PFBR fuel fabrication and reprocessing facility to be built at Kalpakkam

Chennai: As a part of making the 500mw-prototype fast breeder reactor (PFBR) a completely self-sufficient project, a fuel fabrication and reprocessing facility for it at Kalpakkam has been finalised.

Speaking on the development Dr Baldev Raj, director, Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR) says, "We have mastered the fuel cycle technology. The mixed oxide (MOX) fuel has achieved a burn up of 50,000mw day / ton in the fast breeder test reactor. And it will go up to over 1-lakh-mw day / ton." (The amount of 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.)

As a result, officials feel that a fuel processing facility near the PFBR would be advantageous. The initial plan was to bring the fuel from the Tarapur atomic power plant.

While site clearance approval is awaited, officials say construction work for the proposed facility will start in 2007. This facility alone is expected to provide employment to around 1,000 people.

Similarly a new desalination plant is also under consideration to meet the water requirements after PFBR and fuel fabrication and reprocessing units go on stream.

IGCAR, which designed the PFBR, is one of the two promoters of Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Limited (Bhavini) the company that owns the Rs3,492-crore project. The other promoter is the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited.