CHENNAI: As the 500-mega watt Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) in Kalpakkam, which is an important milestone for India’s three-stage nuclear power programme, is just a step away, India is now trying to skill its nuclear workforce in fast reactor engineering.
Dr Arun Kumar Bhaduri, Distinguished Scientist and Director of Indira Gandhi Centre of Atomic Research and General Service Organisation (GSO), said that this year orientation training in fast reactor engineering would be offered in-house to qualify and orient nuclear workforce to the operation and maintenance requirements of the fast breeder reactors.
In total, six fast breeder reactor units are planned to be set up, out of which the first two units will come up at Kalpakkam (Tamil Nadu). Sites for the Units 3-4 and Units 5-6 are being identified.Training is currently offered in four disciplines - Mechanical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Nuclear Reactor Physics, and Nuclear Fuel Cycle Chemistry.
The in-house training programme was launched by Dr Homi Jehangir Bhabha in 1956 for skilling of nuclear workforce. Initially, the prestigious BARC training school, Mumbai was set up in 1956 to ensure that the country becomes self-reliant and self-sustaining in the field of nuclear science and technology. To meet the changing needs of the Department of Atomic Energy, four additional BARC training schools have come up at Hyderabad, Indore and Kalpakkam.
The fast breeder reactor, which breeds more material for a nuclear fission reaction than it consumes, is one of the key projects of India’s three-stage nuclear power programme. India became the sixth country to have such a technology, way back in 1985.
Fast breeder reactor is quite different from the conventional reactors, which are cooled by light or heavy water. Fast breeder reactors are cooled by liquid sodium which critics feel is dangerous as it reacts explosively with both air and water.
Meanwhile, the 12th batch of 29 trainee scientific officers from the Bhaba Atomic Research Centre Training School at the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research, Kalpakkam successfully completed their one-year orientation-cum-training in nuclear science and engineering on July 26.
500 MW capable reactor breeds more material for a nuclear fission reaction than it consumes