Thursday, September 22, 2016

Agreement signed for Joint Venture to build Advanced Fuel CANDU Reactor

About the AFCR™
The Advanced Fuel CANDU reactor (AFCR™) is a 700MW Class Generation III reactor based on the highly successful CANDU 6® and Enhanced CANDU 6® (EC6®) reactors with a number of adaptations to meet the latest Canadian and international standards. Its fuel flexibility allows it to use recycled uranium or thorium as fuel. It has a heavy-water moderator and heavy-water coolant in a pressure tube design. CANDU reactors can be refuelled on power and have one of the highest lifetime capacity factors among the world’s reactors.
News release from SNC-Lavalin 
MONTREAL, Sept. 22, 2016 /CNW Telbec/ - SNC-Lavalin (TSX: SNC) is pleased to announce it signed an agreement in principle for a new Joint Venture with China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) and Shanghai Electric Group Company Ltd. The new company would develop, market and build the Advanced Fuel CANDU Reactor (AFCR™). The creation of the joint venture in principle follows the signing of a framework agreement in 2014, and is subject to all government and regulatory approvals. 
The new company is expected to be registered in mid-2017, and would be followed by the formation of two design centres - one in Canada and another in China - to complete the AFCR™ technology. This could lead to construction of the world's first two AFCR™ in China, and possibly subsequent builds in China and around the world. 
Graphic from Candu: Advanced Fuel CANDU reactor (.pdf)
"This is a game changer in the nuclear industry, and a great endorsement of our expertise and CANDU nuclear technology from the largest nuclear market in the world," said Sandy Taylor, President, Power, SNC-Lavalin. "Each new build in China, and anywhere in the world, will benefit Canada in terms of job creation, innovation and nuclear research & development, environmental stewardship, and will contribute to reduce global carbon emissions." Canada's nuclear sector directly contributes to over $6 billion to the economy annually, employs more than 30,000 highly trained and specialized people, and creates an additional 30,000 jobs indirectly through contracting.
Graphic from SNC Lavalin news release
The market potential for AFCR™ technology in China is considerable. Each AFCR™ can use recycled-fuel from four light-water reactors (LWRs) to generate six million megawatt-hours (MWh) of additional carbon-free electricity without needing any new natural uranium fuel. This would be enough new electricity to power four million Chinese homes, and also displace six million tonnes of carbon emissions per year vs. coal, the equivalent of removing one million cars from the road. China has more than 33 LWR nuclear power reactors in operation and another 23 LWRs under construction.
"Recognized globally to deliver safe, reliable, affordable and low-carbon energy, each AFCRTMwould contribute to Canada's commitments within COP21: to increase accessibility, efficiency and affordability of clean nuclear energy," said Preston Swafford, Chief Nuclear Officer & Executive Vice-President, Nuclear, SNC-Lavalin.
My post in 2014 when the framework agreement was signed: Candu Energy sees promising future.

The AFCR and CANMOX, as a solution to the U.K.'s plutonium disposal/management issue may be hinted at in the "and anywhere in world" phrase in this new press release - or it may reference other planned traditional CANDU new builds, by China's nuclear industry, in Romania and Argentina. I discussed all of those in The new CANDU attitude, and agreements.

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Correction/note: the U.K. solution, to utilize CANMOX fuel, has an "Enhanced CANDU6 (EC6)" proposed - not an "Advanced Fuel CANDU reactor (AFCR). It's a different product from the one at the core of today's announcement (although the announcement does say the AFCR is based on both the successful CANDU6 (C6) and the design-stage EC6 

Donald Jones, P.Eng., retired nuclear industry engineer described the EC6 as a linguist would:
The Enhanced CANDU 6 (EC6) is just that, an enhanced CANDU 6
from Pedigree of the Enhanced CANDU 6 (EC6) proposed for Darlington B

More recently Mr. Jones wrote on characteristics of the reactor that may make it more appealing for service now: Enhanced CANDU 6 and NuScale SMR have capability to easily integrate wind and solar


POSTSCRIPTS

From Next Big Future:
Units 1 and 2 of the Qinshan Phase III nuclear power plant in China use the Candu 6 pressurized heavy water reactor technology, with Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) being the main contractor of the project on a turnkey basis.

The Candu 6 reactors should be modified to become full AFCRs.

The AFCR efficiently uses RU (recycled Uranium) from the spent fuel of LWR (light water reactors)
Current CANDU reactors, as a result of favorable reactor core physics characteristics and on-power fuelling, use approximately 30% less natural uranium per each kilowatt-hour of electricity as compared to PWR designs.

The AFCR uses advanced fuels specifically direct use of recycled uranium (DRU) fuel or low enriched uranium/thorium (LEU/Th) fuel. DRU fuel represents a gradual transition from NU-based fuels that are used in current CANDU 6 reactors. DRU fuel is similar to the already proven natural uranium equivalent (NUE) fuel in that it is composed of RU, from reprocessed pressurized water reactor (PWR) spent fuel but has a slightly higher fissile content (contains about 0.95%wt. 235U) than the NUE fuel.
From Sandy Taylor, SNC Lavalin President, Power:
Yesterday, I had the privilege of signing an agreement in principle of a joint venture. We plan to register the new company registered in mid-2017; it would design, build and market our Advanced Fuel CANDU Reactor (AFCR™) in China and internationally. This new partnership could bring affordable, clean nuclear energy to millions of people. 
image from SNC-Lavalin on Linkedin
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang attended the signing on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, Canada. Their presence shows a strong endorsement of our expertise and CANDU nuclear technology...
Canada would also benefit from this new joint venture. Every CANDU project puts dollars back into the pocket of the government through royalties. The Canadian design centre that will be formed after the Joint Venture’s registration is expected employ up to 300 people at its peak.

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