CFR-600 under construction (Credit: CNNC)China began construction work on 27 December on a second pool-type sodium-cooled CFR-600 fast reactor in Xiapu County, Fujian Province.

The CFR-600, also known as the Xiapu Fast Reactor Demonstration Project, is part of China's plan to establish a closed nuclear fuel cycle. The construction the first CFR-600 began at the end of 2017.

The fuel will be supplied by Russia’s fuel company TVEL (part of Rosatom) under a contract signed in 2019 with CNLY, a subsidiary of China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC). TVEL already supplies fuel for the China Experimental Fast Reactor (CEFR) at the China Institute of Atomic Energy (CIAE) in Beijing under a contract with China Nuclear Energy Industry Corporation.

CNNC said excavation work at the site of the second CFR-600 had begun a year ago. Since then, "the scale of engineering work, tight schedule, construction difficulties and other adverse conditions" have been overcome to achieve the planned goal”, the report said. “All builders will continue to work hard on the Fast Reactor Demonstration Project to fulfil the  “historic mission of making China a historic nuclear industrial power that contributes even more”, CNNC said in a statement.

Chinese research and development of fast reactors began in 1964.The 65MWt CEFR was designed by 2003 and built by Russia’s OKBM Afrikantov in cooperation with OKB GIDROPRESS, the NN Dollezhal Research & Development Institute of Power Engineering (Nikiet) and the Kurchatov Institute. CEFR, which achieved criticality in July 2010 and can generate 20MWe, was connected to the grid in July 2011. The core is 45 cm high and contains 150 kg of plutonium (98 kg of plutonium-239).

The CFR-600 Demonstration Fast Reactors  are the next step in  CIAE’s progrramme. The first reactor – Xiapu-1 – is expected to be online in 2023. The 1500MWt (600MWe) reactors, with a thermal efficiency of 41%, will use mixed oxide (mox) fuel with a burnup of 100GWd/t. They have two sodium coolant circuits producing steam at a temperature of 480 ° C. In future, the fuel will be metallic with a burnup of 100-120GWd/t. The breeding ratio is about 1.1 and the design life is 40 years. The design provides for active and passive shutdown systems and passive residual heat removal.

Photo: Construction is underway on the Chinese CFR-600 (Credit: CNNC)