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2009/04/08 19:13 KST
S. Korea develops process to cut time, cost to build nuke reactor

   SEOUL, April 8 (Yonhap) -- South Korean engineers have developed an innovative construction method that can cut nuclear reactor building time and costs, a state-run atomic power company said Wednesday.

   The Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co. (KHNP) said the new steel plate concrete (PC) building method may reduce overall construction time by 10 months while saving 200 billion won (US$147 million) for every two 1,400 megawatt reactor units built. A commercial reactor usually takes seven years to build at a cost of trillions of won, depending on power output.

   The company said the PC method uses prefabricated sections made by two steel plates embedded with "studs" that are made at factories and shipped to the construction site. Once they are in place, concrete is poured into the space between the plates to form solid walls.

   "This method is safer, faster, reduces environmental pollution and can be used in the construction of industrial plants and other facilities," a KHNP spokesperson said.

   In the past, contractors relied solely on the reinforced concrete method to make specially designed walls at nuclear power plants that required steel reinforcement bars to be built in place, molds to be set up to outline walls, and the space created by the molds filled with cement.

   The official said the SC method is roughly two years ahead of similar research being conducted abroad.

   It said all new reactors in the country are to use this construction method.

   The country plans to build eight new reactors by 2016. Twenty are in operation at present, which met roughly 36 percent of the country's energy needs as of late last year.

   After starting its nuclear power generation in 1977, Seoul has rapidly caught up with industry leaders and is one of a handful of countries in the world able to design and construct reactors.