​Chinese HTR-PM Demo begins commercial operation

Following a 168-hour demonstration run, HTR-PM (High Temperature gas-cooled Reactor Pebble-bed Module) Demo in Shidao Bay, Shandong Province of China, the world’s first modular high temperature gas-cooled reactor nuclear power plant, entered commercial operation on December 6, China’s National Energy Administration (NEA) has announced.

The plant consists of two HTR-PM reactor modules and a common steam turbine. The construction permit was issued, and the first concrete was poured on December 9, 2012. The operation permit was granted on August 20, 2021, and the plant was connected to the grid on December 20, 2021. It is operating at 2×200MWt power currently. The plant employs more than 2,200 sets of first-of-a-kind equipment, and more than 660 sets of innovative equipment. The supporting fuel element production line has the largest production capacity in the world.

The HTR-PM Demo project is a collaborative effort of Tsinghua University as a technical leader, responsible for R&D and main components and systems design, China Huaneng Group Co. as the owner and operator of the plant, and China National Nuclear Co. (CNNC) as the Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) contractor and the fuel manufacturer. Professor Zhang Zuoyi, the director of Institute of Nuclear and New Energy Technology (INET), Tsinghua University, is the chief scientist and chief engineer of the project.

HTR-PM is a Generation IV nuclear energy technology and a Small Modular Reactor. Two safety demonstration tests were conducted on the two reactor modules, each at a power of 200MWt, on August 13 and September 1, respectively. The normal energy transfer driven by power was stopped during the tests. The measured nuclear power and temperatures within the different reactor structures, described how the reactors were naturally cooled down, without human intervention or emergency core cooling systems. The tests confirmed that commercial-scale reactors could be cooled down naturally without emergency core cooling systems for the first time in the world. It is the so-called inherently safe reactor.

The major purpose of HTR-PM is to co-generate high temperature steam up to 500℃ and electricity. It is currently cost-effective in the Chinese market to supply steam and electricity for the petrochemical industry to substitute the burning of natural gas and coal. This breakthrough technology is recognized to play a positive role in optimizing energy structure and achieving China’s "dual carbon" goal. Several commercial projects are under preparation in China.

Editor: Li Han

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