Ministry of Science & Technology19-October, 2006 14:38 IST
Indigenous development of Breeder Technology

The 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. 

Self-reliance in Technologies

            The successful 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  1,54,000 MWday/tonne.

The self-reliance 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.

Collaborative Work

The development 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.


The PFBR 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. 

All efforts 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.

Energy Security

The international 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)