IGCARs major atomic energy achievement

Chennai: Indias three-phased atomic energy programme is entering a decisive phase with the Fast Breeder Test Reactor (FBTR) nearing the 1,00,000-MWd/t burn-up stage without any fuel-pin failure.

(When nuclear fission occurs there is a simultaneous release of a large amount of energy and many fission products. The amount of the thermal energy released by a tonne of initially-present fissile elements [or a tonne of whole fuel] is termed as burn-up. Alternatively, burn-up can also be termed as the number of fission that have occurred per one hundred atoms of initially-present fissile elements.)

Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR) director S B Bhoje says: FBTR has reached the milestone on 2 September 2002. This is a major milestone not only for IGCAR but also for India as a whole. This achievement gives the necessary fillip for going ahead with the setting up of the 500 MW Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) at Kalpakkam, involving an outlay of Rs 2,800 crore.

Fast Breeder Reactors form the countrys second stage of its three-stage nuclear power programme. The first stage being Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWR) and the third and final stage being the thorium-based reactors. 

As a result, FBTR was initiated in 1972 at Kalpakkam and it attained criticality in 1985. This is the only reactor of its kind in the world to use plutonium-uranium mixed carbide fuel. The fuel was designed at IGCAR and developed and fabricated at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre.