Author: Bennett Williams
During the stay in Shanghai, the group visited the birth place of nuclear power in China, Qinshan Nuclear Power Base. At first glance, the power plant facility resembles that of a typical United States plant; the characteristic, towering containment buildings were visible from blocks away, turbine buildings line the coast, and transmission lines span the sky. Despite the familiar scene, the plant facility retained characteristic Chinese attributes. Signs at the entrance loosely translate to “for the good of the Party”, and the scenic hill separating the three sectors was named for the emperor of the Qin Dynasty, who was rumored to have visited the peninsula on which the facility sits.
A team of the plant’s personnel met the group at the visitor’s center to provide a brief introduction to China’s first nuclear power facility. The first domestically designed nuclear power reactor (Qinshan I) was constructed on the first sector of the peninsula, and it was apparent that it was a great source of pride as evidenced by its colloquial name “the Glory of China”. While only a 310 MWe reactor, the Qinshan I PWR forged a path for the domestic design, construction and operation of nuclear power plants.
The tour continued towards Sector II which contains China’s first domestically designed, commercial-scale facility with a total capacity of 2.62 GWe among 4 PWR units. While only a small fraction of China’s expected nuclear power capacity in coming years, the installation is an integral part of the future of China’s nuclear power industry. Sector II contains an analog control room simulator at which prospective licensed operators can train for careers in the rapidly expanding industry in China.
Following lunch with the hosts at Qinshan, the group spent the afternoon at Shanghai Jiao Tong, with whom the University of Michigan shares a joint institute for engineering education. The group was afforded the opportunity to visit the lab where research on fluid dynamics – specifically xenon and krypton gas removal and reactor coolant pump stability analysis – is conducted. A general discussion between the Orion group and the school of nuclear engineering of SJTU followed and continued over dinner at the Academic Exchange Center of SJTU.
The hospitality demonstrated by the hosts at Qinshan and our counterparts from SJTU was nothing short of extraordinary. The former were extremely gracious in sharing the great technological and engineering achievements at the Qinshan power facility, and their generosity was overwhelming as they presented each of us with fine silk gifts as the tour drew to a close. The morning was a testament to these principles of Chinese culture, cementing lasting impressions on our group members.
“The hospitality demonstrated by the hosts at Qinshan and our counterparts from SJTU was nothing short of extraordinary.”
In the evening, the graduate students and faculty from SJTU fostered a genuine sense of community between individuals that are otherwise separated by thousands of miles, language and culture. Students were able to discuss research interests and bond over the commonalities of pursuing graduate degrees over a filling, well-crafted array of Chinese dishes. As the dinner drew to a close, Dr. He gave a toast and expressed these sentiments of gratitude to our hosts at SJTU.