Fast Breeder Reactor at Kalpakkam

Fast Breeder Reactor at Kalpakkam


The “Core Loading” at India’s first indigenous Fast Breeder Reactor (500 MWe) at Kalpakkam, Tamil Nadu commenced.


GS-01 (Mineral & Energy Resources) GS-03 (Nuclear Technology)

Facts for Prelims:

  • Reaction Half-Life: The half-life of a chemical reaction is the time it takes for the concentration of a reactant to reach half of its initial concentration, or 50%.
  • Fission vs Fusion: Fission is the splitting of a heavy, unstable nucleus into two lighter nuclei, and fusion is the process where two light nuclei combine together releasing vast amounts of energy. While different, the two processes have an important role in the past, present and future of energy creation.




Key Highlights:

  • It is going to be India’s most advanced nuclear reactor – Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR).
  • The PFBR was indigenously designed and constructed by Bhartiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Ltd (BHAVINI) which was created in 2003 for this purpose.
  • Once commissioned, India will only be the second country after Russia to have a commercially operating Fast Breeder Reactor.

What are breeder reactors?

  • A breeder reactor is a type of nuclear reactor that produces more fissile material than it consumes during operation.
  • This is achieved by maintaining a high neutron economy, allowing for the creation of additional fissile fuel through the irradiation of fertile materials such as uranium-238 or thorium-232.
  • In essence, breeder reactors “breed” fuel for subsequent use.
  • Fast breeder reactors (FBRs) utilize fast, unmoderated neutrons to efficiently breed fissile plutonium, and potentially other transuranic elements, from fertile uranium-238.
  • The fast neutron spectrum also enables the breeding of fissile uranium-233 from thorium, providing flexibility in fuel options.

Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) :

  • The Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) is a notable example of this technology, currently under construction at the Madras Atomic Power Station (MAPS) in Kalpakkam, India.
  • Designed by the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR), the PFBR builds upon the knowledge gained from operating the lower-power Fast Breeder Test Reactor (FBTR).
  • The Kalpakkam PFBR is specifically designed as a sodium-cooled fast reactor, utilizing uranium-238 to breed plutonium.
  • The excess plutonium (or uranium-233 in thorium reactors) produced by each fast reactor can be utilized to establish additional reactors, thereby expanding India’s nuclear capacity to meet its energy requirements.