A prototype fuel assembly, China Fuel 3 (CF3), for use in China’s Hualong One reactor design completed its first irradiation test on 28 January,

China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) announced. The assembly had been loaded into the core of unit 2 of CNNC’s Qinshan NPP in Zhejiang province.

CNNC noted that, in accordance with international practice, following the design and manufacture of a new type of nuclear fuel assembly, the fuel must undergo irradiation tests in a reactor to validate its overall performance and to check the irradiation, corrosion and mechanical properties of the assembly.

Three Hualong One units are under construction in China – two at CNNC’s Fuqing NPP in Fujian province and the first of two units at China General Nuclear’s (CGN’s) Fangchenggang NPP in Guangxi province. In 2012 the government directed CNNC and CGN to ‘rationalise’ their reactor programmes. As a result, CNNC’s ACP1000 and CGN’s ACPR1000 designs were ‘merged’ into the standardised Hualong One design.

In December, CNNC and CGN agreed to create a 50-50 joint venture (JV) to promote the Hualong One in overseas markets. In October, CGN agreed to form a JV company with EDF Energy to seek regulatory approval for a UK version of the Hualong One design. In November, China and Argentina signed an agreement to build a Hualong One reactor as Argentina’s fifth nuclear power unit, but the new Argentinian government is currently reassessing its nuclear plans.