Canada's new reactor on course

As governments and utilities on both sides of the Atlantic look towards replacing and expanding nuclear capacity, Canada's ACR-700 reactor seems to have bright prospects. The type is developed from the well-proven Candu-6 which has been built by Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL) in Canada, China, South Korea, Romania and Argentina.

The ACR retains the heavy water moderation feature of its predecessors but substitutes light water for the cooling, has a much smaller core using low-enriched uranium, and runs at a higher temperature. It utilises several passive safety features. Units will be assembled from prefabricated modules, eventually cutting construction time to three years. Cost will be well below the Candu-6, though recent reactors of that type have been built under budget and ahead of schedule.

The ACR is moving towards design certification in Canada and the USA, as well as the UK. In the USA the design certification application is due to be lodged in 2005, and there is also a Combined Construction and Operating Licence (COL) application pending (see US story). Both should be issued then in 2008, while Canadian certification is expected earlier. Accordingly, AECL expects that the first units will be operating in Canada about 2012, and in the USA about 2013.

The new reactor will be put together from modules, and AECL anticipates having major components built in US shipyards, using a high degree of standardisation of components.

On the basis of its several recent Asian construction successes, AECL is projecting the lead unit cost at US$ 1255 per kilowatt, with later units under $1100/kWe. The ACR is designed to be built in pairs, and construction time is estimated at 44 months for the first unit reducing to 36 months for the fifth and subsequent ones. Such is the confidence of AECL that it plans to offer fixed price contracts to buyers.

A larger version of the type - the ACR-1000 - is under development, and beyond that AECL has the Candu-X on the drawing board - a supercritical reactor and step forward from the ACR which is expected to be available about 2020.

Zdroj: Nucleonics Week

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