KHNP project to develop vitrification technology gets underway
Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP) has been developing vitrification technology to safely dispose of low- and intermediate-level radioactive wastes from power plant equipment including gloves, clothing and radioactive filters.
Since 1999, KHNP has been pushing for development of vitrification technology jointly with SGN of France and Hyundai MOBIS, Lee Joong-jae, president and CEO of KHNP, said.
As an initial result, KHNP has succeeded in developing a cold crucible melter for disposal of radioactive wastes that can be incinerated and a plasma torch melter for disposal of those whose incineration is very difficult, he said.
The cold crucible is a compact water-cooled melter in which the radioactive wastes and the glass addictives are melted by direct high frequency induction. The cooling of the melter produces a solidified glass layer that protects the melter's inner wall from corrosion. Because the heat is transferred directly to the melt, high operating temperatures can be achieved with no impact on the melter itself. In an interview with Korea IT Times, Lee said that KHNP has conducted experiments with general waste of no radioactivity about 100 times before applying the developed vitrification technology to the commercialization of the nuclear power plants' disposal of radioactive wastes.
"Through this process, we found out a method to effectively attain vitrification technology to dispose of low- and intermediate-level radioactive wastes from power plants," he said.
"We are now constructing facilities to vitrify wastes generated from nuclear power plants in the Ulchin headquarters. As a result, the quantity of radioactive wastes generated in the Ulchin headquarters is expected to reduce by 30 percent from the present," said Lee.
KHNP plans to confirm safety of facilities through thorough pretests and maximize operation efficiency of the facilities, he said.
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) also selected the vitrification technology developed by KHNP as a technology cooperative program in 2003 under the judgment that the technology is a safe method to dispose of low- and intermediate-level radioactive wastes from nuclear power plants. Under the program, IAEA has dispatched relevant experts to KHNP as a means of extending technological supports.
If the vitrification technology propelled by KHNP is made successfully, it will greatly contribute to safe disposal of radioactive wastes and propelling the development of the nuclear power industry safely, the president said.
Lee said that the electricity generated from nuclear power plants in Korea accounted for about 40 percent of the nation's total electric power generation in 2005. Meanwhile, the nation's utilization ratio of nuclear power plants reached 95.5 percent in 2005, about 15 percentage points higher than the world's average of 79.3 percent. It means that Korea's ability to operate nuclear power plants has reached a top level in the world, said the president.
He further added, "However, there are still some people who are concerned about nuclear power plants. Accordingly, KHNP plans to make public the company's nuclear power-related information and make the company transparent in an attempt to help people better understand nuclear power."
KHNP, which is in charge of the nation's key industry, is exerting best efforts to secure new and renewable energy through various means, including the construction of the 3 MW-class solar energy generating plant, the biggest in Asia. At the same time, KHNP has been actively pushing for social contribution activities and various voluntary service activities for activation of regional economy, he said.
"Through endless renovation management, KHNP will be reborn as the world's top-class enterprise, while receiving confidence from people," said Lee. For the development of Korea's nuclear power, KHNP has mapped out the mid- and long-term (2006- 2015) plan to push for systematic technology development in the seven fields, including nuclear power plant safety. It also spends more than 5 percent of the turnover for development of nuclear power plant operation technology, nuclear power plant construction technology, and technology of new and renewable energy every year.
In particular, KHNP has selected the seven new growth engine tasks, including development of technology to increase generating power of nuclear power plants in operation, technology for continuous operation of nuclear power plants and APR1400 construction and operation technology, and has been making active investments in the selected tasks.
At the same time, KHNP has been making strenuous efforts to develop core origin technologies, including nuclear power plant design core code technology, to secure foundation for exporting the nation's nuclear power-related technology to foreign countries, he said. KHNP is also making continuous investment in the research and development projects of solar energy, fuel battery and tidal power generation for the technology development of new and renewable energy.
To cement its win-win ties with small- and medium-sized companies, KHNP is also extending actual financial and technology supports to them, including transfer of holding technologies and extension of 3 billion won ($3.1 million) for R&D projects, said Lee. KHNP has been creating a nuclear power research and development fund amounting to 170 billion won ($177 million) every year to support R&D projects pushed by industrial, academic and research fields.
Interview with Lee Joong-jae, president and CEO of KHNP The followings are excerpts from the interview with Lee Joong-jae, president and CEO of KHNP.
Q: Do you have any suggestions for the development of Korea's nuclear power industry
A: The industrial, academic and research sectors need to actively foster professional manpower and develop basic technology in the nuclear power sector in order to enhance the nation's competitiveness.
Related to this, KHNP is expanding R&D investment gradually and strengthening international cooperation system with advanced institutions, while actively advancing into foreign countries. KHNP will make strenuous efforts to gain confidence from people on safety of nuclear power by actively making public information and pursuing transparent management, as well as holding frequent discussions with civic, social and environmental organizations. The government, from its part, needs to activate basic study for development of next-generation nuclear reactor and establish a roadmap for used fuel management.
Q: Would you introduce the future course of KHNP and the core sectors that it places emphasis
A: KHNP plans to convert the R&D system into the one focusing on outcome in an effort to enhance effectiveness and economic viability. Korea now ranks 6th in the world in terms of nuclear power plant facilities. To upgrade its technology to the level of advanced Gen-IV in terms of operation and construction of nuclear power plants, KHNP is also increasing its investment in R&D projects.
Q: Would you comment on your company's strategy and activities to win overseas orders related to nuclear power plant A: Korea's nuclear power industry has secured ability to advance into foreign markets with the development of 1 million and 1.4 million kWclass standard-type nuclear power plants(OPR-1000, APR-1400). As an export strategy, KHNP is supporting foreign countries' construction of infrastructure based on its experiences and know-how, while holding a variety of explanatory meetings and seminars in foreign countries to publicize Korea's nuclear power technology. |
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