Generation III reactor
A generation III reactor is a development of generation II nuclear reactor designs incorporating evolutionary improvements in design developed during the lifetime of the generation II reactor designs. These include improved fuel technology, superior thermal efficiency, passive nuclear safety systems and standardised design for reduced maintenance and capital costs. The first Generation III reactor to begin operation was Kashiwazaki (an ABWR) in 1996.
Due to the lack of reactor construction in the Western world, very few third generation reactors have been built in developed nations. In general, Generation IV designs are still in development, and might come online in the 2030s.
The improvements in reactor technology in third generation reactors are intended to result in a longer operational life (60 years of operation, extendable to 120+ years of operation prior to complete overhaul and reactor pressure vessel replacement) compared with currently used generation II reactors (designed for 40 years of operation, extendable to 80+ years of operation prior to complete overhaul and RPV replacement).
The core damage frequencies for these reactors are designed to be lower than for Generation II reactors – 60 core damage events per 100 million reactor-years for the EPR; 3 core damage events per 100 million reactor-years for the ESBWR significantly lower than the 1,000 core damage events per 100 million reactor-years for BWR/4 generation II reactors.
The third generation EPR reactor was also designed to use uranium more efficiently than older Generation II reactors, using approximately 17% less uranium per unit of electricity generated than these older reactor technologies.
Response and criticism
Proponents of nuclear power and some who have historically been critical have acknowledged that third generation reactors as a whole are safer than older reactors. However, while there are some strong proponents of the American third generation designs that claim they are much safer than existing reactors in the US, other engineers, although not outright saying that they are not safer, are more conservative and have some specific concerns.
Edwin Lyman, a senior staff scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, has challenged specific cost-saving design choices made for two generation III reactors, both the AP1000 and ESBWR. Lyman, John Ma (a senior structural engineer at the NRC), and Arnold Gundersen (an anti-nuclear consultant) are concerned about what they perceive as weaknesses in the steel containment vessel and the concrete shield building around the AP1000 in that its containment vessel does not have sufficient safety margins in the event of a direct airplane strike. Other engineers do not agree with these concerns, and claim the containment building is more than sufficient in safety margins and factors of safety.
The Union of Concerned Scientists in 2008 referred to the EPR as the only new reactor design under consideration in the United States that "...appears to have the potential to be significantly safer and more secure against attack than today's reactors.":7
There have also been issues in fabricating the precision parts necessary to maintain safe operation of these reactors, with cost overruns, broken parts, and extremely fine steel tolerances causing issues with new reactors under construction in France.
Existing and future reactors
The first generation III reactors were built in Japan, in the form of Advanced Boiling Water Reactors, while several others are in construction in Europe, including the EPR at Flamanville. The next third generation reactor predicted to come on line is a Westinghouse AP1000 reactor, the Sanmen Nuclear Power Station in China, which was scheduled to become operational in 2015. Its completion has since been delayed until 2017.
In the USA, reactor designs are certified by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). As of October 2014[update] the commission has approved five designs, and is considering another five designs as well.
Generation III reactors
- Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR) — a GE design that first went online in Japan in 1996. NRC certified Aug 1997.
- Advanced Pressurized Water Reactor (APWR) — developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.
- Enhanced CANDU 6 (EC6) — developed by Candu Energy Inc. (former part of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited).
- Hualong One — a Chinese development of the CPR-1000 and ACP1000, originally based on the French 900 MWe design.
- VVER-1000/392 (PWR) — in various modifications into AES-91 and AES-92.
Third generation designs not adopted or built yet
- AP600 — A Westinghouse Electric Company design that received final design approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 1998; the EIA states that "Westinghouse has deemphasized the AP600 in favor of the larger, though potentially even less expensive (on a cost per kilowatt or capacity basis) AP1000 design." NRC certified Dec 1999.
- System 80+ — a Combustion Engineering (now incorporated into Westinghouse) design, which "provides a basis for the APR1400 (Generation III+) design that has been developed in Korea for future deployment and possible export." NRC certified May 1997.
- Advanced Heavy Water Reactor being developed by BARC, India to utilize thorium.
Generation III+ reactors
Generation III+ designs offer significant improvements in safety and economics over Generation III advanced reactor designs certified by the NRC in the 1990s.
- Advanced CANDU Reactor (ACR-1000)
- AP1000 — based on the AP600 with increased power output. NRC certified Dec 2005.
- European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) — an evolutionary descendant of the Framatome N4 and Siemens Power Generation Division KONVOI reactors.
- Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR) — based on the ABWR
- APR-1400 — an advanced PWR design evolved from the U.S. System 80+, which is the basis for the Korean Next Generation Reactor or KNGR 
- V392M (PWR) — in design of AES-2006/92 with mainly passive safety features
- V491 (PWR) — in design of AES-2006/91 with mainly active safety features, international sold as MIR.1200
- V513 (PWR) — in design of AES-2006/91M with active and passive safety features and VVER-TOI-features, based von V491 and V510
- V510 (PWR) — in design of AES-2010 (also referred to as VVER-TOI), based on V392M
- EU-ABWR — based on the ABWR with increased power output and compliance with EU safety standard.
- B&W mPower — an Advanced Light Water Reactor in development by Babcock & Wilcox and Bechtel 
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