Contract awarded for CAREM vessel

04 December 2013

The reactor pressure vessel (RPV) for Argentina's prototype CAREM reactor is to be manufactured domestically by engineering company IMP SA. It will be the first RPV to be designed and manufactured in the country.

CAREM-25 (CNEA)_460
CNEA's vision for CAREM-25 (Image: CNEA)

The ARS 298 million ($64 million) contract to manufacture the 200 tonne vessel was signed in a ceremony led by the head of Argentina's cabinet Jorge Capitanich and federal planning minister Julio De Vido. As well as the manufacture of the vessel - which is 11 m high and 3.5 m in diameter - the contract also includes the associated internal structures and its installation at the plant. The RPV has been designed by Argentina's national atomic energy commission, the Comisión Nacional de Energía Atómica (CNEA).

CAREM - the name is taken from Central ARgentina de Elementos Modulares - is a domestically-designed and developed 25 MWe small modular pressurized water reactor. A prototype of the design, CAREM-25, is being built at a site adjacent to the Atucha nuclear power plant in Lima, 110 km northwest of Buenos Aires. According to the CNEA, the unit is currently scheduled to begin cold testing in 2016 and receive its first fuel load in the second half of 2017.

As well as relying on passive safety systems, CAREM's entire primary coolant system is contained within the single self-pressurized vessel and uses free convection to circulate the coolant. This eliminates the need for devices such as pumps within the primary circuit and decreases the extent and complexity of the piping system required, as well as reducing the possibility of accidents involving a loss of coolant.

Once the design is proven, a larger 100-200 MWe version of the reactor is pencilled in to be built in the northern province of Formosa.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News