Prototype Fast-Breeder Reactor

#GS3 #Science&Technology #Energy 

 

Union Minister of State for Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh has said that Protoype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) being constructed by Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Limited (BHAVINI) is expected to get commissioned by October 2022. On completion of commissioning, PFBR will be adding 500 MW of electrical power to the national grid.

 

About Prototype Fast-Breeder Reactor 

  • The Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) is a 500 MWe fast breeder nuclear reactor presently being constructed at the Madras Atomic Power Station in Kalpakkam, Tamil Nadu. The Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR) is responsible for the design of this reactor.
  • The construction started in the year 2004, Originally planned to be commissioned in 2012, the construction of the reactor suffered from multiple delays. As of August 2020, criticality is planned to be achieved in 2021 (now October 2022).
  • The reactor is a pool-type reactor with 1,750 tonnes of sodium as coolant.

 

What is India’s three-phase nuclear power programme?

  • The Indian nuclear power programme, launched in 1954, envisaged a three-stage development of nuclear power generation from the country’s uranium and thorium resources.
  • The first stage programme consists of setting up of pressurised heavy water reactors (PHWRs). PHWRs are natural uranium-fuelled, heavy water moderated and cooled. The uranium reserves in the country are adequate to support the first stage nuclear power programme of 10,000 MWe through PHWRs. In addition to generating power, PHWRs progressively make available plutonium as a by-product. The technologies for the reprocessing of plutonium from spent PHWR fuel and for fabrication of plutonium bearing fuels have been systematically established in India through research and development over the past several years.
  • The second stage of the nuclear power programme consists of effective utilisation of plutonium in Fast Breeder Reactors (FBRs) which will provide the key to full utilisation of the country’s uranium resources and prepare the way for the long-term utilisation of the more abundant thorium reserves. FBRs enable generation of more fresh fissile material than is consumed for power production. With the deployment of FBRs, the depleted uranium and plutonium generated in the first stage will permit an additional power potential to the extent of 3,50,000 MWe.
  • During the later part of the second stage programme, it is proposed to use thorium as blanket material in FBRs to generate U-233, another fissile material for use in the third stage programme based on U-233 fuelled reactor systems.

 

Basics

  • Stage-I: envisages, construction of Natural Uranium, Heavy Water Moderated and Cooled Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs). Spent fuel from these reactors is reprocessed to obtain Plutonium.
  • Stage-II: envisages, construction of Fast Breeder Reactors (FBRs) fuelled by Plutonium produced in stage-I. These reactors would also breed U-233 from Thorium.
  • Stage-III: would comprise power reactors using U-233 / Thorium as fuel.
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