First criticality for two Chinese reactors

Two new Chinese nuclear power units – Changjiang 1 and Yangjiang 3 – have moved closer to commissioning by achieving a sustained chain reaction for the first time. Both reactors are expected to begin operating later this year.

Unit 1 of the Changjiang nuclear power plant, under construction on China’s southern island province of Hainan, achieved first criticality at 3.39am today, China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) announced.

Initial approval for the Changjiang plant’s construction was granted by China’s National Developmental and Reform Commission in July 2008. Early site works began in December 2008. Construction of unit 1 began with the pouring of first concrete on 25 April 2010, while that for unit 2 was poured on 21 November 2010.

The loading of the 121 fuel assemblies into the core of Changjiang 1 – a 650 MWe CNP-600 pressurized water reactor – began on 26 August.

Changjiang 1 is scheduled to begin operating by the end of 2015, with unit 2 set to start up next year.

The plant, near Hoi Mei Tong village in China’s Hainan province, is being built as a joint venture between CNNC and China Huaneng Group, with shares split 51% and 49%, respectively. The plant will eventually comprise four units, with units 3 and 4 housing either CNP-650 or ACP-600 reactors. Construction of both those units is scheduled to begin by 2018.