Vehicles can be loaded. China Nuclear Program will build a small lead-bismuth demonstration reactor in 2025

 Vehicles can be loaded. China Nuclear Program will build a small lead-bismuth demonstration reactor in 2025

Photo Source: China Nuclear Group

Journalist | Jiang Fan

According to official news of China Nuclear Industry Group (hereinafter referred to as China Nuclear Group), Qixing III, Chinas first lead-bismuth alloy zero-power reactor, achieved its first criticality at 11:05 a.m. on October 9, and officially launched the physical experiment of core nuclear characteristics of Chinas lead-bismuth alloy reactor at the China Institute of Atomic Energy Research (hereinafter referred to as the Atomic Energy Institute).

The criticality of nuclear power unit indicates that the debugging of the whole system and equipment of the unit has been basically completed, and the unit has entered a stable operation state with minimum nuclear power.

Yang Hongyi, head of the lead-bismuth reactor and zero power test project, said that this also marked a milestone in the key technology of the lead-bismuth reactor core in China. The research and development of the lead-bismuth fast reactor has entered the engineering stage from the physical basic research stage.

Cao Shudong, deputy general manager of CNNC, said that it is necessary to take the completion of the construction of small-scale lead bismuth reactor demonstration reactor by 2025 as the stage goal, realize the engineering and technical breakthrough of small-scale lead bismuth reactor as soon as possible, and form the model pedigree development capacity and mass production and application capacity.

At present, the small-scale lead-bismuth fast reactor developed independently in China has basically met the engineering requirements.

In 2002, the Fourth Generation International Forum on Nuclear Energy Systems (GIF Forum) selected six most promising reactor types, namely sodium-cooled fast reactor, lead-cooled fast reactor, gas-cooled fast reactor, supercritical water reactor, ultra-high temperature gas-cooled reactor and molten salt reactor, to form the fourth generation reactor system.

Lead-cooled fast reactor (LFR) is a fast neutron reactor cooled by liquid lead or lead-bismuth alloy. Through the closed fuel cycle, it has good nuclear waste transmutation and nuclear fuel proliferation ability, as well as high safety and economy. It was rated by GIF as the first fourth generation reactor expected to achieve industrial demonstration and commercial applications.

According to Yang Hongyi, lead bismuth alloy has low melting point and high boiling point. Compared with traditional reactors, it has higher inherent safety and ability to resist serious accidents, higher energy density and longer operation life.

In application, the lead-bismuth reactor can be designed as a large-scale power plant of millions of megawatts or a small modular nuclear power source.

How small can it be? A car running on the road can carry it. Its a real movable nuclear power source. Yang Hongyi said.

Qixing Zero Power Reactor is the only important reactor physics experiment platform independently designed and built by CNPC for the development of advanced reactor engineering technology.

Twenty years ago, the IAEA launched research and development on ADS and related technologies for lead-bismuth reactors.

In July 2005, Qixing I, Chinas first fast thermal-coupled ADS sub-critical reactor, was built at the Atomic Energy Institute and became the benchmark facility for IAEA to conduct ADS experimental research.

In December 2016, Qixing II lead-based two-core zero power device was critical at the Atomic Energy Institute.

Qixing III, aiming at the technical target of lead-bismuth reactor, took nearly two years to complete. A series of experiments will be carried out after the critical point is first realized.

According to CNPC, the reactor aims at the key and difficult problems in the engineering of lead-bismuth fast reactor. The interaction mode between nuclear fuel and lead-bismuth alloy coolant material is accurately constructed in large-scale lead-bismuth alloy coolant material, which can more accurately simulate the core physical characteristics of lead-bismuth reactor.

The reactor is also equipped with a number of passive safety shutdown systems based on different principles, which are inherently safe.

The international community is also accelerating the development of the fourth generation nuclear power technology, such as lead-cooled fast reactor, and developing uranium-molybdenum alloy fuel and Accident-resistant fuel.

According to the Significant Developments in Nuclear Industry and Technology Abroad in 2018 released in April this year, Russia has approved the construction of a lead-cooled fast reactor nuclear power plant, planned to start construction in 2022, and started construction of matching nuclear fuel factories ahead of schedule.

Europe plans to complete the construction of 600 MW lead-cooled fast reactor ELSY and 125 MW lead-cooled fast reactor ALFRED demonstration reactor around 2030.

The fourth generation reactor technical standard published in 2018 in the United States specifies the basic technical requirements for the design and construction of lead cooled fast reactor.

Source: Responsible Editor of Interface News: Wang Fengzhi_NT2541