Modi witnesses core loading at breeder reactor in Kalpakkam

India is a step away from entering the second stage of its nuclear programme with the initiation of core loading at the home-built 500 MWe Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor here, a move described as “historic” by the government.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi witnessed the initiation of core loading at the Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR), which generates more power than it consumes and uses the nuclear waste — Uranium-238 — as fuel.

The prime minister toured the reactor vault and the control room of the PFBR along with National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Atomic Energy Commission Chairman A K Mohanty, Bhabha Atomic Research Center Director Vivek Bhasin and Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research Director B Venkataraman.

This 500 MWe fast breeder reactor has been developed by Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Limited (BHAVINI).

“Upon completion of the core loading, the first approach to criticality will be achieved, leading to generation of power subsequently,” an official statement said.

“In the spirit of Aatmanirbhar Bharat, PFBR is indigenously designed and constructed by BHAVINI with contributions from more than 200 Indian industries, including MSMEs,” the official statement said.

India has been running a Fast Breeder Test Reactor experimental facility since 1985. The FBTR was operated for about 120 days at 40 MWt and generated 21.5 million units of electricity last year.

The reactor core consists of control sub-assemblies, blanket sub-assemblies and fuel sub-assemblies.

The core loading activity consists of loading of reactor control sub-assemblies, followed by the blanket sub-assemblies and the fuel sub-assemblies which will generate power.

India has adopted a three-stage nuclear power programme with a closed fuel cycle. In the PFBR, marking the second stage of the programme, spent fuel from the first stage is reprocessed and used as fuel.

“A unique feature of this sodium-cooled PFBR is that it can produce more fuel than it consumes, helping in achieving self-reliance in fuel supply for future fast reactors,” the statement said.