China Nears Completion of First Commercial Walk-away Safe Nuclear Reactor

Twin HTR-PM reactors will drive a single 210 MWe turbine in China’s high-temperature pebble bed reactor. This new reactor could eventually be mostly factory mass-produced. The higher temperature will make it about 45% thermal efficiency versus 34-40% efficiency for pressure water reactors. 18 more HTR-PM units are proposed at Shidaowan.

* pebble bed reactors have 9 grams of uranium in each tennis ball-sized pebble
* the pebbles can melt a plug and spread out in a pan so that gravity and physics prevent a meltdown. This makes them walk-away safe.

The higher temperature means that the waste heat can be used to for industrial applications. The temperature matches the level of advanced coal plants so that it would easier to use these reactors to replace coal burners. 80% of a coal plant would not be altered.

Beyond HTR-PM, China proposes a scaled-up version called HTR-PM600, which sees one large turbine rated at 650 MWe driven by some six HTR-PM reactor units. Feasibility studies on HTR-PM600 deployment are underway for Sanmen, Zhejiang province; Ruijin, Jiangxi province; Xiapu and Wan’an, in Fujian province; and Bai’an, Guangdong province.

The reactor pressure vessel, steam generator and the hot gas duct of the second reactor at China’s demonstration high-temperature gas-cooled reactor plant (HTR-PM) have been successfully paired and connected.

SOURCES- Columbia Energy Policy – A Comparison of Nuclear Technologies, World Nuclear News