Safeguards Challenges for Pebble-Bed Reactors (PBRs):Peoples Republic of China (PRC)

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The Peoples Republic of China (PRC) is operating the HTR-10 pebble-bed reactor (PBR) and is in the process of building a prototype PBR plant with two modular reactors (250-MW(t) per reactor) feeding steam to a single turbine-generator. It is likely to be the first modular hightemperature reactor to be ready for commercial deployment in the world because it is a highpriority project for the PRC. The plant design features multiple modular reactors feeding steam to a single turbine generator where the number of modules determines the plant output. The design and commercialization strategy are based on PRC strengths: (1) a ... continued below

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Forsberg, Charles W. & Moses, David Lewis November 1, 2009.

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The Peoples Republic of China (PRC) is operating the HTR-10 pebble-bed reactor (PBR) and is in the process of building a prototype PBR plant with two modular reactors (250-MW(t) per reactor) feeding steam to a single turbine-generator. It is likely to be the first modular hightemperature reactor to be ready for commercial deployment in the world because it is a highpriority project for the PRC. The plant design features multiple modular reactors feeding steam to a single turbine generator where the number of modules determines the plant output. The design and commercialization strategy are based on PRC strengths: (1) a rapidly growing electric market that will support low-cost mass production of modular reactor units and (2) a balance of plant system based on economics of scale that uses the same mass-produced turbine-generator systems used in PRC coal plants. If successful, in addition to supplying the PRC market, this strategy could enable China to be the leading exporter of nuclear reactors to developing countries. The modular characteristics of the reactor match much of the need elsewhere in the world. PBRs have major safety advantages and a radically different fuel. The fuel, not the plant systems, is the primary safety system to prevent and mitigate the release of radionuclides under accident conditions. The fuel consists of small (6-cm) pebbles (spheres) containing coatedparticle fuel in a graphitized carbon matrix. The fuel loading per pebble is small (~9 grams of low-enriched uranium) and hundreds of thousands of pebbles are required to fuel a nuclear plant. The uranium concentration in the fuel is an order of magnitude less than in traditional nuclear fuels. These characteristics make the fuel significantly less attractive for illicit use (weapons production or dirty bomb); but, its unusual physical form may require changes in the tools used for safeguards. This report describes PBRs, what is different, and the safeguards challenges. A series of safeguards recommendations are made based on the assumption that the reactor is successfully commercialized and is widely deployed.

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  • Report No.: ORNL/TM-2008/229
  • Grant Number: DE-AC05-00OR22725
  • DOI: 10.2172/969660 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 969660
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc935246

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  • November 1, 2009

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Nov. 13, 2016, 7:26 p.m.

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  • Nov. 21, 2016, 6:49 p.m.

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Forsberg, Charles W. & Moses, David Lewis. Safeguards Challenges for Pebble-Bed Reactors (PBRs):Peoples Republic of China (PRC), report, November 1, 2009; [Tennessee]. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc935246/: accessed November 16, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.