BEIJING, July 22 : China's endeavor to increase the use of clean energygot a big boost on Wednesday after an experimental fast reactor using themostly homegrown fourth-generation nuclear technology reached the criticalstate.Fast reactors that run on the fourth-generation technology differ fromothers in that they are able to utilize the fuel in a more optimal way so asto reduce the overall energy costs significantly.The technology will also lift the uranium usage ratio to as high as 70percent from existing one percent. In the long run, it will alsoconsiderably reduce the nation's reliance on foreign fuel imports, ChinaDaily reported on Thursday."The fast reactor will extend China's utilization of proven and verifieduranium resources to 1,000 years from less than 100 years through theexisting pressurized water reactors," said Zhang Donghui, general manager ofthe fast reactor program.The fast reactor program has been set up with a total investment of 2.5billion Yuan ($369 million) and China is the eighth country to successfullymaster the technology."This is a significant step in China's nuclear program," said Zhao Zhixiang,dean of China Institute of Atomic Energy.China currently produces around 750 tons of uranium. The demand-supply gapof uranium is expected to exceed 10,000 tons by 2015 and reach nearly 30,000tons by 2030, according to Yan Qiang, a researcher with Chinese Academy ofGeological Sciences.With the bulk of the nuclear power likely to be used for meeting thenation's power needs, demand for the clean energy is also expected to surge,said Yan.China plans to set up 60 new nuclear reactors and have a nuclear powerproductivity of around 75 million kilowatts by 2020. The country is alsoconstructing 23 machine sets to harness nuclear power, the largest among the57 such sets in the world.