HYDERABAD: Hyderabad-based Nuclear Fuel Complex (NFC), which is responsibile for supplying fuel to nuclear power plants across India, is gearing up to feed the country's growing appetite for nuclear fuel, as NFC achieved record levels of production of Zirconium sponge and Uranium dioxide in year 2017-18.
Apart from this, NFC is also increasing its capacity to produce nuclear fuel indigenously, developing capacity for production of new Titanium and Nickel based alloys for usage in reactors, scaling up automation at its manufacturing units for higher production efficiency and improving safety and innovating new techniques for improving small but significant processes and manufacturing techniques undertaken at NFC.
In 2017-18 NFC produced a record 1,330MT of Uranium oxide, which was double the target of 765MW and also produced 1,500kg of Zirconium sponge, which is highest in the world. In the same year, NFC produced 1,260 tonnes of nuclear fuel which was for the first time produced indigenously through imported raw material. It also set up manufacturing facility for steam generator sets, at a cost of around Rs 800-1,000 crore.
Speaking to media on the sidelines of NFC Day event held on Friday, NFC, Chief Executive, Dr Dinesh Srivastava said, "Government of India has announced 10 reactors(nuclear) of 700 MW capacity. This is the first time they have announced as complete reactors, an advantage of which is that suppliers of various nuclear reactor components can plan their production and manufacturing accordingly. For the same, NFC has been given targets for meeting the future demands for which we have to increase production capacity by at least 150 percent as NFC is sole manufacturer of nuclear power and fuel for all the upcoming reactors."
He added, "Apart from the 10 reactors announced by the government recently, four reactors have already been announced which takes the total number of announced nuclear power plants to 14, with a combined capacity of about 10,000MW that are set to come up in the period 2021-2030. As of now we are making this fuel for reactors having capacity of about 2,600MW, which means we will have to increase our production to four times the present manufacturing capacity." The fuel requirement for these 14 new plants will be 3,000 tonnes, said Dr Srivastava.
Speaking at the NFC Day event, Bhabha Atomic Research Center, Director, KN Vyas told NFC to gear up for increasing their production of Super Nickel alloy from a few hundreds of tubes now to at least 10,000-12,000 tubes.
Keeping the challenge of increasing production fuel and allied components, NFC set up one more plant at Pazhayakayal in Tamil Nadu in Thoothikudi and another plant at Kota in Rajasthan, keeping in mind the fact that the Hyderabad facility of NFC cannot be expanded as it is located in the middle of the city. The TN plant is where the 1.5MT of Zirconium sponge is being manufactured, whereas the Kota plant planned with an outlay of more than Rs 2,000 crore will manufacture 1,000 tonne of nuclear fuel and other finished products like tubes from the Zirconium sponge.