China's experimental sodium-cooled nuclear power plant, a 65-megawatt prototype, has been up and running at full capacity for three days as of late last week.
The prototype is China's first fast neutron reactor that operates with a closed fuel cycle to make highly efficient use of uranium, which reduces waste.
The plant can make use of uranium-238, which is an underutilized uranium isotope, said Zhang Donghui, deputy chief engineer with the China Institute of Atomic Energy.
In theory, Zhang said, the isotope can be fully used as a fuel. In fast reactor conditions, the “utility ratio will reach 60 to 70 percent … still a considerable number,” Zhang said.
Before going for a fully commercial fast reactor plant, a larger prototype will be constructed, said the Secretary General of the China Atomic Energy Authority Liu Yongde.
“China has become one of the few countries that have fully mastered the core technologies in fast reactor design, construction, installation, test and operation,” Yongde said.
Fast reactors are expected to play a key role in China's nuclear power future, CRI reported.
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