China Adapted US and European Nuclear Reactor Technology at Four Times Lower Cost

China will start operating two new large Hualong nuclear reactors this year and another two next year. Each Hualong nuclear reactor will generate one gigawatt of nuclear power. They were made by adapting third generation US and European nuclear reactor technology designs. CNNC ‘Hualong One’ version will be the main domestic model built with the aim of lowering the price of the reactor to equip the national fleet cheaply while having generation 3 or or 3.5 safety levels.

Target cost in China is $2800-3000/kWe, though recent estimates mention $3500/kW. CGN said in November 2015 that the series construction cost would be CNY 17,000/kWe ($2650/kWe), compared with CNY 13,000/kWe for generation II reactors. This is about four times lower cost than US and European reactors built in the USA. China’s costs have been far lower but China’s build of the Western AP1000 system and the French EPR had cost and time overruns. Hualong was originally planned as a reactor for export but is now a main option in China because of problems on the AP1000 construction.

The CNNC and CGN versions will be very similar but not identical; they will have slightly different safety systems, with CNNC use more passive safety under AP1000 influence with increased containment volume and two active safety trains, and CGN with French influence having three active safety trains.

The Hualong One or HPR1000 has 177 fuel assemblies 3.66 m long, 18-24 month refuelling interval, equilibrium fuel load will be 72 assemblies with 4.45% enriched fuel. It has three coolant loops, double containment and active safety systems with some passive elements, and a 60-year design life. The passive systems are able to operate for 72 hours with a sufficient inventory of storage water and dedicated batteries. The CGN version delivers 3150 MWt, 1150 MWe gross, 1092 MWe net, while CNNC quotes 3050 MWt, 1170 MWe gross, 1090 MWe net. Average burn-up is 45,000 MWd/tU, thermal efficiency 36%. Seismic tolerance is 300 Gal. Instrumentation and control systems will be from Areva-Siemens, but overall 90% will be indigenous components.

SOURCES – Xinhua, World Nuclear Association
Written by Brian Wang,


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