Bloomberg News has published an article about a recently announced project led by Huaneng Power International to build a 200 MWe pebble bed reactor. The system will be based on technology originally developed almost 50 years ago by Rudolf Schulten in Germany. The Chinese version will use experience gained by building and operating the HTR-10, a 10 MW research and test reactor designed and operating at Tsinghua University Institute of Nuclear and New Energy Technology.
The new project will result in the first commercial pebble bed reactor since the German Thorium High Temperature Reactor (THTR-300) was shut down in 1989.
Unlike the PBMR project in South Africa, the Chinese pebble bed reactor will have a two loop system, with helium being circulated in the primary loop as a heat transfer fluid from the reactor and into steam generators to produce steam for the secondary plant.
The system is quite similar to the one built by General Atomics at Ft. St. Vrain, with the exception that the reactor is made up of 6 cm spherical fuel elements instead of the prismatic fuel elements used by GA.
As I was digging around on the net to find out a little more about the high temperature gas reactor (HTGR) project in China, I came across a document that indicated that the Chinese became interested in HTGRs in 1973, but their early program was delayed by a lack of funds to pursue development. That no longer seems to be an obstacle for the Chinese program.