China claims first fast neutron nuclear reactor connected to grid, generating power

By Dorothy Davis

Sun Qin, head of the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) announced Thursday that the nation’s first experimental fast neutron reactor has been successfully connected to the grid at a 40 percent capacity and is generating electricity.

The experimental reactor project, officially dubbed the Chinese Experimental Fast Reactor (CEFR), was constructed with Russian aid in Bejing at the China Institute of Atomic Energy and boasts a thermal nuclear capacity of 65 megawatts and a power-generating capacity of 20 megawatts.

CERF officials also outlined the project’s fast-reactor technology will be able to minimize the radiative discharge of nuclear waste as well as increase the utilization rate of uranium to 60 percent versus the 1 percent rate of traditional pressurized water reactors.

This technology could also mean that nuclear waste from older, less efficient reactors may potentially be reused helping China to develop an advanced fuel-recycling system that could meet the nation’s increasing uranium demands.

Xu Mi, chief engineer on the CERF project told Bloomberg, "The next step for us is to increase the generating capacity of the reactor to 100 percent while connected to the grid." Xu continued, "After that, we can use the technology to build our own commercial fast reactors."

China’s first commercial scale fast neutron reactor to be located near Sanming in Fujiam province is slated to begin development in 2018 by a joint venture company established in 2010 in which CNNC holds a majority stake.

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