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China’s Gen-IV advanced nuclear energy system reaps results


China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) and more than 10 domestic and overseas scientific research units have made many significant advancements in the R&D and design of the fourth generation advanced nuclear system - lead-cooled fast reactor.

The latest development of such nuclear system was released at the International Symposium on Lead-Cooled Fast Reactor Technology Development held in Shenzhen on March 15.

The fourth generation advanced nuclear system is a fast neutron reactor which uses molten metal lead or lead-bismuth eutectic as a coolant and adopts a closed fuel cycle, which can be operated under normal pressure and high temperature. The lead-cooled fast reactor has a fuel conversion mechanism which allows for more effective use of uranium and thorium, greatly increasing fuel sustainability. It also can be used to burn long-lasting actinides in used fuel from existing light water reactors so as to use nuclear energy more cleanly. The technology’s inert and low-pressure coolant systems improve the safety of the reactor. The lead-cooled fast reactor is safe, economical and sustainable, which is one of the directions advanced nuclear energy technology is going.

 As the developer of the Gen-III nuclear power technology HPR1000, CGN is China’s largest nuclear power operator, the world’s largest nuclear power constructor and the third largest nuclear power company in the world.

 CGN also leads in the research and development of the fourth generation of nuclear power technology. It has partnered with the Chinese Academy of Sciences and a dozen other domestic and overseas scientific research institutions in spearheading research of lead-cooled fast reactors and related key technology and facilities, software, experimental verification, new materials and infrastructure. The advanced nuclear energy smart optimization cloud design platform (ANSOC) independently developed by CGN can realize multi-objective optimization design, greatly simplifying the process of design, research and development.

In the technology sector, the development and research of the preparation of high strength oxide dispersion strengthened steel by melting process (ODS), the austenitic stainless steel cladding used for Chinas lead-cooled fast reactor CLRASSand the high precision platinum oxygen sensor have made key improvements in corrosion resistance and irradiation of lead - cooled fast reactor materials. The closed reloading device housed in an opaque medium as well as the technique of collecting polonium 210 using rare earth methods further improve the safety of lead - cooled fast reactors. Additionally, in the hardware sector, CGN has established multiple laboratorial platforms including a lead bismuth process integration platform and an oxygen control performance testing device.

Organizations attending the symposium include the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Generation IV International Forum (GIF) and international institutions from Russia, Italy, Belgium, Korea and Sweden. Delegates from the Ministry of Science and Technology, National Energy Administration, State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense and the Chinese Academy of Sciences were also present. More than 100 experts at the symposium agreed that the lead-cooled fast reactor has good development prospects and deserves to be promoted with a more open mind.

At the symposium, CGN signed a MOU with the Italian ANSALDO nuclear power company on the development of key technology and system design of the lead-cooled fast reactor.