Small Modular Reactors are considered modern reactors with a production range of between 10 and 300 MW compared to Large Nuclear Reactors with a production of between 1,000 and 1,600 MW, and are still the normative choice for electricity production. K.A.CARE has conducted a strategic study to engage in technical partnerships with suppliers of Small Modular Reactor technologies, which have been included in the components of the Saudi National Atomic Energy Project to achieve the following objectives:
Under this component, K.A.CARE also targets two technologies - the technology of High-Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactors and the System-Integrated Modular Advanced Reactor (SMART) technology.
1.1 High-Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactors technology
High-temperature Gas-Cooled Reactors (HTGRs) are one of the world's fourth generation small modular nuclear reactors. The above-mentioned reactors are characterized by the following specifications: implicit safety, high power efficiency, simplicity of design systems, and the possibility of using it in several industrial applications. The characteristics of High-Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactor allow it to meet the requirements of clean energy in Saudi Arabia.
China Nuclear Engineering & Construction Corporation has been involved in the development of the fourth-generation High-Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactors technology with Tsinghua University, and has the sole right to use High-Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactors. China Nuclear Engineering & Construction Corporation is responsible for the research, development, investment, construction and activities related the High-Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactors in the People's Republic of China.
HTGR is a quantum leap in terms of nuclear safety; the core of the reactor is meltdown resistant even in the most severe nuclear accidents. In addition to several reasons related to reactor design and nuclear fuel technology, the design is characterized by "inherent safety" where simulation tests of the most serious possible accidents were conducted (such as the Fukushima incident with the power outages), all of which ended safely after 6 days without any human intervention.
High-Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactors mechanism:
HTGR uses helium-free gas with chemical inertness as a coolant, and graphite substance to defuse neutrons. After raising the temperature of the helium gas at the core of the reactor to 750 ° C, high-temperature steam will be generated through the steam generator. The steam will then flow to the turbine generator to generate electricity.
The fuel used in the nuclear reactor is spherical elements; each element contains 7 grams of heavy minerals. U-235 represent 8.5% of the fuel spherical elements with a diameter of 0.5 mm that are coated with three layers of hydrocarbon and one layer of carbon silicone.
High-Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactors applications
HTGR can be shared with the industrial sector that uses heat intensively. There are many applications through which we can connect the reactor mentioned above, as shown in the following picture:
1.2 System-Integrated Modular Advanced Reactor (SMART)
Indigenization of System-Integrated Modular Advanced Reactor (SMART) falls under the second component of the Saudi National Atomic Energy Project. SMART technology is a small, modular, advanced nuclear reactor that can be built as independent units. This technology is distinguished by its advanced safety features that enables it to generate thermal power of 360 MW, this type of reactors can produce 110 MW of electricity, or 90 MW of electricity and 40,000 tons of desalinated water simultaneously (i.e., enough for nearly one hundred thousand people,) a SMART reactor is characterized by the following:
1. Short period of construction and low capital and operational costs for building power plants compared to large nuclear reactors.
2. Possibility of building them in coastal or inland areas.
3. Simplicity of its indigenization due to its small size, and a faster gradual entry to national factories.
4. High safety standards due to its reliance on a safety system that does not require an electrical source.
The System-Integrated Modular Advanced Reactor Project aims to indigenize the SMART technology in Saudi Arabia, and joint investment in this technology through its internal construction to support the production of electricity and water desalination, as well as exporting and marketing it abroad. In addition to the development of human capabilities in this field, which in turn will contribute to achieving the objectives of the national transformation program. Furthermore, focusing on innovation in advanced technologies, providing training opportunities nationally and internationally, and empowering promising national companies to become economic entities.
K.A.CARE is working in a strategic partnership with the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) on preparing the engineering design of the reactor to develop the technology, invest in it commercially and build human resources. A number of Saudi engineers, under the supervision of experts from the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute, were trained on the designs of the SMART reactor for two and a half years. The plan of indigenization of System-Integrated Modular Advanced Reactor technologies was also under study in which a consultancy company was hired to develop solutions for the construction and indigenization of SMART technologies; to ensure sustainability of the project by developing an action plan to attract investors and engage in international partnerships to minimize potential risks. In addition to prioritizing the power plant components that can be indigenized in a short time. The Chairman of K.A.CARE, Eng. Khaled Al-Faleh, has visited the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAI) and met with the Saudi engineers involved in the design of the System-Integrated Modular Advanced Reactor.