development of Fast Breeder Reactor technology is one of the many salient
successes of the Indian Nuclear Power Programme. With the aim to meet the
growing demand for electricity, the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research
(IGCAR) at Kalpakkam, Tamil Nadu, which is engaged in the design, development,
construction and operation of liquid sodium cooled fast breeder reactors. has
successfully developed the breeder technology.
For over two decades, the 40MW thermal/13 MWe Fast
Breeder Test Reactor (FBTR), developed indigenously, has been in operation
at IGCAR, Kalpakkam. From the experience gained in the successful operation
of FBTR and the research and development efforts carried out in various disciplines
of FBR technology, the Centre designed a pool type, liquid sodium cooled,
oxide fuelled 500 MWe Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR). This reactor
is now under construction.
development of the Fast Breeder Reactor technology has been the result of grit
and determination. Several problems were encountered during the initial
operation, both on the mechanical and the control system. However, these
problems were soon overcome. FBTR has crossed many milestones from “valving” in
steam generators and power levels increased to the highest possible levels
with the small core. FBTR, a test bed for irradiation of fuel and
structural materials, has yielded a rich operating experience and a better
understanding of the technologies involved.
A special mention must be made of the unique Pu-U Monocarbide Mark-1 fuel (70% PuC- 30% UC)
which was chosen with an initial target
burnup 25,000 MWd/t has today crossed the revised
target burnup of
achieved in the technologies involved in liquid sodium handling, design, and
fabrication of plant equipment and machineries, has given the confidence to
IGCAR to embark on the development of a 500 MWe PFBR for utilizing plutonium
and the depleted uranium from the Indian PHWRs.
has led to a competitive design backed by vast amount of tests and mastering
of the manufacturing technology. For the R&D, many collaborative works
were carried out with educational institutes, R&D labs. and public and
private sector companies. The exercise
of getting clearances from the Ministry of Environment, Planning Commission,
Ministry of Finance, Power etc. was started in the year 2000. The financial
sanction for the project was given by the Cabinet in September 2003.
plant is being constructed by a newly formed company called BHAVINI (Bharatiya
Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Limited) which comprises experts in project management
and construction drawn from Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) and the
technological expertise from IGCAR, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and
other Department of Atomic Energy(DAE) units. This is indeed an example of
optimizing and synergising the expert resources to meet this challenging
assignment in a cost-effective manner.
are focused on developing high burn-up
and high breeding fuel, advanced structural materials for longer life of FBR’s
upto 60 years, development of better shielding materials, etc. Closing the
fuel cycle with high efficiency in an environmentally benign manner is of
major importance for the programme. Interdisciplinary collaboration, inter-organisational
synergy, multitasking by experts and the mobility of personnel from one type
of activity to another, have undoubtedly provided the impetus for growth of
FBR’s in India.
community has recently identified the liquid sodium cooled Fast Breeder Reactor
as one of the five advanced and innovative types of reactors to meet the future energy needs in
a safe and cost-effective manner. However, India had unwavering faith in FBRs
and pursued the path with courage and conviction since 1970s. It can be said
with confidence that energy security for India, in the next few decades, would
be realised through FBRs. (PIB Features)
*Inputs from Publication
Division, Department of Atomic Energy, Government of India.
(Release ID :21436)