China’s CAP1400—a reactor design based on Westinghouse’s AP1000 pressurized water reactor—has successfully passed the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA’s) Generic Reactor Safety Review.

The milestone is significant for China, which plans to deploy the advanced reactor design in large numbers (Figure 4) as well as export the technology.


4. On the nuclear horizon. An artist’s rendering of a future CAP1400 nuclear reactor facility. Courtesy: SNPTC

The IAEA’s review assesses the safety cases of new reactor designs that are not yet in the licensing stage against applicable IAEA safety standards.

According to China’s State Nuclear Power Technology Corp. (SNPTC), the 1,500-MWe (gross) reactor has a design life of 60 years and a design annual availability of more than 93%. Refueling would be needed every 18 months, and it has passive safety features, including a passive core cooling system, a passive containment cooling system, and a passive main control room habitability system. As designed, the company envisions construction would span about 56 months, though it is working to trim that to 48 months.

SNPTC says China has spent about $2 billion on research and development of the reactor. Among its major developers were Westinghouse, which provided design consultation; Lockheed Martin, which participated in the protection and safety monitoring system development; Ohio State University, which helped with test verification; and KSB and Curtiss-Wright’s Electro-Mechanical Division, which participated in the development of the reactor coolant pump.

—Sonal Patel, POWER associate editor.