Nuclear Technology to Help China Reduce Emissions

Andrew Hayden
March 7, 2019

Submitted as coursework for PH241, Stanford University, Winter 2018


Fig. 1: President Xi Jinping. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

China tops the list of global atmosphere polluters with its urban air considered to be of the poorest quality of any nation. [1] Additionally, as many as 300 million Chinese citizens are without access to clean water. [1] Under the leadership of President Xi Jinping (see Fig. 1) Beijing has pledged to cut back on fossil fuel emissions. [2] By adding to its existing nuclear fleet China could address both of these issues, and relatively new technology could allow nuclear to get up and running faster than before.

The NHR200-II Low-Temperature Heating Reactor

The NHR200-II is the new and improved version of the NHR200, both of which were developed at Tsinghua University. [3] It is a small, 200 MW, nuclear reactor whose primary purpose is heating. [3] Features include integrated arrangement, natural circulation, self-pressurized performance, hydraulic control rod drive, and passive safety systems. [3]

Advantages of the NHR200-II

The small scale of the technology means it can be built in a variety of sites, including close to the consumer. It can supply both heat and electricity to nearby residents. [3] It also means that reactors can be constructed in a fraction of the time of full scale nuclear plants.

Fig. 2: Beijing Smog. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The NHR200 reactor has also been shown to be an effective way to power desalination plants, which means it may help deliver clean drinking water to coastal areas in need. [3]

China's government is pushing for new clean heat sources like the NHR200-II low-temperature heating reactor as it tries to ween the nation off coal to diminish the production of destructive smog (see Fig.2). [4] Pollutants from coal burning are harmful to the environment and pose a potential public health disaster in Chinese cities. Small nuclear reactors could be an efficient and relatively quickly way to address the problem.


The NHR200-II low-temperature heating reactor technology is an advanced and well tested method. [3] It could be an integral piece of China's clean energy portfolio in the coming years.

© Andrew Hayden. The author warrants that the work is the author's own and that Stanford University provided no input other than typesetting and referencing guidelines. The author grants permission to copy, distribute and display this work in unaltered form, with attribution to the author, for noncommercial purposes only. All other rights, including commercial rights, are reserved to the author.


[1] C. J. Lee, "'Pollute First Control Later' No More: Combatting Environmental Degradation in China Through an Approach Based in Public interest Litigation and Public Participation," Pac. Rim L. Policy J. 17, 796 (2008).

[2] J. Ellis, "The Paris Climate Deal: What You Need to Know," New York Times, 1 Jun 17.

[3] D. Wang et al., "The 200 MW Nuclear Heating Reactor and Its Possible Application in Seawater Desalination," Desalination 99, 367 (1994).

[4] B. Spegele, "China Inc.s Nuclear-Power Push," Wall Street Journal, 23 Feb 16.