In 2018, China will begin to transform its thermal power plants into nuclear power plants.
Global warming is the reality of today. Most scientists agree that the main cause of warming is anthropogenic emissions of "greenhouse" gases into the atmosphere. These include carbon dioxide, methane, water vapor. Most of all, global warming is affected by carbon dioxide, which is emitted in large quantities by industrial enterprises, automobiles and households. Of course, the maximum amount of gas is generated by industrialized countries.
At the same time, some countries try to use the intensive development path instead of the extensive one, while maintaining the level of CO 2 emissions.into the atmosphere with increasing levels of industry production. At the same time, other states have little control over emissions. These include India and China, countries with extensive economies that emit more and more pollutants into the atmosphere, lithosphere and hydrosphere. Not so long ago, China presented a plan to transform its coal-fired power plants into nuclear power plants, nuclear power plants with a special type of reactor.
The pilot project will be launched in 2018, just then the Chinese are going to show a prototype of the new station. According to Chinese experts, the conversion of coal-fired thermal power plants to nuclear power plants will allow the country to radically reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere. Of course, this project has opponents reminiscent of Chernobyl, Fukushima and other less well-known nuclear power plants, where accidents have occurred with emissions of radioactive materials.
The Chinese do not react yeton warnings, realizing their intention to obtain a large number of nuclear power plants. Information about the project was voiced by Professor Zhen Zhu (Zhang Zuoyi) at a conference on energy. The scientist said that China will gradually abandon the burning of coal, removing old equipment from thermal power plants and replacing it with new. NPPs will be equipped with high-temperature gas-cooled nuclear reactors (HTGRs).
Not all coal-fired power stations will be modernized, but only those that work with very hot steam. Only such stations will be able to withstand the usual temperatures for high-temperature gas-cooled nuclear reactors.
Scientists have decided to focus on a specific type of reactor., where nuclear fuel is divided into micro-fuel pellets, embedded in areas of the size of a baseball. The outer layers in such areas are graphite and ceramics. These layers do the work of the neutron moderator. In general, the processes occurring in such systems, similar to the processes occurring in classical reactors with large-sized fuel cells.
Hundreds of such balloons are placed in a tank, where gas is released, in our case - helium. This gas absorbs the heat generated by the balls and transfers the heat to the coolant. The Chinese use the traditional scheme, where heat is sent to the boiler to heat the water. And only then water vapor is fed to the turbine, rotating it. As a result, mechanical energy is converted by the generator into electrical energy. In this case, the gas practically does not tolerate radiation contamination, which makes it possible to speak of reactors of this type as relatively “clean”. In addition, helium in such conditions does not condense and does not evaporate, so the reactors are protected from an explosion much better than those where other substances are used as a coolant.
Chinese experts claim that reactors using radioactive balls are protected from accidents even in the event of a cascade failure. Failures of this type have caused the most famous accidents in history. The structure of the reactor and the station of a new type is simple, there are really unlikely accidents with radiation leakage as a result of a catastrophe.
The relative cost of different types of energy per kilowatt
There are, however, and cons. The fact is that such reactors are expensive to manufacture, they turned out to be even more expensive than the project team expected. Accordingly, under normal conditions, it will also be expensive to get electricity - about 1.5 times more expensive than solar energy and 4 times more expensive than energy produced at a thermal power plant with natural gas. But in China, according to the developers, there is an opportunity to massively produce such reactors and fuel “balls”, so the price incorporated in the project can be easily divided into two.
In addition, the new reactors will allow the Chinese government to kill not even two, but three birds with one stone. This is energy production, the ability to comply with international standards on emissions of pollutants into the atmosphere and, finally, the purification of atmospheric air. The problem here is only the cost of the stations that China is likely to be able to solve.
Despite the fact that new-type reactors are safer, representatives of various states have already expressed concern about China’s plans to develop the nuclear industry. And the problem is not that radioactive substances can fall into the wrong hands (although this too). Despite the pressure of the international community, China is not retreating from its plans to begin replacing thermal power plants with nuclear power plants. Who knows, maybe this country will be able to prove that nuclear power plants can be safe, practical and technically advanced.