THE Koodankulam nuclear power project has been delayed due to late arrival of some components and the first unit may be ready by the end of the year or early next year, Atomic Energy Commission chairman Anil Kakodkar said on Sunday.
Addressing reporters at the Indira Gandhi Centre of Atomic Research (IGCAR) in Kalpakkam on Sunday, he said the delay in supply of equipment has hit the project. The first unit was to go on stream in December 2007. However, due to delay in equipment supplies from Russia the date of commissioning was revised to August 2009.
Kakodkar said the Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) at Kalpakkam in Tamil Nadu would attain criticality in 2011. Earlier, the reactor was scheduled to be completed by September 2010. “The entire foundation had to be modified. Due to that it was delayed by six to nine months. It is also a first of its kind technology, which is being mastered indigenously. However, we will cope up with the construction schedule to meet the deadline,” he said.
Kakodkar said India was also planning to build eight new reactors of 700 MW each to boost its nuclear power generation capacity. “We have already sought the approval of the government for four nuclear reactors. Construction work will begin soon... We have sent in the proposal for another four and will get the approval soon,” he said.
The eight reactors would add 5,600 MW to the existing 4,000 MW and they would be completed by 2013.
In response to a query on the shortage of uranium, a fuel for the nuclear reactor, Kakodkar said: “Our uranium production is going up and we expect to have sufficient uranium for our existing nuclear plants as well as the new ones that will come up as part of our expansion plans.”
“We have a mill at Jadugoda in Jharkhand, which are fed by three to four mines. We recently commissioned a mine in Turamdih and our uranium production will grow,” Kakodkar said.
“Simultaneously, we have also embarked on an expansion plan in Jadugoda and Turamdih. The Jadugoda expansion is almost complete and the Turamdih expansion will be completed some time next year. There is a project for uranium mine and mill at Thirumalaipalli in Andhra, which is under construction right now. I think it will be on stream in 2013,” the AEC chairman said.
“Our other projects include exploration at Gogi in Gulbarga district of Karnataka and a project in Meghalaya. We hope to start the Meghalaya project soon after getting all clearances. By 2012-2013, we would have overcome all the problems for reactors that are currently operating as well as reactors that are at an advanced stage of construction,” he said.
“We are looking forward to launch reactors for 700 MW units for which the government has also given an in-principle approval. We want to quickly get the approvals and start construction and the new proposal of uranium mines will come in handy for these projects,” he added.
India planning reactor to produce alternative fuel
India is planning a high temperature reactor to generate hydrogen by splitting water, in a bid to curb greenhouse emissions.
Addressing a press conference at the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research, AEC chairman Anil Kakodkar said Bhabha Atomic Research Centre has designed the compact reactor to demonstrate technology to produce hydrogen from water using very high temperature process heat generation (1,000 degree Celsius). It will help facilitate sustainable long-term production of alternative fuel for transport sector.
He said though India has the capability to produce indigenous nuclear reactors, it is planning to buy nuclear reactors from outside to satisfy the immediate needs.
“Indigenous nuclear programme will go on although we will be importing light water reactors from vendors abroad,” Kakodkar said.
He hailed the role of Bhaba Atomic Research scientists in the development of marine propulsion reactor technology giving an added advantage to Indian nuclear preparedness in the event of attack by an enemy.
“Building compact pressurised water reactor is more challenging than building a large scale reactor,” Kakodkar said.
He also said under the 123 agreement, Indian reactors will be able to avail of raw materials, fuel and components from other countries.
On the illegal developments in the sterile zone of the Kalpakkam nuclear complex, Kakodkar said influx of people can not be allowed. “There are stringent rules by Atomic Energy Commission banning unnatural growth and the state government is doing a good job implementing it,” he said.
The rumours spread by people in Kalpakkam on high levels of radiation in and around the villages and surrounding areas of the nuclear complex were denied by the AEC chairman. Journalists were taken into the nuclear complex by the Department of Atomic Energy to dispel the allegations of high levels of radiation and dumping of nuclear waste in the sea.
‘Half Boat’, full training
Welcome to the ‘Half Boat’’’ said an official as journalists stepped into a huge complex surrounded by giant sized machines and pipes at Kalpakkam. This is the country’s most secret project developed a few years ago by scientists of the Department of Atomic Energy, he said. Code-named Plutonium Recycle Project, the compact pressurized water reactor was the key to enhancing the country’s N-capabilities in the wake of a threat from an enemy. The reactor is capable for remaining underwater for a very long time, the sortie time depending on the endurance of the crew of the submarine, said Bhabha Atomic Research Centre director Dr S Banerji. “At most the crew can stay in for nearly three months,” said a senior naval officer who was present on the occasion.
The ‘Half Boat’ serves as a training centre for the nuclear submarine crew. The training is further supplemented with the help of an indigenously designed full scope simulator.
“We faced numerous challenges in designing a nuclear reactor for the submarine application. The first and foremost is that the system has to be designed in such a manner that the plant is very compact and its weight is minimal,” said one of the scientist working on the plant. The design team worked out a plant layout consisting of several high pressure, high temperature equipment.
“The entire propulsion plant with primary, secondary, electrical and propulsion systems along with its integrated control was packed in the aft end of the land-based submarine hull designed and built specifically for the purpose,” the scientist said. The unit also meets the requirements of public safety as applicable to a nuclear power station. The reactor has multistage emergency core cooling, pressure suppression and gas disposal systems and a biological shield tank.
The design ensures that the vessel neither releases radioactivity to the surroundings nor does it leave any radioactive trail under water. India is planning to develop two more N-submarines.