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After the Fukushima nuclear accident, much more attention has to be drawn on the safety issues. The improvement of safety has already become the focus of the developing trend of the nuclear energy systems. Due to the inherent safety feature and the potential economic competitiveness, the modular high temperature gas-cooled reactor (MHTGR) has been seen as the central part of the next generation of nuclear plant (NGNP). Power-level control is one of the key techniques that guarantee the safe, stable and efficient operation for nuclear reactors. Since the MHTGR dynamics has the features of strong nonlinearity and uncertainty, in order to improve the operation performance, it is meaningful to develop the nonlinear adaptive power-level control law for the MHTGR. Based on using the natural dynamic features beneficial to system stabilization, a novel nonlinear adaptive power-level control is given for the MHTGR in this paper. It is theoretically proved that this newly-built controller does not only provide globally asymptotic closed-loop stability but is also adaptive to the system uncertainty. This control law is then applied to the power-level regulation of the pebble-bed MHTGR of the HTR-PM power plant. Numerical simulation results show the feasibility of this control law and the relationship between the performance and controller parameters.