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Scientists there have reported successfully testing the country’s first so-called ‘fourth generation’ reactor.

Zhang Donghui, general manager of the China Experimental Fast Reactor (CEFR) project, said: “The CEFR is safer, more environment-friendly, and more economic than its predecessors.”

While China remains largely reliant on coal for its electricity generation, it has a growing number of nuclear power stations.

At present, the country’s energy generation is made up 70% from coal, 18% from hydro, 10% from gas and 2% nuclear.

Its existing 11 nuclear reactors supplying power to the grid are all second-generation and based mainly in the industrialised Guandong and Zhenjiang provinces.

Construction is underway on a number of reactors using third-generation pressurised water reactors employing technology developed in the USA in 2009.

State-owned news service Xinhua said that the fourth generation reactor, known as the China Experimental Fast Reactor (CEFR), marked a breakthrough for the country’s nuclear technology.

While the jury is still out on the environmental credentials of nuclear energy, the fourth generation plant performs better than most.

CEFR boasts a utility rate of uranium of more than 60% compared to third generation reactors, which have a utility rate of just one per cent.

A new recycling technology called pyroprocessing is also used to close the fuel cycle by separating the unused fuel from most of the radioactive waste.

David Gibbs

© Faversham House Ltd 2022 edie news articles may be copied or forwarded for individual use only. No other reproduction or distribution is permitted without prior written consent.

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