The eyes of the world are on China, as the country begins development of the very first commercial modular high-temperature gas-cooled reactor. This significant new power plant construction project is being undertaken by the Chinese government, which has assigned the task of building the reactor to Chinergy, a joint venture of Tsinghua Holding Co. Ltd. and the state-owned China Nuclear Engineering and Construction Corporation.
Chinergy has begun the process by selecting Intergraph’s SmartPlant 3D and SmartPlant® Enterprise power plant software as the core technology for project design and implementation requirements. “After an extensive evaluation of all traditional plant engineering, design and information and materials management applications, we felt the SmartPlant Enterprise suite of solutions would provide an open, modern platform for new systems and the next-generation of electric plant engineering and design,” said Frank Wu, CEO of Chinergy. “In addition, Intergraph’s experienced technical staff can help us better use their technology for the maximum benefit of this project,” he added.
"Currently in China, the pressurized water reactor is the priority reactor. Construction plans call for the high temperature gas-cooled reactors (HTR) to be used to supplement current nuclear power generation. This will be a significant addition to the program since the HTR’s absolute quantity is remarkably large,” he said.
Wu says China’s new HTR-10 (high temperature 10 megawatt reactor) will revolutionize nuclear power generation across the globe. The benefits of the pebble bed modular reactor are many, and with the opening of the new plant at Weihai in the Shandong Province in 2010, China will be the first country to commercially venture into this type of nuclear power plant design and technology.
“First and foremost, this generator will be the safest nuclear power plant ever designed and built,” said Wu. “The major safety issue regarding nuclear reactors lies in how to cool them efficiently, as they continue to produce heat even after shutdown. Gas-cooled reactors, on the other hand, don’t need additional safety systems like water-cooled reactors do, and they discharge surplus heat.
“Regions that are in the process of transforming from rural to industrial can start small, but add new modules as the area and its fuel demands grow,” said Wu. “We can provide them with modules one at a time, if needed. This lowers power plant construction costs, and the reactors will also be cheaper to operate as they grow, thanks to economies of scale in everything from staff to fuel supply,” he said.Construction of the $300 million plant should begin in spring 2007, with completion targeted for 2010. This streamlined nuclear plant construction timetable is also a first for the nuclear power industry, where designing and building generators usually take decades, rather than years.