Energy

41 Items

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Analysis & Opinions - The Nautilus Institute

China's Nuclear Spent Fuel Management and Nuclear Security Issues

| Nov. 10, 2017

In this essay, Hui Zhang reviews the status of spent fuel storage in China.  He suggest that China should take steps to improve physical protection, reduce insider threats, promote a nuclear security culture, and improve nuclear cyber security. He also recommends China, South Korea, and Japans’ nuclear security training centers should cooperate and exchange best practices on insider threat reduction, contingency plans for emergency response, and discuss regional cooperation for long-term spent fuel storage, including building a regional center of spent fuel storage.

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Paper

The History of Highly Enriched Uranium Production in China

| July 2017

China initiated its nuclear weapon program in 1955 and began to construct its fissile-material production facilities in the late 1950s. China has produced highly enriched uranium (HEU) for weapons at two complexes: Lanzhou gaseous diffusion plant (GDP, also referred as Plant 504) and Heping GDP (the Jinkouhe facility of Plant 814).

In 1958, China started the construction of the Lanzhou plant with advice from Soviet experts. Moscow withdrew all its experts in August 1960, however, forcing China to become self-reliant. On January 14, 1964, the GDP began to produce 90% enriched uranium, which made possible China’s first nuclear test on 16 October 1964.

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Paper

The History of Plutonium Production in China

| July 2017

China has produced plutonium for weapons at two sites: 1) Jiuquan Atomic Energy Complex (Plant 404) in Jiuquan, Gansu province. This site includes China’s first plutonium reactor (reactor 801) and associated reprocessing facilities. 2) Guangyuan plutonium production complex (Plant 821), located at Guangyuan in Sichuan province. This “third line” site also included a plutonium reactor (reactor 821) and reprocessing facility. While China has not declared officially that it has ended HEU and plutonium production for weapons, it appears that China halted its HEU and plutonium production for weapons in 1987.1

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Analysis & Opinions

Exclusive Interview: Future Prospects for China's Nuclear Energy Program

| March 2016

UxC's Jonathan Hinze, Executive Vice President, International, recently interviewed Dr. Hui Zhang, a respected Harvard University expert, regarding the current state and future prospects for China's nuclear energy program.

Dr. Zhang is a Senior Research Associate at the Project on Managing the Atom in the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. Dr. Zhang has deep knowledge and insights into all aspects of China's nuclear energy program.

Report - Managing the Atom Project, Belfer Center

The Cost of Reprocessing in China

| January 2016

Faced with the twin pressures of a still-quickly growing economy and unprecedented smog from coal-fired plants, China is racing to expand its fleet of nuclear power plants. As it does so, Beijing is considering making large capital investments in facilities to reprocess spent nuclear fuel and recycle the resulting plutonium in fast neutron reactors that breed more plutonium. This report outlines the enormous costs China would likely face if it decides to build large-scale plants for reprocessing plutonium from spent nuclear fuel and recycling the plutonium in fast neutron reactors.

Analysis & Opinions - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

China’s rapidly expanding centrifuge enrichment capacity

| December 7, 2015

"With the aftermath of the Iran agreement hanging in the air, words such as “centrifuge,” “enrichment,” and “uranium” are still appearing regularly in news coverage. Which means that now is a good time to look at the enrichment capacity of a much larger power, thousands of miles away: China. The country’s enrichment capacity is a topic about which little has appeared in the popular press—possibly because little is publicly known, and what information there is has to be assembled, verified, and evaluated from many different independent sources."

Analysis & Opinions - International Panel on Fissile Materials

China is said to be building a demonstration commercial reprocessing plant

| Sep. 25, 2015

"China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) is reported to have started preparations for what appears to be a demonstration reprocessing plant with a capacity of 200 tonnes/year at Jinta near Jiuquan city of Gansu province. This site is over one hundred kilometer away from China's pilot reprocessing plant (located at Plant 404, the former Jiuquan plutonium production complex), The new demonstration plant is assumed to be based on a scale-up of the pilot plant which has a capacity of 50 tons/year. Works seems to be at a very preliminary site preparation stage..."

Report - Managing the Atom Project, Belfer Center

China's Uranium Enrichment Capacity: Rapid Expansion to Meet Commercial Needs

| August 20, 2015

Based on satellite imagery, Chinese publications, and discussions with Chinese experts, This report suggests that China has much more civilian enrichment capacity than previously thought, and even more is on the way. If these new estimates are correct, China has enough enrichment capacity to meet its nuclear power fuel requirements for the coming decade and beyond. Further, China will have excess enrichment capacity and will likely become a net exporter of commercial enrichment services.

Analysis & Opinions - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Long-Term Ideal Versus Short-Term Reality

| May 6, 2015

"Baldev Raj and P.R. Vasudeva Rao have argued that reprocessing and fast breeder reactors are necessary for the long-term sustainability of nuclear power. Indeed, fast breeder reactors' potential to produce more fuel than they consume has held an attraction since the advent of nuclear power, especially to those who envision a time when uranium will no longer be available cheaply. Unfortunately, several decades of experience have shown that plutonium recycling systems are much more costly and much less reliable than water-cooled reactors. If establishing sustainable nuclear power means successfully managing important issues such as nuclear safety and proliferation resistance, while also achieving economic competitiveness, minimizing production of radioactive waste, and using natural resources wisely, breeder reactors and plutonium recycling still have far to go before they can meaningfully contribute..."