China has attained the ability to mass produce spent nuclear fuel shipping containers thanks to recent achievements by China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC), according to media reports.
The milestone was marked by the prototype unit of "Longzhou-CNSC" shipping containers of spent nuclear fuel, a national-level major scientific and technological project led and researched by CNNC.
The containers have passed the initial tests and can begin mass production on Wednesday, according to a post on the website of CNNC.
CNNC's success fills a technology gap in China and breaks the foreign monopoly in this area, the Beijing-based Science and Technology Daily newspaper reported on Sunday.
The CNNC project can carry 21 sets of spent nuclear fuel assemblies, and Xi'an Nuclear Equipment Co is the manufacturer, the report said.
According to transport regulations and provisions developed by the International Atomic Energy Agency, shipping containers have to be tested under hypothetical accidental conditions.
CNNC has built a testing platform for digital simulation and experimental verification, an industry insider told the Science and Technology Daily.
"The workload in the design stage was immense. For instance, one of the simulations required 24-hour nonstop calculations for one week," Wang Qing, project manager in the research and development team, was quoted saying in the report.
The development and manufacturing project for the shipping containers involves a series of sub-projects, including containers for new fuel and spent nuclear fuel.
These containers cover all fuel models related to transportable experimental reactors and pressurized water reactors and other new types of nuclear fuel, the report noted.
Under China's long-term nuclear development plan, by 2020, installed nuclear power capacity is expected to reach 58 million kilowatts, with spent nuclear fuel standing at more than 7,000 tons. The amount of spent fuel is expected to double by 2025, according to the report.
The project was launched in 2009 and contracted to CNNC in December 2010 by the National Energy Administration.