Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor
|Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor|
Location of Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor in Tamil Nadu
|Construction cost||$0.86 billion|
|Nuclear power station|
|Reactor type||fast breeder|
|Fuel supplier||Advanced Fuel Fabrication Facility (BARC)|
|Nameplate capacity||500 MW|
The Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) is a 500 MWe fast breeder nuclear reactor presently being constructed at the Madras Atomic Power Station in Kalpakkam, India. The Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR) is responsible for the design of this reactor. As of 2007 the reactor was expected to begin functioning in 2010 but now it is expected to achieve first criticality in January 2017. Construction is over and the owner/operator, Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Limited (BHAVINI), is waiting clearance from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB). Total costs, originally estimated at 3500 crore (35 billion Rupees, 450 million euros) are now estimated at 5,677 crore (750 million euros). The Kalpakkam PFBR is using uranium-238 not thorium, to breed new fissile material, in a sodium-cooled fast reactor design. The power island of this project is being engineered by Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited, largest power equipment utility of India.
The surplus plutonium (or uranium-233 for thorium reactors) from each fast reactor can be used to set up more such reactors and grow the nuclear capacity in tune with India's needs for power. The PFBR is part of the three-stage nuclear power program.
India has the capability to use thorium cycle based processes to extract nuclear fuel. This is of special significance to the Indian nuclear power generation strategy as India has one of the world's largest reserves of thorium, which could provide power for more than 10,000 years, and perhaps as long as 60,000 years.
The design of this reactor was started in the 1980s, as a prototype for a 600 MW FBR. Construction of the first two FBR are planned at Kalpakkam, after a year of successful operation of the PFBR. Other four FBR are planned to follow beyond 2030, at sites to be defined.
The reactor will be a pool-type reactor with 1,750 tonnes of sodium as coolant. Designed to generate 500 MWe of electrical power, with an operational life of 40 years, it will burn a mixed uranium-plutonium MOX fuel, a mixture of PuO
2 and UO
2. A fuel burnup of 100 GWd/t is expected. The Advanced Fuel Fabrication Facility (AFFF), under the direction of BARC, Tarapur, is responsible for the fuel rods manufacturing. AFFF comes under " Nuclear Recycle Board" of Bhabha Atomic Research Center. AFFF has been responsible for fuel rod manufacturing of various types in the past.
The fact that PFBR will be cooled by liquid sodium creates additional safety requirements to isolate the coolant from the environment, since sodium explodes if it comes into contact with water and burns when in contact with air. Another hazard associated with the use of sodium as a coolant is the absorption of neutrons to generate the radioactive isotope 24
There are two independent shutdown systems installed, designed to shut the reactor down effectively within a second. The reactor also has decay heat removal systems consisting of four independent circuits of 8MWt capacity each.
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