China’s HTR-PM reactor reaches first criticality: New Nuclear
September 13, 2021
The first of the two gas-cooled high-temperature reactors of the HTR-PM demonstration plant in Shidaowan in the Chinese province of Shandong achieved a sustainable chain reaction for the first time yesterday. The reactor is to be connected to the power grid this year.
Workers in the control room of the HTR-PM bring the first reactor to the first criticality (Image: China Huaneng)
The No. 1 reactor reached its first criticality at 9:35 a.m. on September 12, China Huaneng said. It found that this milestone was reached 23 days after refueling began.
The company said the demonstration project will now run zero physical performance tests to verify the performance of the core and control rods, as well as the availability of monitoring systems for nuclear instruments. China Huaneng added that it will “further standardize the follow-up commissioning and trial operation of the demonstration project to ensure the first on-grid power generation in 2021”.
Construction of the HTR-PM demonstration plant with two small reactors driving a single 210 MWe turbine began in December 2012. China Huaneng is the leading organization in the consortium for the construction of the demonstration plants (with a 47.5% share) . together with the China National Nuclear Corporation subsidiary China Nuclear Engineering Corporation (CNEC) (32.5%) and the Institute of Nuclear and New Energy Technology (20%), the research and development leader of Tsinghua University. Chinergy, a joint venture between Tsinghua and CNEC, is the prime contractor for the nuclear island.
China Huaneng found that the localization rate of HTR-PM devices reached a level of 93.4%. It found that the demonstration project as the world’s first modular high-temperature high-temperature gas-cooled reactor uses more than 2000 equipment sets and more than 600 innovative equipment sets for the first time, including the world’s first high-temperature gas-cooled reactor with a spiral-coil once-through steam generator. It also features the first high-performance, high-temperature, thermal electromagnetic bearing structure for the main helium fan, as well as the world’s largest and heaviest reactor pressure vessel.
Cold functional tests aimed at checking the primary circuit system and the equipment of the reactor as well as the strength and tightness of its auxiliary lines under a pressure higher than the design pressure were completed on October 19 and November 3 in the two reactors of the HTR-PM. In the year or in January, hot function tests were started that simulate the temperatures and pressures to which the reactor systems are exposed during normal operation.
China’s nuclear regulatory agency, the National Nuclear Safety Administration, issued an operating license for the HTR-PM on August 20. The next day the loading of the first spherical fuel elements into the first reactor began.
The HTR-PM has the advantages of inherent security, high device localization rate, modular structure and adaptation to small and medium-sized power networks. It also has a wide range of potential commercial uses including power generation, cogeneration, and high temperature process heat applications.
Another 18 such HTR-PM units are proposed for the Shidaowan site. In addition to HTR-PM, China is proposing a scaled version called HTR-PM600, in which a large turbine with an output of 650 MWe is driven by around six HTR-PM reactor units. Feasibility studies for the use of the HTR-PM600 are in progress for Sanmen, Zhejiang Province; Ruijin, Jiangxi Province; Xiapu and Wan’an in Fujian Province; and Bai’an, Guangdong Province.
Researched and written by World Nuclear News