China plans demonstration nuclear heating project

12 February 2018

A feasibility study on constructing China's first nuclear plant for district heating is being carried out by China General Nuclear (CGN) and Tsinghua University. The plant would use the domestically-developed NHR200-II low-temperature heating reactor technology.

NHR200-II reactor - 460 (CGN)
An artist's impression of a plant based on the NHR200-II reactor (Image: CGN)

China's National Energy Administration (NEA) recently organised a meeting to discuss nuclear energy heating in northern China. The meeting agreed that CGN and Tsinghua University should conduct preliminary work on the construction of a demonstration project in China. The work is to include planning and site selection, land and water use, emergency plans, communication with the public and actively promoting the project.

CGN said there is a great deal of experience in using nuclear energy for district heating abroad, and a large amount of research and development work on nuclear heating has already been carried out in China.

Research work in China on the possible application of nuclear heat began in the early 1980s. During 1983-1984, the Institute of Nuclear Energy and Technology (INET) at Tsinghua University used its existing pool-type test reactor to provide space heat for nearby buildings. Meanwhile two types of nuclear heating reactors - one a deep pool type, the other a vessel type - were developed by INET. The vessel type reactor was selected as the main development direction. Construction of a 5 MWt experimental nuclear heating reactor (NHR5) at INET began in 1986 and was completed in 1989. The larger, demonstration-scale NHR200-II was developed from this.

CGN senior vice president Shu Guogang said the NHR200-II low-temperature heating reactor technology is a mature design and passed a safety review by the National Nuclear Safety Administration in the 1990s. He noted the design was ranked first in NEA's review of small-scale nuclear reactor technology in 2016.

The NHR200-II design concept offer high safety and can be used for a wide range of applications, CGN said. In addition to electricity generation, it can also be used to provide heat, water and steam for applications including residential heating, industrial process heat and supplying remote areas with energy. It also features flexibility in location, so it can be built near to the end-users. Moreover, its construction requires only two to three years, if done on a mass production basis, according to CGN.

The Chinese government has made clean-energy heating a priority, CGN noted. Last year, the authorities issued guidance on clean heating in winter in northern China. The NEA released a five-year plan - covering 2017-2021 - highlighting the innovation of clean heating technology and consideration of nuclear heating.

CGN Chairman He Yu said: "As China's first trial use of nuclear power to generate over 100 MW of heating energy, the project will serve as a model for clean-energy heating and is considered an ideal replacement for coal-burning. It will help reduce coal consumption, curbing pollution and promoting cleaner heating in North China."

CGN said it will "earnestly carry out the preliminary work for the project, push the project to obtain state approval and start construction as soon as possible, and promote clean heating in the northern region".

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News