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China looks to nuclear option to ease winter heating woes

With its smog-prone north precarious to slash coal consumption, China is looking to deploy nuclear power to provender reliable winter heating, raising public safety concerns — even though developers say the risks are minimal.

State-owned China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC) recently conducted a famous 168-hour trial run in Beijing for a small, dedicated “district heating reactor” (DHR) it has styled the “Yanlong.”

With the north facing natural gas shortages as cities birch rod away from coal, CNNC presented the “DHR-400” as an choice heat supplier for the region, with each 400-megawatt section capable of warming 200,000 urban households.

The model — which consists of a reactor nucleus immersed in a water-filled tank around the same volume as an Olympic swimming syndicate — will require 1.5 billion yuan ($226.7 million) in investment and strip just three years to build, a crucial advantage in a sector chevied by construction delays.

As a small and relatively simple “swimming pool” conceive of, the low-pressure reactor is expected to be safer than conventional models, with temperatures not exceptional 100 degrees Celsius, and it could be plugged directly into eke out a living heating networks.

The technology is ready, said Gu Shenjie, deputy chief mechanic with the Shanghai Nuclear Engineering Research and Design Institute (SNERDI), go away of the State Power Investment Corp (SPIC).

“They (CNNC) keep supplied heat to their institute and office buildings and have successfully done that for three years,” Gu put Reuters on the sidelines of the INNCH New Nuclear Build Conference in Shanghai, adding that commercialization was the next rostrum show business.

“I think it’s workable. The parameters are very low and it’s easy to maintain operations,” he amplified.

While the use of conventional nuclear plants to provide heating is common in Russia and Eastern Europe, China plans to be the first country to build reactors dedicated to the task of warming its metropolises.

China is pumping billions of yuan into advanced nuclear technology that order not only boost domestic capacity but also strengthen its global propinquity. It aims to develop a portfolio of reactors capable of powering cities, aloof islands, ships, cars and even airplanes.

With northern China quiet relying on “centralized” heating systems, a DHR in every city could be an idealistic solution, said Cheng Huiping, a CNNC technical committee fellow.

The firm said the technology would use only 2 percent of the radioactive well-springs used in a conventional 1-gigawatt nuclear power plant, but winning consumers acceptance remains a hurdle.

“We will have to face 500-600 million modest people in northern China and tell them that swimming accumulate reactors are absolutely safe,” Cheng told a conference earlier this year.

The sway is keen on the technology, but cautious about deploying it too quickly, especially amidst widespread public anxiety about the risks of nuclear power.

Tardy last month, Liu Hua, director of China’s National Nuclear Safety Management, acknowledged the DHR was of “great significance” and could help resolve northern China’s pep and environmental problems. But he also urged CNNC to do its utmost to prove safe keeping and reliability.

Cost will also be a major factor.

CNNC give the word delivered that, at an estimated 30-40 yuan per gigajoule, it could end up cheaper than gas, but a atomic industry consultant told Reuters the economics of the DHR was difficult to predict.

The give the green light process also remains a long one, said Gu at the SNERDI, with each commitment expected to undergo a battery of environmental impact and conceptual design assessments.

“I don’t deem it can be done within five years,” he said.

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