The CFR600 nuclear reactor is being constructed in Xiapu, China. Image courtesy of China National Nuclear Corporation.
The TEVEL Fuel Company of Rosatom will supply nuclear fuel for the CFR600 nuclear reactor.

The CFR600 (China Fast Reactor-600) nuclear reactor pilot project is under construction in Xiapu, Fujian province, China. It represents the second step in fast reactor development in China following the success of the China Experimental Fast Reactor (CEFR), which was connected to the grid in July 2010.

Designed by China Institute of Atomic Energy, the CFR600 is a prototype sodium-cooled pool-type fast reactor capable of generating 1,500MW of thermal power and 600MW of electric power. The reactor design aims at achieving a thermal efficiency of 40%.

Construction of the experimental nuclear power plant was started after China Nuclear Industry 23 Construction was awarded the tender for installing the nuclear island at Xiapu in December 2017.

Scheduled for commissioning in 2023, the CFR-600 pilot project is expected to pave way for the development and commercialization of CFR-1000 reactors in China by 2030.

It will help China to achieve the national goal of generating 25% of its electricity from nuclear energy sources by 2050.

CFR-600 prototype reactor project background

The pre-conceptual design of CFR-600 was started in August 2012, after the successful integration of the sodium-cooled 65MWt CEFR in 2010.

China Institute of Atomic Energy completed the primary design of the CFR-600 in 2014, while the first concrete for the pilot project was poured in December 2017.

CFR-600 reactor technology

The prototype CFR-600 reactor is a sodium-cooled pool-type fast-neutron reactor with a capacity of 600MW. The medium-sized fourth-generation advanced nuclear reactor will feature two coolant loops and is designed to operate at 380°C and 550°C of inlet and outlet core temperatures, respectively.

The CFR-600 nuclear reactor will also feature design flexibility to use two fuel types. The reactor will be first loaded with uranium oxide (UO2) and then converted to run on mixed oxide (MOX) fuel. The breeding ratio of the reactor will be 1:2.

The CFR-600 demonstration fast neutron reactor is anticipated to increase the utilization rate of natural uranium resources from the current one percent to more than 60 percent.

The instrumentation and control systems of the reactor will be digitized and optimized based on the data collected from its predecessor, the China Experimental Fast Reactor system.

The reactor vessel, main vessel, and protection vessel designs will follow the ones used in the CEFR.

Safety features of the CFR-600

The CFR-600 reactor will be equipped with active and passive emergency shutdown systems and passive decay heat removal system. Control rods will be used for reactivity control, while the core catcher will prevent melting of the nuclear core in the event of any accidents.

The core catcher will function as a cooling compartment, which will keep the melting material sub-critical and provide long-term cooling of the reactor core. The passive residue heat removal system will help remove excess heat from the reactor core, post-accident.

Fuel supply for the CFR-600

CNLY, a subsidiary of China National Nuclear Corporation, signed an agreement with TEVEL Fuel Company of Russia’s state-owned Rosatom State Atomiс Energy Corporation (ROSATOM) for the supply of nuclear fuel for CFR-600, in January 2019.

The agreement covers initial fuel loading as well as supplies for refueling during the first seven years of the reactor’s operations.

The CFR-600 fuel assemblies are planned to be manufactured at TVEL’s production facility in Elektrostal, Moscow.