CEFR) - near Beijing achieved criticality in July 2010, and was grid-connected a year later.

Based on this, a 600 MWe design - the CFR-600 - was developed by the China Institute of Atomic Energy. The Xiapu reactor will be a demonstration of that sodium-cooled pool-type fast reactor design. This will have an output of 1500 MW thermal power and 600 MW electric power. The reactor will use mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel with 100 GWd/t burnup, and will feature two coolant loops producing steam at 480°C. Later fuel will be metal with burnup of 100-120 GWd/t. The reactor will have active and passive shutdown systems and passive decay heat removal.

A commercial-scale unit - the CFR1000 - will have a capacity of 1000-1200 MWe. Subject to a 2020 decision to proceed, construction could start in December 2028, with operation from about 2034. That design will use metal fuel and 120-150 GWd/t burnup.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News