AECL, China to extend nuclear fuel resources

BEIJING, CHINA - Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) formalized an advanced nuclear fuel development agreement with China's Third Qinshan Nuclear Power Co. (TQNPC), China North Nuclear Fuel Corporation and Nuclear Power Institute of China.

The agreement is to jointly develop the technology for the use of uranium recovered from the spent fuel of light water reactors in China, and to be used in the CANDU reactors in China, located southwest of Shanghai. The planned development program will involve scientists and engineers from Canada and China but would not be implemented in Canada.

AECL's President & Chief Executive Officer Hugh MacDiarmid, visiting Beijing with a delegation of Canadian premiers and business leaders, noted that this demonstration project paves the way for China to secure fuel supply for up to 17,000 MW from its CANDU fleet by utilizing recovered uranium from spent fuel discharged by the 58,000 MW of light water reactors China plans to build by 2020.

"CANDU nuclear technology has the potential to make a major contribution to reducing China's dependence on imported nuclear fuel resources as it complements China's light water reactors, which produce the bulk of its nuclear power. We plan to follow this agreement with a similar program to demonstrate the CANDU reactor's capability to use China's abundant thorium resources."

This agreement follows closely on TQNPC's 5th anniversary ceremony celebrating the completion of the Qinshan Phase III CANDU nuclear power plant located southwest of Shanghai. Hailed by China's President Hu Jintao as a "model for Canada-China cooperation" and the largest infrastructure project ever undertaken between Canada and China, the Qinshan Phase III nuclear power plant incorporates two 728 MWe CANDU 6 PHWR reactors designed by AECL and built in cooperation with TQNPC.

Mr. MacDiarmid noted that thorium has been identified as possibly China's largest potential energy resource. "Demonstration of the use of thorium in CANDU reactors will not only mark a significant step towards China's quest for energy sustainability, but will also be of great interest in many other countries, including Canada."

AECL has investigated thorium fuels for over 45 years, including tests in a prototype CANDU power reactor in Canada, with very promising results.


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