Westinghouse Electric Company has completed preparatory work on fuel for its AP1000 nuclear power plants and manufactured the first four fuel assemblies at the company’s Columbia Fuel Fabrication Facility (CFFF) in South Carolina. This fuel will be used at Sanmen Unit 1, located in the Zhejiang Province of China.

The AP1000 pressurized water reactor (PWR) fuel design uses ‘Robust Fuel Assembly’ technology, which is already in widespread use in Westinghouse-designed plants. The AP1000 fuel incorporates features to better protect the fuel from coolant debris, improve seismic performance and deliver highly efficient operational performance.

A team comprising more than 100 people across three Westinghouse sites in the U.S. (Columbia S.C., Blairsville, Pa. and Monroeville, Pa.) has been involved in the AP1000 PWR fuel verification program, which began in 2006. The program took the preliminary AP600/AP1000 fuel design through a comprehensive test and manufacturing development program. All AP1000 PWR component manufacturing was qualified or requalified using advanced supplier quality standards. Upgrades worth $16 million at the CFFF also were implemented.

Sanmen is the site of two Westinghouse AP1000 PWR units that are being built under a contract signed in 2007 for four AP1000 PWRs. Two other AP1000 PWRs are currently under construction at Haiyang, China. The first of the four units, Sanmen Unit 1, is on schedule to come online in 2013, with each unit thereafter subsequently coming online approximately six months later. Additionally, Westinghouse and China are currently in discussion on plans for more AP1000 units to be sited inland of China’s coastal areas.

The Sanmen and Haiyang sites have been designated for six AP1000 units each and three further multi-unit sites at Xianning, Taohuajiang and Pengze have been prepared in China. Six other AP1000 units are on order in the United States (Southern Company’s Vogtle 3 & 4, South Carolina Electric & Gas’ Summer 2 & 3 and Progress Energy’s Levy County Units 1 & 2) and interest has been expressed in building AP1000 plants across Asia, Europe, South America and Africa.