'India designs Integrated Plants for spent fuel reprocessing'

"India also commenced engineering activities for setting up of an Integrated Nuclear Recycle Plant (INRP) with facilities for both reprocessing of spent fuel and waste management as setting up adequate reprocessing capability has been an important element of country's closed fuel cycle-based programme," Banerjee told PTI.

These plants will be of much bigger size than the plants which are under construction or in operation today in the country and will match in capacity and reliability with the international standards, he said.

The Fast Reactor-based spent fuel recycle plants will be located at Kalpakkam (Fast Reactor Fuel Cycle Facility—FRFCF) while thermal reactor-based spent fuel recycle plants will be located at Tarapur, Banerjee said.

INRPs are for the Back End of Nuclear Fuel Cycle activity that involves storage of spent fuel, reprocessing, management of high level and low level radioactive waste, fuel fabrication, and intermediate period storage of vitrified radioactive waste among other processes, Banerjee explained. "These plants will be totally indigenously designed, built, operated and will use the latest technology available in India. Efforts are on for standardisation of these plants based on the experience gained by DAE in building and operating similar plants," he said.

The nuclear fuel cycle is the progression of nuclear fuel through a series of important steps -- 'front end' and 'back end'. Front end of the fuel cycle includes preparation of the fuel, steps in the service period in which the fuel is used during reactor operation, while the back end is necessary to safely manage, contain, and either reprocess or dispose of spent nuclear fuel from the reactors.

If spent fuel is not reprocessed, the fuel cycle is referred to as an open fuel cycle or a once-through fuel cycle whereas if it is reprocessed, it is referred to as a closed fuel cycle which is also India’s mandate.

"Integration of all the back end of nuclear fuel cycle activities will result optimisation of plant throughput and manpower deployment, environment friendliness and finally production of fuel for future reactors at a competitive cost," Banerjee added.

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