Rethinking Chinese Policy on Commercial Reprocessing

| March 18-23, 2012

By 2011 China is operating fourteen nuclear power reactors with installed capacity of 11.88 GWe, and it plans to increase its total nuclear capacity to 70 GWe by 2020. China is seeking to reprocess the civilian spent fuel, and to recycle the plutonium in MOX fuel for its fast breeder reactors. A pilot reprocessing plant with a capacity of 50tHM/a conducted successfully a hot test in December 2010. Meanwhile, China is building a pilot MOX fuel fabrication facility with 0.5 t/a. A larger commercial reprocessing plant and a MOX fabrication plant are expected to be in commission around the year 2025. The China Experimental Fast Reactor (25 MWe) started operation in July 2010. Furthermore, larger commercial FBRs are planned to be commissioned around 2030-2035. This paper will discuss the status of China’s nuclear power reactors, breeders, and civilian reprocessing programs. In addition, this paper will examine whether the breeders and civilian reprocessing programs make sense for China, taking into account costs, proliferation risks, energy security tradeoffs, health and environmental risks, and spent fuel management issues.

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For Academic Citation: Zhang, Hui. “Rethinking Chinese Policy on Commercial Reprocessing.” Presentation, March 18-23, 2012. (presented at 18th Pacific Basin Nuclear Conference, Busan, South Korea).