Fuel despatched for China's CFR-600 fast neutron reactor

30 September 2022

The first batch of nuclear fuel has been dispatched to China for the CFR-600 sodium-cooled pool-type fast-neutron nuclear reactor at Xiapu in China's Fujian province.

CFR-600 fuel elements (Image: Rosatom)

Two more shipments are due to follow this year from Elemash Machine-building plant, Rosatom’s TVEL fuel company said, which will cover the initial load of the reactor core and the first refueling.

Construction of unit 1 of what is also known as the Xiapu fast reactor demonstration project began in 2017. It is part of China's plan to achieve a closed nuclear fuel cycle. China National Nuclear Corporation announced in December 2020 that construction work had begun on a second unit at the plant.

The aim has been for the first unit to be grid connected around 2023. The reactors will be 1500 MWt, 600 MWe, with 41% thermal efficiency, using mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel with 100 GWd/t burn-up, and with two sodium coolant loops producing steam at 480°C. Later fuel will be metal with burn-up 100-120 GWd/t. Breeding ratio is about 1.1, design operational lifetime 40 years. The design has active and passive shutdown systems and passive decay heat removal.

The Elemash plant’s CFR-600 fuel fabrication facility was launched in 2021 and late last year mock-ups of control and protection system assemblies for the CFR-600 were shipped to the customer for testing of the simulation reactor core, Rosatom said. In addition to the reactor in China, there are BN-600 and BN-800 sodium-cooled fast reactors at Beloyarsk nuclear power plant in the Urals region of Russia.

"The project of fuel fabrication for CFR-600, lasting for already three years, has been a unique task for us in terms of complexity … TVEL has proved it is capable of solving outstanding tasks and being flexible for the customer’s requirements and we definitely see a great potential for the further development of our cooperation with the Chinese partners," said Oleg Grigoriyev, Senior Vice President for Commerce and International Business at TVEL Fuel Company.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News