Nuclear bonds: Russia supplies fuel for China Experimental Fast Reactor

A subsidiary of Russia’s state nuclear corporation – Rosatom – has supplied its first batch of nuclear fuel to the China Experimental Fast Reactor. The company statement said that the fuel which has been supplied is under a contract between TVEL, a subsidiary of the Rosatom, and the Chinese Experimental Fast Reactor, and also the China Institute of Atomic Energy. CEFR is used for research purposes, though it is also under operation within a power unit of 20MW, which supplies electricity to the grid. The International Atomic Energy Agency has classified as the only fast power reactor outside of Russia.

As part of this project, Russia and China aim to construct a demonstration reactor called CFR-600, in the Chinese province of Fujian. They have said that they supply fuel to the VVER-1000 powered units of Tianwan NPP, with the localized fabrication of the VVER-1000 fuel under license at the Yibin plant. This plant is also supplied with fuel which is made in Russia, according to Oleg Grigoriyev, the senior vice president for commerce and international business at TVEL.

He also said that fuel contracts are being negotiated for the new VVER-1200 power units which will be located in China, and will be constructed by Rosatom. The cooperation in the field of fast reactor technologies, which included fuel cycle, is of great strategic importance since its goal is to create dual component nuclear power systems in the near future.

Both Russia and China have been strengthening ties in the nuclear energy sector. Rosatom has been building nuclear units for the power plant in Tianwan, which is one of the largest projects of economic cooperation. The first two of all the new units which have the capacity of 1000MW were launched in 2007. The third unit began its operations in 2017, and the reactor at the most recently opened fourth unit was launched at its minimum capacity in September 2018, after fuel loading was concluded ahead of the estimated schedule.

As part of this project which is being hailed the largest ever deal between the two superpowers, the construction of two Russian VVER which are 1200 units and worth $1.7 billion is potentially on the cards in China’s nuclear power plant at Xudabo.


Howard Gonzales

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