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China's new n-reactor to be more fuel efficient

The development of China's new nuclear reactor which could increase utilisation of fuel up to 70 percent succeeded in a critical test yesterday.

world Updated: Jul 22, 2010 14:05 IST

The development of China's new nuclear reactor which could increase utilisation of fuel up to 70 percent succeeded in a critical test on Wednesday.

The experimental fast reactors that run on mostly domestically-designed fourth-generation technology differ from others in that they are able to utilise uranium fuel in a more optimal way so as to reduce the overall energy costs significantly.

According to China Daily, the new technology will lift uranium usage ratio to as high as 70 percent from the existing one percent. In the long run, it will also considerably reduce the nation's reliance on foreign fuel imports.

"The fast reactor will extend China's utilisation of proven and verified uranium resources to 1,000 years from less than 100 years through the existing pressurised water reactors," said Zhang Donghui, general manager of the fast reactor programme.

The reactor has been set up with an investment of 2.5 billion yuan ($369 million) and China is the eighth country to successfully master the technology.

"This is a significant step in China's nuclear program," said Zhao Zhixiang, dean of China Institute of Atomic Energy.

Yan Qiang, a researcher with Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences, said China currently produces around 750 tonnes of uranium. Its demand-supply gap is expected to exceed 10,000 tonnes by 2015 and reach nearly 30,000 tonnes by 2030.

With the bulk of the nuclear power likely to be used for meeting the nation's power needs, demand for the clean energy is also expected to surge, said Yan.

China plans to set up 60 new nuclear reactors and have a nuclear power productivity of around 75 million kilowatts by 2020. The country is also constructing 23 machine sets to harness nuclear power, the largest among the 57 such sets in the world, the daily said.

The country is likely to double its uranium purchases to around 5,000 tonnes this year to build stockpiles for new reactors, said Thomas Neff, a physicist and uranium-industry analyst at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.