Demonstration HTR-PM prepares for grid connection

16 December 2021

CORRECTED - The High Temperature Gas Cooled Reactor-Pebble-bed Module (HTR-PM) at the Shidaowan plant in China's Shandong province is preparing to be connected to the grid for the first time, China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) has announced. The unit's twin reactors achieved first criticality in September and November, respectively.

The HTR-PM (Image: CNNC)

CNNC said the HTR-PM will be connected to the grid by 15 January, 65 days after the second of its two reactors was started up.

Construction of the demonstration HTR-PM, which features two 250 MWt reactors that will drive a single 210 MWe turbine, began in December 2012.

Cold functional tests - which aim to verify the reactor's primary loop system and equipment as well as the strength and tightness of its auxiliary pipelines under pressure higher than the design pressure - were completed at the HTR-PM's two reactors on 19 October and 3 November last year, respectively. Hot functional tests, which simulate the temperatures and pressures which the reactor systems will be subjected to during normal operation, started in January.

China's nuclear regulator, the National Nuclear Safety Administration, issued an operating licence for the HTR-PM on 20 August. The loading of the first spherical fuel elements into the first reactor started the following day. The first reactor of the HTR-PM reached first criticality on 12 September, with the second following on 11 November.

China Huaneng is the lead organisation in the consortium to build the demonstration unit (with a 47.5% stake), together with CNNC subsidiary China Nuclear Engineering Corporation (CNEC - 32.5%), and Tsinghua University's Institute of Nuclear and New Energy Technology (20%), which is the research and development leader. Chinergy, a joint venture of Tsinghua and CNEC, is the main contractor for the nuclear island.

A further 18 such HTR-PM units are proposed for the Shidaowan site. Beyond HTR-PM, China proposes a scaled-up version called HTR-PM600, which sees one large turbine rated at 650 MWe driven by some six HTR-PM reactor units. Feasibility studies on HTR-PM600 deployment are under way for Sanmen, Zhejiang province; Ruijin, Jiangxi province; Xiapu and Wan'an, in Fujian province; and Bai'an, Guangdong province.

Corrected: This article was corrected on 17 December to reflect that the HTR-PM plant had not yet actually been grid connected.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News