Chinese fast reactor completes full-power test run

19 December 2014

China's experimental fast neutron reactor has been successfully operated at full capacity for the first time, China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) announced.

The CEFR (Image: CNNC)

The Chinese Experimental Fast Reactor (CEFR) was brought to full power at 5.00pm on 15 December and operated at this level continuously for three full days, CNNC said yesterday.

The sodium-cooled, pool-type fast reactor was constructed with Russian assistance at the China Institute of Atomic Energy (CIEA), near Beijing, which undertakes fundamental research on nuclear science and technology. The reactor has a thermal capacity of 65 MW and can produce 20 MW in electrical power. The CEFR was built by Russia's OKBM Afrikantov in collaboration with OKB Gidropress, NIKIET and Kurchatov Institute.

The CEFR project was approved by the Chinese State Council in 1992, with final approval given in 1995. The China Experimental Fast Reactor is one of the major energy projects under the national high-tech research and development program of China's "National 863 Program". The China Institute of Atomic Energy (CIAE) is the organizer of the project's construction.

CEFR at full power 460 (SASTIND)
Workers in the CEFR's control room monitor the reactor as it operates at full power
(Image: SASTIND)

First concrete for the CEFR was poured in May 2000 at CIAE's Beijing site. The reactor achieved first criticality in July 2010 and was connected to the grid at 40% capacity a year later. Since then, various commissioning tests  on the reactor, the turbines and of the sodium pumping system have been carried out at increasing power output levels. Materials and fuel irradiation tests have also been conducted over this period. So far the reactor has accumulated 438 hours of operation. CNNC said it expects "the first phase of testing" to be completed in the first half of 2015.

Xu Dazhe, head of the China Atomic Energy Authority and the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence (SASTIND), attended a ceremony to mark the end of the full-power trial operation of CEFR. He was quoted by the Xinhua news agency as saying, "The achievement has laid a solid foundation for fast reactor technology development, commercialization and nuclear fuel cycle technology development."

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News