16.06.2014_No188 / News in Brief

China Announces Plans To Develop Gen-IV Supercritical-Water-Cooled Reactor

Research & Development

16 Jun (NucNet): China has completed the basic technology research and published a development roadmap for a Generation IV demonstration supercritical-water-cooled reactor that could be commissioned in 2022.

The Nuclear Power Institute of China said the SCR-1000 reactor block will have a capacity of about 1,000 megawatts.

The institute will work on the demonstration unit as part of the Generation IV International Forum (GIF), which sees 13 countries and regions collaborate in the development of Generation IV nuclear energy systems.

The institute said it had identified four stages of development, continuing until 2025. Further technology development will begin this year, followed by engineering research and development from 2017-2021, construction from 2019 -2023, and commissioning between 2022 and 2025.

China began to study the possibility of a supercritical-water-cooled reactor in 2003 and established research teams and a project management office in 2007.

The reactor is one of six reactor systems chosen by GIF for “further research and development”.

GIF says Generation-IV designs will use fuel more efficiently, reduce waste production, be economically competitive, and meet stringent standards of safety and proliferation resistance.

Some 100 experts evaluated 130 reactor concepts before GIF chose the final six. They are the gas-cooled fast reactor (GFR), the lead-cooled fast reactor (LFR), the molten salt reactor (MSR), the sodium-cooled fast reactor (SFR), the very high temperature reactor (VHTR) and the supercritical-water-cooled reactor (SCWR).

SCWRs are high temperature, high-pressure, light-water-cooled reactors that operate above the thermodynamic critical point of water. They have the potential of lower capital costs for a given electric power of the plant and of better fuel utilisation, GIF said.

However, there are several technological challenges associated with the development of the SCWR, particularly the need to validate transient heat transfer models (for describing the depressurisation from supercritical to sub-critical conditions), qualification of materials (advanced steels for cladding), and demonstration of the passive safety systems.

For details of the SCWR: www.gen-4.org/gif/jcms/c_40679/technology-system-scwr

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