China leads new used fuel recycling project
China has operated two Canadian CANDU 6 reactors at Qinshan since 2003, and these have been used over the last few years to trial a new way of recycling used fuel from China’s main reactor fleet. In particular, uranium recovered from used PWR fuel is blended with a little depleted uranium to make natural uranium equivalent (NUE, about 0.7% U-235). This has been shown to behave the same as the natural uranium fuel normally used in those CANDU reactors.
This trial led to a 2012 agreement between Canada’s Candu Energy, China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) and two other Chinese companies to develop a detailed conceptual design of an Advanced Fuel CANDU Reactor (AFCR) based on the Enhanced CANDU 6 (EC6), which would run entirely on such fuel. One 700 MWe AFCR could be fully fuelled by the recycled uranium from four 1000 MWe PWRs’ used fuel. Hence deployment of AFCRs in China among its increasing fleet of PWRs would greatly reduce the task of managing used fuel and disposing of high-level wastes, as well as significantly reducing China’s fresh uranium requirements.
Now a new agreement among Candu Energy’s parent company SNC-Lavalin, CNNC and the major engineering company Shanghai Electric Group (SEC) has been signed, to set up a joint venture in mid 2017 to develop, market and build the AFCR. CNNC will have a majority share in the JV. Two design centres are envisaged, in China and Canada, to complete the AFCR technology, with a view to construction of two AFCR units in China.
WNN 23/9/16. China fuel cycle
New Chinese reactor in commercial operation
Hongyanhe unit 4 in Liaoning province has commenced commercial operation, after being grid-connected in April. Its completion was delayed due to low electricity demand in the northeast. It will be one of the last CPR-1000 reactors to enter service. Units 5 & 6 under construction at the site are later versions.
WNN 20/9/15 China NP
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