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World's first 4th-generation nuclear power plant

Reporter: Meng Qingsheng 丨 CCTV.com

04-03-2016 05:56 BJT

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China has stepped up its efforts to commercially utilize a fourth-generation nuclear reactor. At a coastal town in east China, a high-temperature, gas-cooled reactor is being constructed. It's claimed to be the safest in the country. The project has been designed to merge high efficiency and output, with minimum radiation leakage. CCTV reporter visited the plant and filed this exclusive report.

Shidao Bay, on the eastern tip of the Shandong Peninsula. A nuclear power plant, using fourth generation technology, is taking shape. It's China's first with independent intellectual property rights. He Yunsheng began his career in the nuclear industry in 1985. Now he is in charge of this national pilot program.

"An obvious feature of the 4th generation nuclear reactor is the intrinsic safety of the fuel elements, which are covered by silicon carbide particles,"

"It will not result in radiation leakage because of the passive cooling system. Unlike the second and third generation reactors, the fourth will not experience a nuclear meltdown," said He Yunsheng, General Manager of Huaneng Shandong Shidao Bay Nuclear Power Plant.

Construction of the Shidao Bay Power Plant started in December, 2012. With a designed capacity of 200 megawatts, it will start generating power by the end of 2017. The design involves two reactors and steam generators, and one turbine generator.

"Generation Four nuclear technology can enhance power generation efficiency, and is much safer,"

"Its multi-functional nature will further increase the proportion of clean energy in China. It can also bring power generation to public heating services," said He.

The reactor is gas-cooled using helium. This removes heat from fuel pebbles in the reactor's core and starts the steam generators.

This is the core of the high-temperature gas-cooled nuclear reactor. Once completed, over 400 thousand fuel pebbles like this will be put inside to produce a temperature as high as 750 degrees Celsius. The design involves four protection layers to avoid radiation leakage.

He Yunsheng says Chinese scientists have worked on the reactor's safety features since the 1970s. However, even with the current high standards, he believes there's still room for improvement.

"The main challenge is to improve its economic efficiency. What we are now doing is a pilot program. More efforts should be done in the near future to optimize the design so that we can compete with others types of nuclear power plants. I believe we have that potential," said He Yunsheng.

The whole project at Shidao Bay is estimated to be completed in 2024 when the plant's capacity will be 40 times higher than that of next year.

By then, Mr. He will be approaching retirement. After a lifetime of work in the nuclear industry, he says his only hope is that the technology continues to be used safely.

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