Chinese fast reactor begins high-power operation : New Nuclear

February 19, 2021

The China Experimental Fast Reactor (CEFR) was restarted and reconnected to the grid, marking the entry into the high-performance operating phase. The pool sodium-cooled high speed reactor began with a tank and maintenance outage in late July last year after the commissioning tests were completed for the reactor’s performance testing phase, which confirmed that its performance had met design requirements under stable conditions and expected transient operating conditions.

Workers in control of the GER (Image: CIAE)

The Chinese Institute for Atomic Energy (CIEA) announced that the GER started its second operating cycle on January 19th and went back online on February 15th. The high-performance operation of the GER is “an important way to master the fast reactor technology and to promote talents”.

The GER was established near Beijing with Russian support at the CIEA, which conducts basic research on nuclear science and technology. The reactor has a heat capacity of 65 MW and can generate 20 MW of electricity. The GER was established by the Russian OKBM Afrikantov in collaboration with OKB Gidropress, NIKIET and the Kurchatov Institute.

The first concrete for the GER was poured in May 2000. The reactor reached its first criticality in July 2010 and was connected to the grid a year later with a capacity of 40%. Since then, various commissioning tests have been carried out on the reactor, the turbines and the sodium pump system at increasing power levels. Material and fuel irradiation tests were also carried out during this period. In 2014, the GER achieved its design goal of 72 hours at full power.

After completing low power tests and rated power tests earlier, the GER was restarted on June 19 last year for high power operation. A number of tests were completed over the next 40 days of operation, including a dynamic test of the digital electro-hydraulic control system of the steam turbine, a 75% load rejection test of the turbine load, and a cold start power flow measurement test. The reactor then went into a tank and maintenance failure.

China’s rapid reactor development has implemented a three-step strategy, from an experimental rapid reactor to a demonstration rapid reactor to a commercial rapid reactor.

Based on the GER, the CIEA developed a 600 MWe design – the CFR-600. Construction of a demonstration unit in Xiapu County in the Chinese province of Fujian began in December 2017. It will have an output of 1500 MWt and 600 MWe. The reactor will use mixed oxide fuel (MOX) with a burnup of 100 GWd / t and will have two coolant circuits that generate steam at 480 ° C. Later fuel will be made of metal with a burnup of 100-120 GWd / t. The reactor will have active and passive shutdown systems and passive heat dissipation. Construction of a second CFR-600 unit at the Xiapu site began in December 2020.

One commercial unit – the CFR1000 – will have a capacity of 1000-1200 MWe. Subject to a decision to proceed, construction could begin in December 2028 with operations from around 2034. This construction uses metal fuel and 120-150 GWd / t burnup.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News

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