The second unit of the UAE’s nuclear power plant in Barakah has completed pre-operational testing in preparation for main operations, the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) announced on Monday.
Unit 2 of the four-unit power plant – the first in the UAE – has now completed Hot Functional Testing (HFT), a statement said.
The testing process “incorporated all lessons learned from the same test on Unit 1″ to achieve improved safety and efficiency, it added.
The $24.4bn plant is the world’s largest nuclear project under construction and will be the first in the Arab world when operational. The plant has total capacity of 5,600MW of electricity.
“This most recent round of testing ensures that Unit 2’s systems and components are on track to reliably and safely perform their intended functions when the plant becomes operational,” said Mohamed Al Hammadi, CEO of ENEC.
“The pre-operational commissioning phase of a nuclear energy plant is a complex and critical step towards starting to operate the plant.”
HFT takes place over a number of weeks and consists of almost 200 individual and integrated tests performed on major systems to check their performance under normal operational conditions, without the presence of nuclear fuel in the reactor, the statement explained.
The test includes the first time that most of the reactor’s systems experience the operational temperature of nearly 300 degrees celsius and operational pressure of more than 150 kilograms per square centimetre. It is also the first time that the turbine is spun at its maximum speed of 1,500 revolutions per minute.
During the HFT, components were checked for thermal expansion, vibration and wear, the statement said.
“The pressuriser safety valve test, pre-core reactor coolant system flow measurement test and main turbine system test were performed, proving that major components and systems work as designed and meet all requirements for normal operation,” it added.
The HFT also provided plant operators from Nawah, the joint venture subsidiary in charge of operations, the chance to control pressure and temperature safety-related equipment, start and place the turbine in service, and complete various other operating procedures.
For the testing, ENEC worked with its joint venture partner and prime contractor for the Barakah project the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO), under the observation of the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR), the UAE’s independent nuclear regulatory body.
Construction of Unit 2 began in April 2013, one year after Unit 1, with 93 per cent of the project complete as of June-end.
The construction of Unit 1 has been completed and turned over to Nawah for preparation to operate, pending regulatory approval.
“Keeping construction progress approximately one year apart for each of the Units at Barakah makes it possible for us to implement all lessons learned from one Unit to the subsequent ones, in line with international best practices in the management of megaprojects,” added Al Hammadi.
The overall construction progress rate for the four units is now more than 89 per cent, ENEC added.
However, ENEC confirmed in May that the start-up of the plant’s first nuclear reactor had been delayed, with operations expected to begin between the end of 2019 and early 2020.
In July, FANR said that that start of operations at the nuclear power plant would depend on the outcome of further reviews of the project.