A Review of District Heating Reactor Technology

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District heating using fossil fuels is a major contributor to CO2 emissions in Finland, and there is considerable pressure to move from coal-fired plants to low-carbon technologies, such as biofuels and heat pumps. The possibility of using nuclear reactors for heating applications has also become a hot topic for public discussion. The viability of the nuclear option is currently being evaluated in a research project coordinated by VTT. This report provides a short review of the developed technologies and the characteristic features of heating reactors.
There exists considerable practical experience in the use of nuclear power reactors for co-generation, in particular in Russia. Reactor types specifically developed for low-temperature heating applications have also been studied since the 1970's, and the technology is expected to be commercialized in China in the 2020's. The advantages of dedicated heating reactor technology include small unit size and low operating temperature and pressure, which may considerably reduce the manufacturing costs of reactor components. The main challanges and open questions are related to urban siting, since it may not be very cost-effective to transfer low-temperature heat over long distances.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherVTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jan 2019
MoE publication typeD4 Published development or research report or study

Publication series

SeriesVTT Research Report


  • Nuclear energy
  • District heating
  • heating reactos

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