- China has commissioned the world’s first small modular nuclear reactor.
- China Huaneng Group Co.’s 200 MW unit 1 reactor at Shidao Bay has been connected to the grid in the Shandong province.
- The company is also developing a second reactor, which is scheduled to go into full operation next year following tests.
The 200-megawatt small modular reactor (SMR) is roughly a fifth of the size of China’s first proprietary reactor design, called Hualong One. Its small size allows for greater scalability as well as reduced operations and deployment costs.
The gas-cooled HTR-PM is a Generation-IV reactor design with twin reactor modules of 100 MW each driving a single 200-MW steam turbine.
Its fuel is in the form of thousands of six-centimetre graphite pebbles containing uranium enriched to 8.9% uranium-235. Instead of cooling water, the reactor’s graphite core is bathed in inert helium gas with an outlet temperature of up to 750°C.
In line with the Generation-IV concept, the HTR-PM reactor can shut down safely in the event of an emergency without causing a core meltdown or significant leak of radioactive material. Work on the HTGR began in December 2012
Shidao Bay nuclear power plant is a joint venture by China Huaneng Group, China Nuclear Engineering & Construction Group, and Tsinghua University. The are plans for 10 units. The total investment of 100 billion yuan (US$15.7 billion) and the 20-year construction plan makes it China’s largest planned nuclear project.
China Huaneng, the lead organisation in the consortium to build the HTR-PM with a 47.5% stake, said the plant is suitable for small and medium-sized power grids and has a range of potential commercial applications, including power generation, cogeneration of heat and power, and high-temperature process heat applications.
Author: Bryan Groenendaal