High Temperature gas nuclear pebble bed fuel production

The installation of equipment has been completed at a pilot production line in Baotou in Inner Mongolia for fuel elements for China’s Shidaowan HTR-PM, a high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR) demonstration project. The new pilot production line will have an annual capacity of 300,000 fuel elements. The National Nuclear Security Administration issued a permit for its construction in February 2013 and a groundbreaking ceremony was held the following month. It is expected to be commissioned in August 2015

The Institute for Nuclear and New Energy Technology (INET) at Tsinghua University has conducted research on HTGR fuel element technology over the past 30 years. It developed a trial production line with an annual capacity of 100,000 spherical fuel elements. The new, larger production line is based on that technology. INET has supplied specialized equipment for three main processes involved in the production of the HTR’s spherical fuel elements: manufacturing, aging, washing and drying equipment for uranium dioxide; fuel pellet coating equipment; and, a press for forming the spherical fuel elements.

The fuel produced by the pilot plant will be used by the demonstration high-temperature gas-cooled reactor plant being built at Shidaowan, near Weihai city in Shandong province. This will initially comprise twin HTR-PM reactor modules driving a single 210 MWe steam turbine. Construction started in late 2012, with commercial operation scheduled in 2015. A further 18 such HTR-PM units are proposed at Shidaowan.

China Huaneng Group, one of China’s major generators, is the lead organization involved in the demonstration HTR-PM plant with a 47.5% share; China Nuclear Engineering & Construction (CNEC) will have a 32.5% stake and Tsinghua University’s INET 20% – it being the main R&D contributor.

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