Tests that simulate the temperatures and pressures which the reactor systems will be subjected to during normal operation have been completed at unit 2 of Barakah nuclear power plant in the United Arab Emirates.

During the tests – which took place over several weeks – almost 200 individual and integrated tests were performed on major systems to check their performance under normal operational conditions, without the presence of nuclear fuel in the reactor.

The tests include the first time most of the reactor’s systems experience an operational temperature of nearly 300 degrees Celsius and operational pressure of more than 150 kilograms per square centimeter. It is also the first time the turbine is spun at its maximum speed of 1500 revolutions per minute, demonstrating its readiness to operate once the reactor starts up for normal operations. During the hot functional tests, components were checked for thermal expansion, vibration and wear.

ENEC said it worked closely with the Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) – the joint venture partner and prime contractor for the Barakah project – and under the observation of the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) to successfully complete the tests.

ENEC CEO Mohamed Al Hammadi said: “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.”

Kepco CEO Jong-Kap Kim said: “Kepco continues to achieve major milestones at the Barakah nuclear energy plant, working together with ENEC and our joint venture subsidiary Nawah. The completion of hot functional tests at Barakah unit 2 in an efficient and timely manner is the result of incorporating the experience we have from unit 1, but also from having completed the same test on the APR1400 reactors at Shin Kori 3 and 4, as well as Shin Hanul 1 in the Republic of Korea.”

Four Korean-designed APR-1400 units are being built for the ENEC at Barakah, in the Dhafrah region of Abu Dhabi, by a consortium led by Kepco. Construction began on the first unit in July 2012, unit 2 in May 2013, unit 3 in September 2014 and unit 4 in September 2015. All four units had originally been expected to be in service by the end of 2020.

The completion of construction at unit 1 was celebrated in March at a ceremony attended by President Moon Jae-in of South Korea and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The unit has now been handed over to Nawah for preparation to operate, pending regulatory approval. Last month, the UAE’s Department of Energy issued an electricity generation licence for the Barakah plant. However, unit 1 must receive an operating licence from FANR before fuel loading and operation can begin. Nawah said in May that this is expected to occur between the end of 2019 and early 2020.

At the end of June, the construction progress rate of Barakah unit 2 was 93%, while the overall construction progress rate for the four units was now more than 89%, ENEC said.

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