The Unit 2 AP1000 Westinghouse-designed nuclear reactor at the Sanmen nuclear plant construction project in China is one step closer to completion as the State Nuclear Power Technology Company said that reactor had passed its cold hydrostatic testing on September 2.
The tests put the reactors coolant system under pressurized conditions to evaluate the integrity of the piping and pumps, including coolant pumps, looking for potential leaks and malfunctions.
Unit 1 at the plant completed cold hydrostatic testing in May of 2016, putting that unit a few months ahead of the Haiyang nuclear power plant's No. 1 unit in the Shandong province. Together, these are scheduled to be the first AP1000 advanced reactors to go on line. Unit 1 at the Sanmen construction site is expected to go online by the end of the year.
Within the next two weeks, technicians will begin to deploy robotic arms to load more than 100 fuel assemblies into the Unit 1 reactor at Sanmen.
The AP1000 is designed to be meltdown proof with a cooling system that is self-sustaining, deploying water that vaporizes and rises, then cools by itself within the system's plumbing and uses gravity to return to another cooling cycle.
The design is “a simple genius solution to reduce the risk of nuclear meltdown,” said nuclear scientist and author Shan Jianqiang as quoted by the South China Morning Post.
While work is nearing completion on several AP1000 units in China, the project at Sanmen has suffered delays, in part due to mid-stream redesigns of components and in part due to the March 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Generating Station.
Construction at Sanmen began in 2009 with the original completion date set for 2013.
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