Advanced boiling water reactor

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Construction of ABWR at Lungmen Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City, Taiwan. Lungmen.jpg
Construction of ABWR at Lungmen Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City, Taiwan.

The advanced boiling water reactor (ABWR) is a Generation III boiling water reactor. The ABWR is currently offered by GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) and Toshiba. The ABWR generates electrical power by using steam to power a turbine connected to a generator; the steam is boiled from water using heat generated by fission reactions within nuclear fuel. Kashiwazaki-Kariwa unit 6 is considered the first Generation III reactor in the world.

Generation III reactor classification of nuclear reactors

A Generation III reactor is a development of Generation II nuclear reactor designs incorporating evolutionary improvements in design developed during the lifetime of the Generation II reactor designs. These include improved fuel technology, superior thermal efficiency, significantly enhanced safety systems, and standardized designs for reduced maintenance and capital costs. The first Generation III reactor to begin operation was Kashiwazaki 6 in 1996.

Boiling water reactor type of light water nuclear reactor used for the generation of electrical power

A boiling water reactor (BWR) is a type of light water nuclear reactor used for the generation of electrical power. It is the second most common type of electricity-generating nuclear reactor after the pressurized water reactor (PWR), which is also a type of light water nuclear reactor. The main difference between a BWR and PWR is that in a BWR, the reactor core heats water, which turns to steam and then drives a steam turbine. In a PWR, the reactor core heats water, which does not boil. This hot water then exchanges heat with a lower pressure water system, which turns to steam and drives the turbine. The BWR was developed by the Argonne National Laboratory and General Electric (GE) in the mid-1950s. The main present manufacturer is GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, which specializes in the design and construction of this type of reactor.

GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy

GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) is a provider of advanced reactors and nuclear services. It is located in Wilmington, N.C. Established in June 2007, GEH is a global nuclear alliance created by General Electric and Hitachi. In Japan, the alliance is Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy, Ltd. In November 2015, Jay Wileman was appointed CEO.


Boiling water reactors (BWRs) are the second most common [1] form of light water reactor with a direct cycle design that uses fewer large steam supply components than the pressurized water reactor (PWR), which employs an indirect cycle. The ABWR is the present state of the art in boiling water reactors[ citation needed ], and is the first Generation III reactor design to be fully built[ citation needed ], with several reactors complete and operating.[ citation needed ] The first reactors were built on time and under budget in Japan, with others under construction there and in Taiwan. ABWRs were on order in the United States, including two reactors at the South Texas Project site (although the project is currently halted [2] ). The projects in both Taiwan and US [3] are both reported over-budgeted.

Pressurized water reactor nuclear power plant with a cooling system that operates under high pressure

Pressurized water reactors (PWRs) constitute the large majority of the world's nuclear power plants and are one of three types of light water reactor (LWR), the other types being boiling water reactors (BWRs) and supercritical water reactors (SCWRs). In a PWR, the primary coolant (water) is pumped under high pressure to the reactor core where it is heated by the energy released by the fission of atoms. The heated water then flows to a steam generator where it transfers its thermal energy to a secondary system where steam is generated and flows to turbines which, in turn, spin an electric generator. In contrast to a boiling water reactor, pressure in the primary coolant loop prevents the water from boiling within the reactor. All LWRs use ordinary water as both coolant and neutron moderator.

State-of-the-art refers to the highest level of general development, as of a device, technique, or scientific field achieved at a particular time. It also refers to such a level of development reached at any particular time as a result of the common methodologies employed at the time.

The standard ABWR plant design has a net electrical output of about 1.35  GW , generated from about 3926 MW of thermal power.

Overview of the design

Cross section of UK ABWR design Reinforced Concrete Containment Vessel (RCCV) UK ABWR cross section.png
Cross section of UK ABWR design Reinforced Concrete Containment Vessel (RCCV)
Pressure vessel from the ABWR. 1: Reactor core 2: Control rods 3: Internal Water Pump 4: Steam pipeline to the Turbine generator 5: Cooling water flow to the core ABWR.PNG
Pressure vessel from the ABWR. 1: Reactor core 2: Control rods 3: Internal Water Pump 4: Steam pipeline to the Turbine generator 5: Cooling water flow to the core

The ABWR represents an evolutionary route for the BWR family, with numerous changes and improvements to previous BWR designs.

Major areas of improvement include:

Control rod

Control rods are used in nuclear reactors to control the fission rate of uranium and plutonium. They are composed of chemical elements such as boron, silver, indium and cadmium that are capable of absorbing many neutrons without themselves fissioning. Because these elements have different capture cross sections for neutrons of varying energies, the composition of the control rods must be designed for the reactor's neutron spectrum. Boiling water reactors (BWR), pressurized water reactors (PWR) and heavy water reactors (HWR) operate with thermal neutrons, while breeder reactors operate with fast neutrons.

Basalt fiber is a material made from extremely fine fibers of basalt, which is composed of the minerals plagioclase, pyroxene, and olivine. It is similar to fiberglass, having better physicomechanical properties than fiberglass, but being significantly cheaper than carbon fiber. It is used as a fireproof textile in the aerospace and automotive industries and can also be used as a composite to produce products such as camera tripods.

Reinforced concrete composite building material

Reinforced concrete (RC) (also called reinforced cement concrete or RCC) is a composite material in which concrete's relatively low tensile strength and ductility are counteracted by the inclusion of reinforcement having higher tensile strength or ductility. The reinforcement is usually, though not necessarily, steel reinforcing bars (rebar) and is usually embedded passively in the concrete before the concrete sets. Reinforcing schemes are generally designed to resist tensile stresses in particular regions of the concrete that might cause unacceptable cracking and/or structural failure. Modern reinforced concrete can contain varied reinforcing materials made of steel, polymers or alternate composite material in conjunction with rebar or not. Reinforced concrete may also be permanently stressed, so as to improve the behaviour of the final structure under working loads. In the United States, the most common methods of doing this are known as pre-tensioning and post-tensioning.

The RPV and Nuclear Steam Supply System (NSSS) have significant improvements, such as the substitution of RIPs, eliminating conventional external recirculation piping loops and pumps in the containment that in turn drive jet pumps producing forced flow in the RPV. RIPs provide significant improvements related to reliability, performance and maintenance, including a reduction in occupational radiation exposure related to containment activities during maintenance outages. These pumps are powered by wet-rotor motors with the housings connected to the bottom of the RPV and eliminating large diameter external recirculation pipes that are possible leakage paths. The 10 internal recirculation pumps are located at the bottom of the annulus downcomer region (i.e., between the core shroud and the inside surface of the RPV). Consequently, internal recirculation pumps eliminate all of the jet pumps in the RPV, all of the large external recirculation loop pumps and piping, the isolation valves and the large diameter nozzles that penetrated the RPV and needed to suction water from and return it to the RPV. This design therefore reduces the worst leak below the core region to effectively equivalent to a 2-inch-diameter (51 mm) leak. The conventional BWR3-BWR6 product line has an analogous potential leak of 24 or more inches in diameter. A major benefit of this design is that it greatly reduces the flow capacity required of the ECCS.

The first reactors to use internal recirculation pumps were designed by ASEA-Atom (now Westinghouse Electric Company by way of mergers and buyouts, which is owned by Toshiba) and built in Sweden. These plants have operated very successfully for many years.

Westinghouse Electric Company LLC is a US based nuclear power company formed in 1998 from the nuclear power division of the original Westinghouse Electric Corporation. It offers nuclear products and services to utilities internationally, including nuclear fuel, service and maintenance, instrumentation, control and design of nuclear power plants. Westinghouse's world headquarters are located in the Pittsburgh suburb of Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania. Brookfield Business Partners is the majority owner of Westinghouse.

Toshiba Japanese multinational electronics, electrical equipment and information technology corporation

Toshiba Corporation is a Japanese multinational conglomerate headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. Its diversified products and services include information technology and communications equipment and systems, electronic components and materials, power systems, industrial and social infrastructure systems, consumer electronics, household appliances, medical equipment, office equipment, as well as lighting and logistics.

Sweden constitutional monarchy in Northern Europe

Sweden, officially the Kingdom of Sweden, is a Scandinavian Nordic country in Northern Europe. It borders Norway to the west and north and Finland to the east, and is connected to Denmark in the southwest by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund, a strait at the Swedish-Danish border. At 450,295 square kilometres (173,860 sq mi), Sweden is the largest country in Northern Europe, the third-largest country in the European Union and the fifth largest country in Europe by area. Sweden has a total population of 10.2 million of which 2.5 million has a foreign background. It has a low population density of 22 inhabitants per square kilometre (57/sq mi). The highest concentration is in the southern half of the country.

The internal pumps reduce the required pumping power for the same flow to about half that required with the jet pump system with external recirculation loops. Thus, in addition to the safety and cost improvements due to eliminating the piping, the overall plant thermal efficiency is increased. Eliminating the external recirculation piping also reduces occupational radiation exposure to personnel during maintenance.

An operational feature in the ABWR design is electric fine motion control rod drives, first used in the BWRs of AEG (later Kraftwerk Union AG, now AREVA). Older BWRs use a hydraulic locking piston system to move the control rods in six-inch increments. The electric fine motion control rod design greatly enhances positive actual control rod position and similarly reduces the risk of a control rod drive accident to the point that no velocity limiter is required at the base of the cruciform control rod blades.

Certifications and approvals

Model of the Toshiba ABWR. ABWR Toshiba 1.jpg
Model of the Toshiba ABWR.

Slightly different versions of the ABWR are offered by GE-Hitachi, Hitachi-GE and Toshiba. [4]

In 1997 the GE-Hitachi U.S. ABWR design was certified as a final design in final form by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, meaning that its performance, efficiency, output, and safety have already been verified, making it bureaucratically easier to build it rather than a non-certified design. [5]

In 2013, following its purchase of Horizon Nuclear Power, Hitachi began the process of generic design assessment of the Hitachi-GE ABWR with the UK Office for Nuclear Regulation. [6] This was completed in December 2017. [7]

In July 2016 Toshiba withdrew the U.S. design certification renewal for the ABWR because "it has become increasingly clear that energy price declines in the US prevent Toshiba from expecting additional opportunities for ABWR construction projects". [8]


The ABWR is licensed to operate in Japan, the United States and Taiwan, although most of the construction projects have been halted or shelved.

Japan and Taiwan

As of December 2006, four ABWRs were in operation in Japan: Kashiwazaki-Kariwa units 6 and 7, which opened in 1996 and 1997, Hamaoka unit 5, opened 2004 having started construction in 2000, and Shika 2 commenced commercial operations on March 15, 2006. Another two partially constructed reactors are in Lungmen in Taiwan, and one more (Shimane Nuclear Power Plant 3) in Japan. Work on Lungmen halted in 2014. Work on Shimane halted after the 2011 earthquake [9]

United States

On June 19, 2006 NRG Energy filed a Letter Of Intent with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to build two 1358 MWe ABWRs at the South Texas Project site. On September 25, 2007, NRG Energy and CPS Energy submitted a Construction and Operations License (COL) request for these plants with the NRC. NRG Energy is a merchant generator and CPS Energy is the nation's largest municipally owned utility. The COL was approved by the NRC on February 9, 2016. [10] Due to market conditions, these two planned units may never be built and do not have a planned construction date. [11]

United Kingdom

Horizon Nuclear Power had plans to build Hitachi-GE ABWRs at Wylfa in Wales [12] and Oldbury in England. [13] [4] Both projects were paused in March 2012 by the shareholders at the time (RWE and E-ON) [14] to put Horizon up for sale, with Hitachi becoming the new owner. The 'Development Consent Order' for Wylfa was accepted in June 2018 and in August Bechtel were appointed as project managers. The first reactor was expected online in the mid 2020s with construction at Oldbury expected to start a few years after this. [15] However, on January 17, 2019, Horizon Nuclear Power announced the suspension of both these projects for financial reasons. [16] [17]


In comparison with comparable designs, the four ABWRs in operation are often shut down due to technical problems. [18] The International Atomic Energy Agency documents this with the 'operating factor' (the time with electricity feed-in relative to the total time since commercial operation start). The first two plants in Kashiwazaki-Kariwa (block 6 & 7) reach total life operating factors of 70%, meaning that about 30% of the time, since commissioning, they were not producing electricity. [19] [20] For example, in 2010 Kashiwazaki-Kariwa 6 had an operating capacity of 80.9%, and an operating capacity of 93% in 2011. [21] However, in 2008 it did not produce any power as the installation was offline for maintenance, and therefore had an operating capacity of 0% for that year. [21] In contrast other modern nuclear power plants like the Korean OPR-1000 or the German Konvoi show operating factors of about 90%. [22]

The output power of the two new ABWRs at the Hamaoka and Shika power plant had to be lowered because of technical problems in the power plants steam turbine section. [23] After throttling both power plants down, they still have a heightened downtime and show a lifetime operating factor under 50%. [24] [25]

Reactor block [26] Net output power
(planned net output power)
Commercial operation
Operating Factor [27] since commissioning start
until 2011
HAMAOKA-51212 MW (1325 MW)18.01.200546,7%
KASHIWAZAKI KARIWA-61315 MW07.11.199672% [21]
KASHIWAZAKI KARIWA-71315 MW02.07.199668,5%
SHIKA-21108 MW (1304 MW)15.03.200647,1%


Plant NameNumber of ReactorsRated CapacityLocationOperatorConstruction StartedYear Completed (First criticality)Cost (USD)Notes
Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant 21356 MW Kashiwazaki, Japan TEPCO 1992,19931996,1996First Installation.After the March 11, 2011 earthquake, all restarted units were shut down and safety improvements are being carried out. As of October 2017, no units have been restarted, and the earliest proposed restart date is in April 2019 (for reactors 6 and 7 that using ABWR). [28] [29] [30]
Shika Nuclear Power Plant 11358 MW Shika, Japan Hokuriku Electric Power Company 20012005The plant is currently not producing electricity in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.
Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant 11267 MW Omaezaki, Japan Chuden 20002005On May 14, 2011 Hamaoka 5 was shut down by the request of the Japanese government.
Shimane Nuclear Power Plant Reactor 311373 MW Matsue, Japan Chugoku Electric Power Company 2007Construction suspended in 2011
Longmen Nuclear Power Plant 21350 MW Gongliao Township, Republic of China Taiwan Power Company 1997After 2017$9.2 BillionConstruction halted in 2014
Higashidōri Nuclear Power Plant 31385 MW Higashidōri, Japan Tohoku Electric Power and TEPCONo firm plans
Ōma Nuclear Power Plant 11383 MW Ōma, Japan J-Power 2010After 2021In December 2014 J-Power applied for safety checks at the Oma nuclear plant, slated for startup in 2021. [31]
South Texas Project 21358 MW Bay City, Texas, United States NRG Energy, TEPCO and CPS Energy $14 billionLicense granted 2016, construction is currently not scheduled [32]

ABWR-II design

A number of design variants have been considered, with power outputs varying from 600 to 1800 MWe. [33] The most developed design variant is the ABWR-II, started in 1991, an enlarged 1718 MWe ABWR, intended to make nuclear power generation more competitive in the late 2010s. [34] None of these designs have been deployed.

The new designs hoped to achieve 20% reductions in operating costs, 30% reduction in capital costs, and tight planned construction schedule of 30 months. The design would allow for more flexibility in choices of nuclear fuels. [35]

See also

References and notes

  2. "NRG ends project to build new nuclear reactors". The Dallas Morning New. April 19, 2011. Retrieved 2015-03-14.
  3. "$6.1 million spent to end nuclear deal" Express News CPS Energy STNP Expansion Termination Article
  4. 1 2 "Bechtel to manage Wylfa Newydd project". World Nuclear News. 22 August 2018. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  5. "Design Certification Information Page - ABWR". Design Certification Applications. Federal Government of the United States, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Rockville, MD, USA. June 3, 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-28.
  6. "ABWR set for UK design assessment". Nuclear Engineering International. January 16, 2013. Retrieved January 26, 2013.[ permanent dead link ]
  7. "Hitachi-GE ABWR design cleared for use in UK". World Nuclear News. 14 December 2017. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  8. "Toshiba withdraws ABWR certification application". World Nuclear News. 1 July 2016. Retrieved 5 July 2016.
  9. url=
  14. "RWE and E.On halt UK nuclear plans at Wylfa and Oldbury". BBC. 29 March 2012. Retrieved 29 March 2012.
  15. "Oldbury nuclear power station site - Horizon Nuclear Power". Retrieved 2018-10-03.
  16. "Horizon suspends UK nuclear new build activities". Hitachi in Europe. 2019-01-17. Retrieved 2019-04-10.
  17. Vaughan, Adam (2019-01-17). "Hitachi scraps £16bn nuclear power station in Wales". The Guardian. ISSN   0261-3077 . Retrieved 2019-01-17.
  18. Thomas, Steve (May 2018). The failings of the Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR) proposed for Wylfa Nuclear Power Station (PDF) (Report). Greenpeace. Retrieved 20 April 2019.
  19. [ dead link ]
  20. Archived June 4, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  21. 1 2 3
  22. IAEA - Nuclear Power Reactors in the World - 2010 Edition - Vienna 2010
  23. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 13, 2017. Retrieved July 17, 2011.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  24. [ dead link ]
  25. IAEA Archived June 4, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  26. Power Reactor Information System of the IAEA: Japan: Nuclear Power Reactors - Alphabetic“ Archived July 18, 2011, at the Wayback Machine (englisch)
  27. NEPIS Manual
  28. "Tepco may ask U.S. utility to inspect Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant". 30 October 2014. Retrieved 7 February 2017 via Japan Times Online.
  29. Reuters: Tepco shares slump after anti-nuclear novice wins Japan election, accessdate: December 4, 2016
  30. "Tepco contemplates 2019 restart for giant Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant". The Japan Times. April 22, 2017. Retrieved October 16, 2017.
  31. "J-Power forges ahead with Oma nuclear plant despite local tensions". The Japan Times . 2014-12-16. Archived from the original on 2017-03-04. Retrieved 2017-03-03.
  32. NRG ends project to build new nuclear reactors
  33. "Nuclear Power in Japan". World Nuclear Association. October 22, 2012. Retrieved October 31, 2012.
  34. Katsumi Yamada1; Satoko Tajima; Masaaki Tsubaki; Hideo Soneda (September 15–19, 2003). "ABWR Design and Its Evolution - Primary System Design of ABWR and ABWR-II" (PDF). International Conference on Global Environment and Advanced Nuclear Power Plants. GENES4/ANP2003, Sep. 15-19, 2003, Kyoto, JAPAN - Paper 1161. Retrieved October 31, 2012.[ permanent dead link ]

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