India plans to construct six more fast breeder reactors

Hyderabad: BHAVINI, the implementing arm of the Department of Atomic Energy, has plans to construct six new Fast Breeder Reactors over the next 15 years, a senior official said today.

Country’s first 500-MWe Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) at Kalpakkam, around 70 km from Chennai, being set up by BHAVINI, is expected to become critical in March or April 2016, Chairman and Managing Director of Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Limited (BHAVINI), P Chellapandi, said.

Speaking to reporters on sidelines of an International Conference, organised by Nuclear Fuel Complex here, Chellapandi said, “We are planning two more reactors. Once after one year of successful operation of this PFBR, we have to watch, then we will seek government sanction for construction of two 600 MW reactors at Kalpakkam.

With the two proposed 600 MWs, we are optimising and constructing higher power with same costs,” he said.

“Afterwards we have to think of new places for putting four more units. The site selection committee is choosing some places and are studying suitable size. Immediate vision is to construct two FBRs at Kalpakkam and four more beyond 2030,” Chellapandi added.

On the first 500-MWe PFBR being set up, he said the PFBR (designed by Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research) construction is over and they are seeking clearance from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) in phases for sodium charging, fuel loading, reactor criticality and power rising (generation).

“AERB had already sent many specialists to the PFBR and we are also going for review process. Some experts are going to meet this month and we are likely to get clearance for sodium charging. After this we have to get clearance for fuel loading and that may happen in January-February and the reactor may become critical in March or April 2016,” Chellapandi said.

The senior nuclear scientist said this prototype fast breeder reactor uses MOX fuel, which is a combination of plutonium and uranium oxide.

“We will replace some bundles with actual fuel bundles then reactor/unit may become critical. By March or April, chain reaction will be sustained. It will be neutronically commissioned (by putting fuel and generating power) by April,” he said.