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Kalpakkam PFBR to be completed ahead of schedule; 4 more to come up by 2020

Special Correspondent

Foundation completed, most of the components started arriving: IGCAR Director

  • Design is robust; utmost importance to design safety
  • Robots developed for inspection of components
  • India has mastered technology of Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors

    CHENNAI: The Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor, under construction at Kalpakkam near here, will be completed 18 months ahead of schedule. The PFBR will generate 500 MWe, Baldev Raj, Director, Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research, Kalpakkam, said on Monday.

    According to the original schedule, the construction, inaugurated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in October 2004, should be completed in 2010. The (18-metre deep) foundation was completed and most of the components started arriving, said Dr. Baldev Raj, who spoke on "Development of Fast Breeder Reactors at Kalpakkam in the context of energy security to the nation."

    He said, "We told the Union Planning Commission that we will construct the reactor in seven years. We are confident that we will do it in five years and a half. There is place for construction of two more Fast Breeder Reactors at Kalpakkam."

    Dr. Baldev Raj was delivering the ``Prof. C.Y. Krishnamurti memorial lecture,'' organised by the National Institution for Quality and Reliability (NIQR), Chennai branch.

    The IGCAR designed the PFBR. It would use plutonium-uranium oxide as fuel, and liquid sodium would be the coolant. Four more FBRs, of 500-MWe capacity each, would be built in the country by 2020. Beyond 2020, breeder reactors of 1,000-MWe capacity would come up and they would use metallic fuel.

    Dr. Baldev Raj said the PFBR design was robust. Tremendous importance was given to safety in designing it and manufacturing components. Effects of earthquakes and explosions were simulated on the huge main vessel of the reactor. The IGCAR had developed robots for inspection of reactor components. Special steel and stainless steel were developed. ``We have been able to develop a grid plate with 6-metre diameter and 25-mm thickness without any cracks.'' From 1990 to 2000, peer reviews and deliberations were held on the PFBR design and manufacture of components.

    ``Then we demonstrated to the Union Planning Commission that we are mature enough. So the Planning Commission was convinced [about the PFBR's feasibility) and Dr. Manmohan Singh inaugurated its construction.''

    India had mastered the technology of Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors, which used natural uranium as fuel, and heavy water both as moderator and coolant. With the natural uranium available in the country, 10,000 MWe of nuclear energy could be generated. Through the FBRs, it was possible to generate 2,75,000 MWe. A beginning in utilisation of thorium as fuel would be made when construction of a 300-MWe Advanced Heavy Water Reactor started, Dr.Baldev Raj said.

    V.R. Janardhanam, NIQR president, appreciated the work done at the IGCAR to make the PFBR safe. A. Krishna Swami, treasurer, said the IGCAR was internationally renowned, developing technologies for the FBRs. A. Sanjeeva Rao, vice-president, and N. Gowrishankar, chairman, NIQR Chennai branch, said Prof. Krishnamurti was one of the founding-fathers of the quality movement in the country. From 1966 to 2000, he worked in the Statistical Quality Control Unit of the Indian Statistical Institute in Chennai. More than 100 organisations benefited from his advice in quality management. S. Ramachandran, vice-chairman, NIQR Chennai branch, proposed a vote of thanks.

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