Baotou Nuclear Fuel Component Plant

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Last Updated: September 29, 2011
Other Name: Baotou Nuclear Material Plant; Plant 202 (202厂); 202 Nuclear Fuel Fabrication Plant, Fabrikam
Location: Baotou, Inner Mongolia
Subordinate To: China North Nuclear Power Company Ltd. (CNNPC), fully owned subsidiary company of China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC)
Size: 16 square kilometers, nearly 3000 employees [1]
Facility Status: Mostly converted to civilian use, retains military functions

Originally a military fuel element plant designed and built with Soviet assistance, the Baotou Nuclear Fuel Component Plant was established under the Fuel Productions Bureau of the Second Ministry of Machine Building Industry (now the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC)). It produces uranium tetrafluoride (UF4), natural uranium fuel rods for the Jiuquan Complex, enriched uranium fuel rods for submarine reactors, and hydrogen bomb materials, including lithium-6 deuteride and tritium. [2] Baotou also received heavy water of up to 90 percent purity for further concentration to 99.8 percent, which it then mixed with lithium-6 deuteride for use in China’s first hydrogen bomb. [3] No sources indicate that Baotou handles highly enriched uranium (HEU) or separated plutonium, as U.S. intelligence originally believed. [4] Baotou claims its military function to be a platform for research of military technology. [5] Since 2011, the chief engineer is Li Guan Xing. [6]

Under the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), in the late 1990s Baotou increased its production of fuel for civilian nuclear reactors. In 1998 the CNNC set up a second fuel plant at Baotou run by China North Nuclear Fuel Co Ltd to fabricate fuel assemblies for Qinshan’s CANDU pressurized heavy water reactors (PHWRs) and some pressurized water reactors (PWRs). [7] In January 2011, Westinghouse signed a $35 million contract with China’s State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation (SNPTC) to “design, manufacture and install fuel fabrication equipment” for the Baotou facility to supply China’s future fleet of Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear reactors. [8]

Uranium Tetrafluoride Workshop
Commenced mass production of uranium tetrafluoride (UF4) on 12 December 1962. [9]

Lithium-6 Deuteride Workshop
Produces lithium-6 deuteride. Separated first batch of lithium-6 on 17 September 1964 and the following week produced its first lithium-6 deuteride. [10]

Sources:
[1] “关于我们 [About Us],” China North Nuclear Fuel Co. Ltd., www.btgh.com.cn.
[2] Robert Norris, Andrew S. Burrows and Richard Fieldhouse, Nuclear Weapons Databook, Volume 5 (Boulder: Westview Press, 1994), pp. 338, 344, 345.
[3] Yan Kong, “China’s Nuclear Bureaucracy,” Jane’s Intelligence Review, 1 July 1993, p. 324.
[4] William Burr and Jeffrey T. Richelson, “Whether to ‘Strangle the Baby in the Cradle,’” International Security, Vol. 25, Iss. 3, Winter 2000/2001, p. 64.
[5] “展望未来 [Looking to the Future],” China North Nuclear Fuel Co. Ltd., www.btgh.com.cn
[6] Wang Li Qin, “李秉荣副市长慰问李冠兴院士 [Deputy Mayor Li Bing Rong Welcomes Fellow Li Guan Xin],” Baotou Science and Technology Bureau Intellectual Property, 30 January 2011, www.btkjj.gov.cn; Zhang Cheng Gong, “李冠兴院士来我校讲座[Academician Li Guan Xing Presented Seminar At Our School],” College of Nuclear Science and Technology, 3 July 2012, www.gongxue.cn.
[7] Mark Hibbs, “CNNC to Boost Production Capacity at Two Fuel Fabrication Plants,”Platts NuclearFuel, 7 April 2008.
[8] “Westinghouse Rounds up Tech, Fuel and Supply Chain,” World Nuclear News, 19 January 2011, www.world-nuclear-news.org.
[9] John W. Lewis and Xue Litai, China Builds the Bomb (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1988), pp. 97-98.
[10] John W. Lewis and Xue Litai, China Builds the Bomb (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1988), p. 200.

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