China has 20 nuclear power plants under construction, more than any other country on earth. With Sanmen, the industry is hoping to get the nod to build more reactors at home, and even export the AP1000 technology.
At a small peninsula facing the East China Sea in Sanmen county in Zhejiang province sits the world’s most advanced nuclear reactor, and China’s clarion call to the clean energy industry.
Some day over the next two weeks, the power plant will start loading more than 100 fuel assemblies into the honeycomb core of its AP1000 reactor with a pair of robotic arms, people at the site said.
The arms will move at a snail’s pace, not only because each assembly costs more than 10 million yuan, but their fine metal rods hold millions of thumb-size uranium pallets which together can emit enough heat for more than one gigawatt of electricity, enough to power Tibet’s entire grid.
Many people are waiting with bated breath for Sanmen to go online, because the AP1000 “is a simple, genius solution to reduce the risk of nuclear meltdown,” said Xi’an Jiaotong University’s nuclear science professor Shan Jianqiang, the author of several university texts on reactor safety and operation. The commencement of Sanmen “can be a shot to the arm for the nuclear industry, which has been mired in trouble at home and abroad,” he said.
The AP1000, designed and made by Toshiba Corp’s Westinghouse Electric subsidiary, is equipped with an overhead water tank that can flush the reactor’s core and keep it cool even if every water pump ceases to function in a blackout. Hot water would rise as vapour, dissipating energy from the core’s chain reaction through a heat exchanger into the atmosphere, condense and return to the tank. As long as there is gravity, the cycle would continue without human intervention.
In plain language, the reactor is designed to be meltdown-proof.
Compared with current technology, the AP1000 reactor is theoretically 100 times safer, requires 80 per cent less piping, 85 per cent fewer control cables, and need a third fewer pumps.
Full Article here. China pips US to start world’s first meltdown