Playing the Leading Role in the Global Nuclear Industry – China’s Innovation for Advanced Passive Reactor

Written by Zaf Coelho. Posted in Uncategorized

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the 61st General Conference of IAEA in Vienna. As one of the member states, China was represented by China Atomic Energy Agency (CAEA) and the State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation (SNPTC).

During one of the side events, the Senior Vice President of SNPTC Dr. Zheng Mingguang gave a presentation which gave an overview of the current stage of China’s nuclear industry and compared the different reactor technologies designed by China. With Fuqing Unit 4 commissioned in August this year, there is currently 37 reactors operating in China and 19 reactors under construction which is more than any other country in the world. Unlike others, China does not undertake only one certain nuclear reactor type. Instead there are different designs of reactor being developed simultaneously in China, including CAP1400, Hualong-1, High-Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactor, VVER which was adopted from Russia, and CANDU the heavy water reactor which was adopted from Canada.

The National Middle & Long Term Key Project-CAP1400

CAP1400 was designed based on the passive 2-loop GEN III reactor AP1000. Development of CAP1400 including the design & equipment developed to meet with the Chinese-standards. According to the design, CAP1400 has less number of welding, less spare parts, and less waste generated. The operation flexibility was also enhanced after Fukushima.

Another important feature of CAP1400 which was emphasized during the presentation is the better economy. After the localization of its supply chain, and the strategic supplier assessment, the economics of CAP1400 construction is projected to be better controlled. It is estimated as USD 3000 per kW of the output cost in China.

China’s Ambassador to UN Vienna Mr. Shi Zhongjun commented during the conference as “the National Key Project of large-scale advanced passive PWR is a strategic arrangement of China being a strong power of the global nuclear industry and achieving the leapfrog development of the nuclear technology.”

Up to date, the design of CAP1400 has been approved by China National Energy Administration and it has passed the reactor safety assessment of IAEA. The CAP1400 demonstration nuclear power plant site-design in Rongchen has been 96% accomplished and ready for construction.

China’s Innovation on Small Module Reactors

SNP350 is the advanced technology applied for CNP300 which China has constructed in Chashma, Pakistan. SNP350 is designed to meet all the latest regulations, standards and requirements, with most advanced design methods and tools, modern material, manufacturing process, measuring instrument and control system. It has the features of better balancing, better risk control, and simplified operation and maintenance.

CNP300, designed by SNERDI,at Chashma Nuclear Power Plant, Pakistan

CAP200 is also an innovation which aims to replace thermal plants. Compare to other reactors, CAP200 is more flexible to have extensive site adaptability. It contains 32m deep underground structure with seismic isolation layer to ensure its better natural disaster resistance.

Suggestions for a Better Future of the Nuclear Industry

During the presentation, the Chinese representatives also shared the suggestions on the future development of the industry. One of the interesting point is that the future development should be divided into two directions, with the large-scale project being constructed, small-scaled reactor should be focused in the near-city area. With the multiple applications of heating, cooling, desalination etc. SMR in the future can play a very important role to be involved in our daily life.

Today, more and more people in the nuclear industry are putting their attention on China. As I see, China has taken the responsibility well to lead the development of global nuclear industry. We can see China’s effort on developing safer, more reliable, more sustainable, more scalable, and more economic nuclear power reactor technology.

Do you have any questions or interesting opinion with regards to China’s nuclear industry?