Reactor vessels installed at US, Chinese units

03 April 2018

The same construction milestone - installation of the reactor pressure vessel (RPV) - has been reached at unit 4 of the Vogtle nuclear power plant in the US state of Georgia and at unit 5 of the Hongyanhe plant in China's Liaoning province.

Vogtle 4 RPV installation - 460 (Georgia Power)
The RPV of Vogtle 4 is lowered into the unit's containment building (Image: Georgia Power)

The RPV was lifted into its permanent location in Vogtle 4's nuclear island on 29 March, Georgia Power has announced. The RPV, which is nearly 11 metres high, will house the reactor core and associated components including the reactor vessel internals.

The component - weighing 306 tonnes - was fabricated by Doosan Heavy Industries in South Korea. It was shipped through the Port of Savannah and arrived at the construction site via train on a specialised rail car. The operation to lift it into place was carried out using one of the largest cranes in the world.

Work will now begin to place bulk commodities such as piping, pumps and cabling throughout Vogtle 4's reactor system. Preparations will also begin for the installation of the first of the unit's steam generators.

Georgia Power - a subsidiary of Southern Company - owns 45.7% of the project to construct two AP1000 units at the Vogtle site, near Waynesboro, with co-owners Oglethorpe Power (30%), MEAG Power (22.7%) and Dalton Utilities (1.6%). Following constructor Westinghouse's Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in 2017, Georgia Power in August filed a recommendation with the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) to complete construction of the two AP1000 units as the most economic choice for customers. In December, the PSC unanimously approved Georgia Power's recommendation to complete Vogtle units 3 and 4.

Construction of Vogtle unit 3 began in March 2013 and unit 4 in November of that year. The units will be the first in the USA to use AP1000 technology following the announcement last August by Scana Corporation subsidiary South Carolina Electric & Gas of its decision to cease construction of two AP1000 reactors at VC Summer.

Vogtle unit 3 - which had its RPV installed in November 2016 - is scheduled to enter commercial operation in November 2021, with unit 4 following in November 2022.

Hongyanhe 5 shares milestone

The reactor pressure vessel of unit 5 of China's Hongyanhe plant was installed on 30 March, plant constructor China Nuclear Industry 23 Construction Company Limited (CNI23) has announced.

Hongyanhe 5 RPV installation - 460 (CNI23)
Installation of Hongyanhe 5's RPV (Image: CNI23)

The vessel - measuring 10m in height, 4.6m in diameter and weighing 261 tonnes - arrived by ship at the Hongyanhe site on 18 March. On arrival, the component - manufactured by Shanghai Electric Nuclear Power Equipment Co Ltd - was transported directly to the nuclear island gantry of unit 5.

Unit 5 is the first of two 1080 MWe CGN-designed ACPR-1000 reactors that will form the second phase of the Hongyanhe plant. When the unit is in operation, the RPV will work under pressure of 155 bar at a temperature of over 300°C.

Construction of Phase I of the plant, comprising four CPR-1000 pressurised water reactors, began in August 2009. Units 1 and 2 have been in commercial operation since June 2013 and May 2014, respectively, while unit 3 entered commercial operation in August 2015 and unit 4 in September 2016.

Construction of unit 5 began in March 2015, with construction of unit 6 starting in July the same year. Installation of the reactor pressure vessel of unit 6 is scheduled to begin by the end of this year. CGN said the second phase of the project is planned to be completed in 2021.

The Hongyanhe plant is owned and operated by Liaoning Hongyanhe Nuclear Power Co, a joint venture between CGN and State Power Investment Corporation, each holding a 45% stake, with the Dalian Municipal Construction Investment Co holding the remaining 10%.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News