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India’s first indigenous Fast Breeder Reactor

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: TH

 Context: PM witnessed core loading at India’s first indigenous Fast Breeder Reactor at Kalpakkam, Tamil Nadu.

  • This reactor, developed by BHAVINI, marks a significant step in India’s nuclear capabilities.

 

What is Core Loading?

Core loading is the process of placing nuclear fuel assemblies into the core of a nuclear reactor. This fuel comprises enriched uranium or plutonium pellets housed in metal tubes called fuel rods. Core loading is a critical step in initiating the reactor’s operation

 

What is FBR?

Fast Breeder Reactor (FBR) is a type of nuclear reactor that uses fast neutrons to cause the fission of uranium-238 (unlike conventional nuclear reactors that use slow neutrons). The term “breeder” refers to the ability of these reactors to produce more fissile material (Plutonium-239) than they consume.

FBR is the key to India’s three-stage nuclear power programme. Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR)  is capable of reprocessing both carbide and oxide fuels discharged from the fast reactors. Once commissioned, India will only be the second country after Russia to have commercial operating FBR. It initially employs Uranium-Plutonium Mixed Oxide (MOX) fuel and liquid sodium coolant. It is set to be operational by December 2024. By producing more plutonium than the fuel it consumes, PFBR reduces nuclear waste and is relatively safer than conventional reactors.

About BHAVINI:

Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Limited (BHAVINI) is a government company under the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE). Established in 2003, its primary goal is to construct and operate Fast Breeder Reactors (FBRs) for electricity generation. BHAVINI has built the 500 MWe Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) at Kalpakkam, representing India’s energy security future with technology from the Indira Gandhi Center for Atomic Research (IGCAR).