China develops container for fast reactor used fuel

19 December 2023

The China Institute of Atomic Energy (CIAE) has received a certificate for the design of a transport and packaging container (TPC) for used nuclear fuel from large fast reactors. The container has a multilayer design. One layers is a buffer made of porous aluminium foam alloy. The design also contains layers of lead and uses boron-containing resins. The development of the container project took two years. A full-scale 100-tonne container prototype has been tested in the presence of specialists from the Chinese Institute of Radiation Protection. CIAE has also produced China’s first  large tonnage vacuum lead casting bench and a special boron-containing silicone resin pouring bench to meet the lead and boron-containing resin casting needs of large used fuel transport containers.  

CIAE noted that the container took two years from conceptual design to obtaining design licence approval, "setting a new record for the development cycle of large used fuel transport containers in China". Moreover, receiving the design licence "signifies that China has fully mastered all key technologies for used fuel transport containers for large fast reactors, breaking the long-term dependence on imports of this type of transport container".

Fast reactors are planned to become the predominant reactor-type in China by mid-century. Construction of the CFR-600 sodium-cooled pool-type fast breeder reactor in Xudabao, Fujian Province began at the end of 2017. Commissioning is expected in the near future. Construction of the second unit began in December 2020. The reactor will generate 1,500 MWt and 600 MWe. CIAE is already operating the Chinese Experimental Fast Reactor (65 MWt and 20MWe) built with Russian assistance, which was launched in 2010. The CFR-600 units are to be followed by a CFR-1000 for commercial operation from 2030.

Image: The prototype container (courtesy of CIAE)

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