IGCAR gears up to start work on two more FBRs

The new reactors shall have more innovative features and technologies to enhance safety and economics. The projects would be implemented by Bhavini RPT Bhavini, a public sector company under the Department of Atomic Energy, especially created to build fast reactors in the country.

"In addition to the prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (FBR), work on which is nearing completion, we have planned to construct two more reactors and the pre-project activities have been approved by the Centre," IGCAR Director Baldev Raj told PTI.

The work on the two reactors was expected to start within couple of years, he said, adding the phase-I of the project work would be started once the pre-project activities were over. The two FBRs would be commissioned by 2020, he said.

In the future, IGCAR would go in for 1,000 MW FBRs with metallic fuels. The scientist team of IGCAR and Bhavini RPT Bhavini would be ensuring the safety of the reactor, robust testing and evaluation of each and every aspect, he said, adding validation was being done in each and every parameter and engineering aspects.

Raj said the global community is interested in the prototype fast breeder reactor (PFBR) and noted that India was a special invitee at the nuclear energy summit, which was held in Vienna in March, where Gen IV (Advanced Nuclear Countries) and INPRO (IAEA initiative) discussed the matter related to enhancing of safety of sodium cooled fast reactors.

"These reactors, present the right answer to sustainability of nuclear energy in the long horizon and the technology to reduce radio toxicity of high level waste", he said, adding, that to realise this objective, fast reactors with closed fuel cycle is the methodology and way forward.

To a question whether India is facing competition with China in FBR projects, he said China was buying two FBRs from Russia and they have commissioned a test reactor in collaboration with that country recently.

"Indian FBR programme is 100 per cent indigenous and our country is among the world leader in sodium cooled fast reactors", he said. "A fast breeder reactor is one which breeds more material for a nuclear fission reaction than it consumes and is key to India's three-stage nuclear power programme", he said.

On the ongoing work on the Rs 3,500-crore first FBR, Raj said the physical and civil construction was almost complete and it would be commissioned by September 2011. "The safety vessel and main vessel have been placed in the reactor vault while the inner vessel would be installed before the reactor is closed", he said.

Noting that many other components are completed or near completion, he said about 1,400 tonnes of sodium have been charged in PFBR. He said other works including primary piping would be completed in time.

"The testing of indigenously developed fission chambers is in progress and would continue for at least six months in Fast Breeder Test Reactor at IGCAR, Kalpakkam", he said. On cost over-run, he said the increase in the prices of steel, cement and engineering hardware would push up the cost by 15-20 per cent in case of PFBR.

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