Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant. Photo Credit: Rusembassy.in
Details of existing and planned Indian nuclear reactors, safeguarded and unsafeguarded.
Under the Indo-US nuclear deal India agreed to place 14 out of its 22 commercial nuclear power reactors under safeguards, amounting to about two-thirds of current nuclear power generation as against two-fifths at present (Two reactors each at Tarapur, Rawatbhata and Koodankulam built with US, Canadian and Russian assistance respectively are already under safeguards). All future commercial power reactors will also be placed under international safeguards.
India currently operates 20 commercial nuclear power plants with a total installed capacity of 4,780 MW.
India is the sixth country in the world to have 20 or more nuclear power plants in operation.
Rajasthan-1 at Rawatbhata, near Kota, which was commissioned in 1973, has been shut down since October 2004 for techno-economic assessment for continued operation. As a result, only 19 of the 20 plants are operational.
The nuclear power capacity addition target for the XI plan (2007-12) is 3160 MW which will bring the total installed capacity to 7280 MW.
The Indian government sanctioned Rs 24,000 crore in October 2009 for building four units of 700 MW of PHWRs — two each at Kakrapar and Rawatbhata in Rajashtan. All the four reactors are expected to be commissioned by 2016/17.
A total of 6 commercial and one prototype reactors are currently under construction.
Two 1000 MW VVER type nuclear power plants at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu.
Two 700 MW PHWRs at Kakrapar in Gujarat (KAPP 3&4).
Two 700 MW PHWR at Rawatbhat, near Kota in Rajasthan (RAPP 7&8). [Construction started on July 17, 2011]
In addition, Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam is building a 500 MW prototype fast breeder reactor at Kalpakkam.
On progressive completion of these reactors, the installed nuclear power capacity will reach 10080 MW by the year 2017.
The Kudankulam project is being set up in technical cooperation with the Russian Federation. The project was initially delayed due to non sequential receipt of equipment from the Russian Federation and subsequently due to local protests impeding the work during September 2011 to March 19, 2012. The Government has taken steps to allay the legitimate apprehensions of the local people. The work has resumed round-the-clock since March 20, 2012.
The indigenously designed 700-MW PHWR is the latest, state-of-art-technology nuclear power reactor, which has been designed by NPCIL by scaling up its 540-MW PHWRs (TAPS-3&4) that are under successful operation at Tarapur in Maharashtra since 2005.
The 700-MW PHWRs have advanced safety features, including passive safety systems that work on natural principles like gravity, natural convection, etc. and do not need operator intervention or motive power to ensure reactor safety under any state of operation.
There are two independent and diverse systems to shut down the reactor, a ‘Passive Decay Heat Removal System’ to ensure cooling of the reactor core even in conditions of total loss of power, and steel-lined inner containment to contain the entire radioactivity within the reactor building even in a severe accident scenario.
The XII Five Year Plan proposals envisage start of work on 19 nuclear power reactors with a capacity of 17400 MW. The details are:
More reactors are planned to take the installed capacity to 20000 MW or more by the year 2020.
India plans to increase nuclear power generation from the current 4 per cent of total domestic energy production to 9 per cent within the next 25 years.
A capacity of 60,000 MW is planned by 2032, against current capacity of 4.7 GW.
Public sector NPCIL owns and operates of Nuclear Power Plants in India. In order to achieve capacity targets, the company will procure nuclear power equipment from suppliers worldwide like Areva, Rosatom, Toshiba and GE who will also be responsible for supplying the uranium fuel for the lifetime of the nuclear reactors.
Of the 19 reactors in operation, ten reactors with a capacity of 2840 MW comprising Kaiga Generating Station (KGS), Units 1 to 4 (4x220 MW), Narora Atomic Power Station (NAPS), Units 1&2 (2x220 MW), Madras Atomic Power Station (MAPS), Units 1&2 (2x220 MW) and Tarapur Atomic Power Station (TAPS), Units 3&4 (2x540 MW) are fuelled by indigenous uranium, which is not available in the required quantity.
Load factors of these plants maybe viewed here.
These 10 reactors are operated at comparatively lower power levels matching the fuel supply. The remaining 9 reactors which are under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards use imported fuel and are operating at rated capacity.
The work on a new mill and mine in Jharkhand has been completed and the production has stabilized resulting in augmentation of indigenous uranium. The work on new mill in Andhra Pradesh has also progressed.
India plans to use slightly enriched uranium (SEU) in its future 700 MWe Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs), instead of natural uranium as it has been doing so far.
Natural uranium contains just 0.7 per cent of the fissile isotope Uranium-235, the rest being the fertile isotope Uranium-238, which gets converted to Plutonium-239 through neutron absorption in the reactor during fission.
SEU contains 1.1 per cent of U-235 and its use boosts the fuel burn-up to as much as 20000 MWd/ton.
In contrast, the burn-up achieved with natural uranium in existing Indian PHWRs is about 6700-7000 megawatt-days (MWd)/ton.
SEU will be produced at the un-safeguarded facility at Chitradurga.
The Light Water Reactors (LWRs) installed at Kudankulam by Russia and those likely to be supplied by other foreign vendors use low enriched uranium (LEU), which has 3 to 5 per cent U-235 enrichment.
NPCIL has successfully tested the use of SEU in Indian built PHWRs by substituting a few natural uranium elements with SEU elements in some fuel bundles in the reactor core. The 700 MWe contains 4704 fuel bundles, each containing 37 fuel elements each.
The results were very encouraging and NPCIL plans to eventually use 40% SEU in the fuel bundles. Following its Nuclear Agreement with the US, India can freely import SEU for use in its safeguarded PHWRs.
The NFC has drawn up plans to produce SEU fuel bundles from the year 2018 to meet a projected demand of 10,000 bundles that is expected to grow to 55,000 bundles by 2030. [via The Hindu]
The trial run of the first unit (1,000 MW) is scheduled to begin on June 10, 2012 after loading the reactor with fuel (enriched uranium).
The trial run would go on for 15 days, and in stages, the reactor would reach criticality.
"In all probability, we can start getting power… in June itself," Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office V. Narayanasamy told The Hindu on Thursday, May 31, 2012.
The trial run has been delayed by more than an year because of a local agitation against the location of the plant.
In May 2011, site Director of KKNPP Kasinath Balaji told PTI over phone that the first reactor will be 'fully operational in another month or so."
A civil nuclear deal was signed in the presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Monday, December 7, 2009.
Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) and France's Areva signed a MOU on Wednesday, February 4, 2009, for construction of up to six new generation Evolutionary Power Reactors (EPRs) in western India.
Areva and India's Atomic Energy Department signed a commercial agreement in December, 2010 for the supply of 300 tons of uranium to be used in NPCIL nuclear reactors under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards.
Under the Indo-US civil nuclear deal, India has dedicated two nuclear reactor sites in Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat to US companies.
Progress on the construction of US supplied reactors is awaiting the passage of a liability legislation in India as desired by US suppliers.
Dr Homhi Bhabha, who is considered to be the father of the India's nuclear program, envisioned that nuclear power would be developed in three phases using nuclear fuel available in India. India, has limited reserves of natural uranium but abundant supply of thorium which can also be used to fuel nuclear reactors as an alternative to Uranium.
During the first phase, Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs) powered by natural uranium would be built. Seventeen such reactors are already operational. (As in October 2010)
In the second stage, a series of Fast Breeder Reactors (FBRs) would be built that would be fuelled using plutonium reprocessed from the PHWRs' spent fuel and their depleted uranium.
The FBRs will be able to generate about 6 lakh MWe with the country's known uranium reserves.
FBRs are called breeders because they breed more fuel than they consume.
In the third stage, abundant thorium reserves in India (25% of the world's thorium reserves) and Uranium-233 bred in FBRs will be used to fuel power reactors.
Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMD), a constituent unit of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), has established 3.74 million tones of Monazite in Andhra Pradesh which contains about 3,36,600 tonnes of thorium oxide equivalent to 2,96,000 tonnes of thorium metal. [via PIB]
The Fast Breeder Test Reactor (FBTR) at Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR), Kalpakkam went critical on October 18, 1985.
FBTR is one of the six fast reactors currently operating in the world. Life extension studies confirm that FBTR can be safely operated for at least ten more Effective Full Power years (EFPY).
FBTR was built with French technology, based on the design of the Rapsodie reactor which was in operation in the sixties. Eighty percent of the components used in the reactor were indigenous.
FBTR utilizes a novel fuel in the form of carbides of Plutonium and Uranium. The Pu content of the fuel is high (70%) which makes it unique in the world. The fuel was developed by joint research by BARC & IGCAR and manufactured to exacting standards. Its performance has been excellent in terms of the energy that can be extracted out of every gram (which is technically called by the term ‘burn-up’). The carbide fuel has reached a burn-up of 165kWd/g without any breach of its outer clad. This means that from every gram of the fuel, heat equivalent of 165 electrical heaters of one kilowatt capacity working for 24 hours has been extracted. What is interesting is that about 80% of the fuel is still unburnt. The recovery of the unspent fuel (which is called ‘reprocessing’) has been successfully demonstrated by IGCAR. Plutonium recovered from the spent fuel from FBTR has been fabricated into fresh fuel pins and loaded back into the FBTR thus closing the fuel cycle.
The operation of FBTR for the past 25 years has by and large been smooth and successful. Its four sodium pumps have been in trouble-free continuous cumulative service for nearly 6,75,000 hours. The sensitive leak detection systems of the steam generators which can detect nanogram levels of hydrogen in sodium have been in flawless, continuous operation for nearly 18 years. The unique small capacity turbine using such steam has been operating smoothly.
FBTR completed a major milestone in June 2010 when the mixed oxide fuel used in Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR), 500 MWe reached its intended burn-up of 100 kWd/g. The successful attainment of the target burn-up augurs well for the performance of the fuel in PFBR, 500 MWe.
In the coming years, FBTR will continue to be the work-horse for the testing of metallic fuels and advanced structural materials being developed at IGCAR for the next generation of fast reactors with higher breeding ratios. FBTR would continue to generate science based technologies for sodium cooled fast reactors and be a credible cradle for human resources development in this vital technology.