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Nuclear Power Programme

DAE has been pursuing the following 3-stage Nuclear Power Programme:

  • The first stage comprises setting up of Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs) and associated fuel cycle facilities. PHWRs use natural uranium as fuel and heavy water as moderator and coolant.
  • The second stage envisages setting up of Fast Breeder Reactors (FBRs) backed by reprocessing plants and plutonium-based fuel fabrication plants. Plutonium is produced by irradiation of uranium-238.
  • The third stage is based on the thorium-uranium-233 cycle. Uranium-233 is obtained by irradiation of thorium.

The first stage of Nuclear Power Programme is already in commercial domain. The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL), a public sector undertaking of DAE, is responsible for the design, construction and operation of nuclear power reactors. The company operates 17 reactors. (2 Boiling Water Reactors and 15 Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors) with a total capacity of 4120 MWe. NPCIL is also constructing 3 PHWRs and 2 light water reactors that will increase the installed nuclear capacity to 6780 MWe by the year 2008.

The Fast Breeder Programme is in the technology demonstration stage. To gain experience in the second stage, the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR) has been engaged in the design and development of liquid sodium cooled fast breeder reactors. IGCAR has successfully developed the Fast Breeder Reactor (FBR) technology. The operational experience of FBTR of more than two decades and further technology developments have facilitated the design of a 500 MWe Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (currently under construction of Kalpakkam). A new public sector undertaking Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam (BHAVINI) of DAE is implementing this project which is expected to add 500 MWe to the Southern grid by the year 2010-11.

The third stage of the Nuclear Power Programme is in technology development stage. The ongoing development of 300 MWe Advanced Heavy Water Reactor (AHWR) at BARC aims at developing expertise for thorium utilization and demonstrating advanced safety concepts. Thorium-based systems such as AHWR can be set up on commercial scale only after a large capacity based on fast breeder reactors, is built up.

Source: National Portal Content Management Team, Reviewed on: 09-02-2011