Atomic Energy Regulatory Board’s Annual Report 2011-12

The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited(NPCIL), a public sector undertaking of Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) has the mandate for the design, construction, commissioning and operation of nuclear power reactors.

At present, it operates 20 nuclear power reactors with an installed capacity of 4780 MWe (megawatt electrical), and 4800 MWe capacity is under construction that comprises two light water reactors of 1000 MWe each at Kundankulam in Tamil Nadu, and four PHWRs of 700 MWe each — two at Kakrapar in Gujarat and two at Rawatbhata in Rajasthan.

Nuclear Power Programme: Stage-I

Power Generation

During the calendar year 2011, the power generation was the highest ever with 32,400 million units, that was 39 per cent more than the power generated during the previous calander year due to increased fuel availability, both indigenous and imported.

New Projects

NPCIL will be setting up two Nuclear Power Projects that comprise two 1000 MWe light water reactors at Kundankulam, Chennai and two 1650 MWe light water reactors at Jaitapur, Maharashtra.

For the Kundankulam Power Project (Unit 3 & 4), environmental clearance from the Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF) and Sitting consent from Atomic Energy Regulatory Board(AERB) were received.

For the Jaitapur Projects clearance from MoEF and Coastal Regulation Zone(CRZ) were received.

New Sites

The Government accorded ‘in principle’ approval in October 2009 for five new sites:

  • Gorakhpur in Haryana and Chutka in Madhya Pradesh, to locate indigenous 700 MW PHWRs
  • Kovvada in Andhra Pradesh, Chhaya Mithi Virdi in Gujarat and Haripur in West Bengal to locate LWRs based on international technical cooperation.

In July 2011, the Government accorded ‘in principle’ approval for three more inland sites for setting up PHWRs:

  • Mahi Banswara in Rajasthan,
  • Bhimpur in Madhya Pradesh and
  • Kaiga expansion in Karnataka

Nuclear Power Programme: Stage-II

Fast Breeder Reactors: Fast Breeder Reactors are the mainstay of the second stage of the Indian nuclear Power programme. These reactors produce more fuel than what they consume. The DAE organisations that are involved in the implementation of the fast reactor Programme are the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR), Bhartiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Ltd and Bhabha Atomic Research centre (BARC).

The Fast reactor Programme of IGCAR is supported by its research and development endeavour in a range of disciplines such as reactor engineering, metallurgy, materials science, instrumentation, safety and oters.

The Fast Breeder Test Reactor (FBTR), operating at Kalpakkam for over 25 years, also caters to technology development related to fast reactors.

Based on the fast breeder reactor technology developed by IGCAR, a 500MWe prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) is coming up at Kalpakkam. The project is being executed by the Bhartiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Limited (BHAVINI), a public sector undertaking of DAE.

Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor: The construction of PFBR reached advanced stage. The civil structural works for the Nuclear Island Connected Building (NICB), that houses all the safety and safety related structures, and the buildings surrounded NICB, were completed.

Fast Breeder Test Reactor: FBTR successfully completed two irradiation campaigns with maximum power of 20 MWt and peak linear heat rating of the Mark-I driver fuel.

Turbo generator was rolled and synchronized to the grid, generating a power of 3.9 MWe. The life extension studies indicated that FBTR can function for another ten power years.

Future FBRs: At IGCAR, the reactor assembly components of future commercial fast breeder reactor were conceptualized and detailed analytical investigations were completed. Based on the analysis, optimization of the shapes of various components was carried out. This exercise paved the way for beginning of the detailed design of commercial fast breeder reactor, towards total indigenization for future FBRs.

Nuclear Power Programme: Stage III

Thorium Based Reactors: The Stage-3 of the Indian Nuclear Power Programme aims at using thorium as fuel for power generation on a commercial scale. In the thorium fuel cycle, thorium-232 is transmuted into the fissile isotope uranium-233 which is a nuclear fuel.

As a part of this programme, BARC has been developing a 300 MWe Advanced Heavy Water Reactor (AHWR). Fuelled by thorium and using light water as coolant and heavy water as moderator, this reactor will have several advanced passive safety features.

Advanced Heavy Water Reactor: Theanced Heavy Water Reactor (AHWR) design involving compartmentalized inlet header and emergency core cooling system header, and connecting compartments of both in interleaving manner was evolved.

Other Reactor Systems: A Compact High Temperature Reactor (CHTR) uses graphite pellets containing a uniform distribution of TRISO coated particle fuels. For achieving a uniform distribution, an innovative scheme for pelletisation was developed at BARC. For CHTR critical facility, design of shielding system was worked out, and an alloy was developed for structural components of this reactor.

Radiation Technology And Their Applications

Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) has been playing a significant role in the development and applications of various radioisotopes in healthcare, industry, agriculture and research. As a result of the consistent efforts of DAE, India is today one of the leading countries in the isotope technology.

Radioisotopes are produced in the research reactors at Tromby, accelerator at Kolkata and the various nuclear power plants of NPCIL. During the report period, a wide variety of radioisotopes for medical, industrial and research applications were produced and supplied by BARC.

The Board of Radiation and Isotope Technology(BRIT) produced and supplied a wide range of radioisotope products, and radiation technology equipment for medical and industrial uses.

Agriculture: One of the important applications of atomic energy is the improvement of crop plants using ionizing radiation. Genetic improvement of crop plants is a continuing endeavour of BARC. Preservation of agro-products using radiation is an important post-harvest technology that is now widely used on commercial scale. BARC, BRIT and RRCAT are the technology generators in this field.

Food Technology: Large scale studies were undertaken by BARC in collaboration with the Central Institute for Fisheries Education (CIFE), Versova, Mumbai. A joint IAEA-RCA project was also undertaken to develop irradiated foods for immuno-compromised patients.

At Trombay, various traditional Indian meat products selected for development of radappertized (radiation sterilized) products, were found to be microbiologically sterile and had high sensory acceptability.

Studies conducted at Trombay on the effect of radiation processing on nutritional quality of vegetables demonstrated that the process does not affect their nutritional contents

At RRCAT, fresh groundnuts were irradiated with electron beam from DC accelerator (700 keV) and Linear accelerator (8.5 MeV) for mutation breeding experiments in groundnuts.

Soybean seeds were also irradiated with electron beams from the accelerator to study mutations in growth phases of soybean.

Nuclear Medicine and Healthcare: BARC continued to produce medically important isotopes such as I-131, Mo-99, Sm-153 and others, and processed 1,00,000 GBq of activity for supply to users.

Alternative Applications of Heavy Water: In the field of medicine, alternative applications of heavy water are opening up new business opportunities. Keeping pace with these developments, the Heavy Water Board made significant progress. Oxygen-18 is one of the isotopes having application in medicine and biochemical research. At HWP (Tuticorin), a test facility for Oxygen-18 enrichment was set up.

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