Fuel loading begins at the first Hualong One reactor, China.

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The first fuel assembly was loaded into the reactor’s core of Hualong One in China, just after the issuance of the unit’s operating licence by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment. The China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) announced that the process of loading of the 177 fuel assemblies into the core of unit 5 at China’s Fuqing nuclear power plant had begun and that the Hualong One’s core design reduces the core power density and improves the design safety level. “In order to ensure the smooth progress of the first nuclear fuel loading of the world’s first Hualong One reactor, the construction team fully considered the difference in the layout and quantity of the core fuel components of the reactor, carried out the first batch of loading exercises, optimised the loading sequence, and ensured that the first reactor was installed,” CNNC announced.

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With the successful installation of the first group of fuel assemblies, the unit has entered the nuclear commissioning stage of the main system and is ready for completion, it added. China gave final approval for the construction of Fuqing units 5 and 6 that are both components of the reactor, in April 2015. The pouring of first concrete for Fuqing 5 began in May that year, marking the official start of construction of the unit. Construction of unit 6 began in December the same year. The inner dome of unit 5 was installed on the containment building in May 2017, with the outer dome installed in January 2018.

Hot testing at Fuqing 5 was completed on 2 March. These tests involved increasing the temperature of the reactor coolant system and carrying out comprehensive tests to ensure that coolant circuits and safety systems are operating as they should. Such testing simulates the thermal working conditions of the power plant and verifies that nuclear island and conventional equipment and systems meet design requirements. Fuqing 5 and 6 are scheduled to be completed this year and next respectively thus completing construction of the Hualong One reactor.