GEA Heat Exchangers is providing two cooling towers of record-breaking dimensions for China’s first inland nuclear plant, at Taohuajiang, Hunan province, 20 km from the city of Yiyang (population 4.5 million).

Each tower will have a base diameter of 160 m, believed to be the largest for any cooling tower to date, with a height of 200 m and throughput of 46.65 m3 per second (167940 m3 per hour). Key components of the cooling towers include: cooling fills with a total exchange surface of more than 45 000 000 m2 per tower; sprayers (to provide an even water distribution); and drift eliminators.

The towers will provide cooling to two power plants to be equipped with Westinghouse (Toshiba) AP1000 reactors, rated at 1250 MW each (which have been recently adopted as the standard plant for China’s inland nuclear power stations).

All China’s nuclear power reactor projects to date have been located on the coast, employing seawater for cooling and not requiring cooling towers. But with China’s ambitious future nuclear expansion aspirations a significant number of inland nuclear units are now planned, with Taohuajiang the lead site.

Developed by the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), the power plant design for Taohuajiang has been done by the East China Electric Design Institute. As the artist’s impression (above) shows a second stage of the project is planned, with the addition of two more AP1000 reactors, and two more cooling towers.

Beijing GEA Energietechnik Co Ltd is responsible for the overall design of the complete cooling tower, with GEA Energietechnik GmbH in Germany acting as subcontractor to jointly execute the order.

GEA Energietechnik in Germany is responsible for the total engineering and co-ordination of the civils and hydraulics, while Beijing GEA Energietechnik will carry out the detailed hydraulic engineering and is also responsible for delivery, erection and commissioning.

GEA is no stranger to setting new standards in the cooling tower business. The GEA-supplied natural draft cooling tower at the Isar II nuclear power plant in Germany (above right) still holds what is thought to be the world record when it comes to water throughput, 216 000 m3 per hour. It has been in operation for more than 20 years. GEA is currently installing an additional, smaller, cooling tower at the Isar site to help the plant meet peak loads during the summer while at the same time satisfying increasingly stringent environmental requirements.

GEA Heat Exchangers ( is a newly created entity, formed with the aim of facilitating a closer relationship with customers and reducing organisational complexity. All the heat exchanger activities of GEA Group Aktiengesellschaft are now gathered together in this newly formed segment of the company, including applications in the energy and food sectors worldwide, with a comprehensive portfolio of technologies including plate heat exchangers, indirect and direct dry cooling systems, condensing systems and cooling towers.