Nuclear Energy in India : Updates

Himanshu

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Kudankulam nuclear power plant (KKNPP) is being built since 2013 in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. KKNPP’s Unit 1 began its operation in 2013 and was handed over to India three years later. Unit 2 was first connected to India’s national grid in August 2016.

NEW DELHI (Sputnik) — On Tuesday, a source in the Nuclear Power Corporation on India Limited (NPCIL) told Sputnik that both power units of the Kudankulam NPP were working at full capacity and generated 2,000 megawatts (MW) southern India's electricity grid.

"Kudankulam NPP Unit 1 generation was 1000 MW. Unit 2 reached 1000 MW at 03.30AM today morning [22:00 GMT Monday]. First time we have reached 2000MW output from KKNPP," the source said.

He added that the NPP had become the most powerful not only in India but in the entire region.
"The Russian-designed Kudankulam NPP constructed in collaboration between NPCIL and Atonstroexport JSC, equipped with the advanced state of the art, enhanced post-Fukushima safety features, became the most powerful in India and whole South Asia," the source said.

The works on Kudankulam NPP are carried out by two organizations within Russia's Rosatom state nuclear corporation. The bilateral agreement on the plant’s construction between Moscow and New Delhi was signed in November 1988.
 

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Russia Begins Delivery of Equipment for Unit-3 of India's Kudankulam NPP


Atomenergomash — a division of Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation ROSATOM — has shipped out the first batch of equipment for the construction of the turbine for the third unit of India's Kudankulam nuclear power plant (NPP) on March 13.

New Delhi (Sputnik) — The company said that two high-pressure heaters of a total requirement of four will be delivered to India using multimodal transport. It will be first shipped out from Podolsk by rail to Saint-Petersburg seaport, then by water transport through Baltic and Mediterranean Sea, Suez Canal, Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.

"Particularly, the first two high-pressure heaters (HPH) were dispatched. This is a welded vertical apparatus with the lower disposition of the distributor water chamber. It is intended for feed water heating through condensation of steam. Four HPH will be delivered for each NPP unit," Atomenergomash said in a statement.

SC Atomenergomash is a supplier of the key equipment for Kudankulam NPP. The company manufactures steam generators, main circulation pumps, pressure compensators, pipe fittings, ancillary pumps, other equipment for reactor hall and turbine building.


© AP PHOTO/ ARUN SANKAR K., FILE

The working design documentation has been elaborated by Rosatom enterprise PJSC ZiO-Podolsk, which also implements the follow-up of the manufacturing and subsequent site mounting supervision on the nuclear power plant site.

In 2003-2004 PJSC ZiO-Podolsk manufactured equipment for Kudankulam NPP, units 1, 2: eight sets of the steam generators PGV-1000 each, moisture separator reheaters MSR-1000-1, high-pressure heaters, and also 24 heat-exchanging modules of the passive heat removal system (PHRS), pipelines of different purposes and filters.

The first pour of concrete for reactor foundation slab of unit-3 was done on June 29, 2017. The units are expected to be completed in the year 2023-24.

Meanwhile, the Indian government has accorded administrative approval and financial sanction for construction of twelve more nuclear power reactors — ten indigenous 700 MW Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs) to be set up in fleet mode and two units of Light Water Reactors (LWRs) to be set up in cooperation with the Russian Federation.

It has also accorded "in principle" approval of sites for locating future reactors based both on indigenous technologies and with foreign technical cooperation to enhance nuclear power capacity in the country.
 
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India’s closed cycle

A closed fuel cycle can help India reduce its high-level waste while meeting its goal of a sustainable nuclear programme. Saurav Jha looks in more detail.

INDIA’S DEPARTMENT OF ATOMIC ENERGY (DAE) believes that the adoption of a closed fuel cycle is necessary for the efficient use of uranium resources, reduction of high level waste (HLW) and large scale utilisation of its thorium reserves. Since India’s three-stage nuclear programme (Figure 1) envisages the creation of a fast breeder reactor (FBR) fleet as a stepping stone to sustainable thorium use in thermal breeders, DAE is scaling up front-end and back- end activities.

The three-stage programme involves reactors using natural uranium and enriched uranium in Stage 1, plutonium-driven FBRs in Stage 2 and thorium-232/ uranium-233 cycle based ‘thermal breeders’ in Stage 3. The FBRs of the second stage will be loaded with plutonium and reprocessed uranium (RU) from the first stage as fuel. After sufficient FBR capacity has been built up via a closed uranium-238/plutonium-239 cycle, Th-232 will be introduced in the blanket regions of FBRs to breed U-233. This U-233 will serve as fuel for Stage 3 thorium-based breeders.

DAE already operates industrial-scale fuel cycle activities for its Stage 1 fleet of U-235-based reactors which comprises pressurised heavy water reactors (PHWRs) and a few light water reactors (LWRs).

Indian goals
India’s programme grew amidst years of isolation from international nuclear trade. As a result, DAE has expertise across the nuclear fuel cycle, including mineral exploration, mining and processing, heavy water production, fuel fabrication, reprocessing and managing waste. India is self-sufficient in producing heavy water, zirconium alloy components and other materials and supplies for PHWRs. It also has enrichment capability which it is now looking to expand in a new facility.

The goal is to have 22GWe of Stage 1 plant in place by 2032 (up from 6780MWe now), and several hundred GWe of Stage 1-3 nuclear capacity in place by the second half of the 21st century.

Even though India now has access to global uranium resources and has seen a marked increase in its own domestic uranium reserves, it believes a once-through cycle will not fulfil the energy security role expected from India’s nuclear programme. So spent fuel is seen as a vital resource in India, not waste.

DAE expects to extract sixty times more energy from its uranium resources by successfully cycling it thrice through a fleet of FBRs in Stage 2 on the way to unlocking the potential of its thorium reserves. FBRs will also play a role in the transmutation of minor actinides (MAs), and India’s demonstration plant for actinide separation is already operational. Once accelerator driven sub-critical system (ADSS) technology becomes mature, DAE thinks dealing with alpha-level HLW will become less of an issue.

With its closed cycle approach, DAE expects to greatly reduce the volume of HLW meant for final disposal, by transmuting minor actinides into fission products and long-lived fission products into nuclides with short half-lives.

Closed cycles do not preclude the need for final waste disposal, so investigations into a geological repository are also underway in India. Waste from reprocessing also exhibits a significantly lower level of radioactivity, which after a century declines faster than the radioactivity in used nuclear fuel.

Front end
India now has access to uranium imports and 14 Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) reactors totalling 4380MWe are currently operating (under safeguards) on imported fuel. The remaining eight unsafeguarded reactors in NPCIL’s fleet (totalling 2400MWe) are fuelled with domestically mined uranium.

Even though fuel imports from abroad have gone a long way towards restoring NPCIL’s power plant load factors, DAE is not happy with a situation where a majority of its power generating reactors depend on uranium from overseas.

DAE’s Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMD) has been carrying out extensive radiometric, geochemical and geophysical surveys across India to find new uranium deposits. DAE declared in late 2016 that India’s U3O8 reserve had been augmented by over 15,011tU due to new finds in Andhra Pradesh, Meghalaya, Rajasthan and Jharkhand. DAE says that India now has at least 2,44,947tU of in situ U3O8 reserves.

That number is enough for DAE to target ‘self-sufficiency’ in uranium production for NPCIL’s requirements in another 15 years. Shekhar Basu, chair of India’s Atomic Energy Commission and secretary, DAE, recently remarked to a domestic TV channel, “When I joined the atomic energy programme we were told India has just about 60,000 tons of mineable uranium. But today the quantity has grown by four to five times. Government is fully supporting us to make India uranium self-sufficient”. India’s perceived lack of uranium resources had been a key rationale for the three-stage programme and for opening up India to nuclear trade. DAE maintains its interest in the closed-cycle approach although it no longer sees India as ‘uranium poor’.

While the identification of new U3O8 reserves is good news for DAE, mining and ore processing will have to speed up, if DAE is to achieve its ‘self-sufficiency’ target. The Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL), an enterprise under DAE, is responsible for mining and milling uranium in India. It operates seven mines in the state of Jharkhand at Jaduguda, Bhatin, Narwapahar, Turamdih, Bagjata, Banduhurang and Mohuldih. It also has two processing plants co-located with the mines at Jaduguda and Turamdih.

Underground mining at a new mine at Tummalapalle, Andhra Pradesh, which is estimated to have half of India’s known reserves, has achieved full production capacity and a co-located processing plant is also expected to reach full capacity soon, with sufficient ore already stockpiled for processing operations.

UCIL is expected to invest almost a billion dollars in new mines across India. It is even reviving the processing of copper tailings at Musabani, Jharkhand to recover uranium-bearing minerals.

UCIL’s processing plants at Jaduguda and Turamdih use standard acid leach techniques for the production of yellow cake or magnesium diuranate (MDU). The plant at Tummalapalle, which will have a peak capacity of about 3000tU per day, however, uses an alkaline pressure leach process technology to produce sodium diuranate (Na2U2O7 ). DAE has also developed a counter-current solvent extraction process employing a combination of neutral extractants to remove impurities from ‘crude’ SDU-nitric acid leach solution.

Fuel fabrication
The output of UCIL’s processing plants ends up at the Nuclear Fuel Complex (NFC), Hyderabad. Uranium imports, in the form of MDU, enriched uranium hexafluoride (UF6) or uranium dioxide (UO2) pellets (enriched and unenriched) are also sent to NFC for fuel fabrication purposes.

NFC first converts and refines MDU into UO2 powder which is pelletised. The pellets are put into elements which are assembled to form PHWR fuel bundles using contemporary welding, machining and assembly techniques.

In the past, NFC fabricated PHWR fuel of varying designs such as the 19-element wire wrap, 19-element split spacer, 22-element split spacer and a 37-element split spacer, all of which of course contain natural UO2 pellets. In recent times, NFC’s main unit at Hyderabad has turned out record amounts of PHWR fuel. In 2016/17, it produced 1512t of nuclear fuel, surpassing its own record of 1503t during the previous financial year, 2015/16. This is far in excess of the total annual fuel requirement of India’s existing PHWR fleet. The original capacity of NFC’s fuel fabrication plant was 1250t/yr. Process improvements have included a high concentration uranyl nitrate feed in the plant’s slurry unit, new coalescers of in-house design in the mixer-settler unit and a new end settler in the slurry unit. Further improvements are underway at this plant to increase its capacity to 2000t/yr.

By 2022 a new NFC facility will be built at the Rajasthan plant site at Rawatbhatta. It will have a capacity of 800-1000t/yr and is being set up at a cost of just under $3 billion to cater to the requirements of existing and new PHWR units there.

NFC says that the excess production of PHWR fuel demonstrates its ability to scale up output to meet the projected requirements of the new 700MWe PHWRs currently under construction, which would each require about 125t of natural uranium-based 37-element fuel bundles annually.

A much smaller unit at Hyderabad is used to fabricate 36- and 49-rod fuel assemblies with enrichment levels of 2.66%, 2.1% and 1.6%, for NPCIL’s two BWRs at Tarapur. These fuel assemblies use enriched UF6 imported from Russia, which NFC converts into enriched UO2. This unit has a capacity of only 25t/yr and last year it met a target to deliver 100 fuel assemblies. Over the years many industrial improvements such as the use of fully annealed thick wall fuel sheaths, short and chamfered pellets, and pre-pressurisation of fuel elements have enhanced fuel performance in Tarapur 1&2. Many BWR fuel assembly components, including spacers, top and bottom tie plates, have been indigenised by NFC. Its success in being able to fabricate BWR fuel assemblies has given NFC the confidence to consider setting up a large LWR fuel fabrication facility in collaboration with foreign players. Such a facility may have a capacity of around 1000t/yr and would initially use imported enriched UF6 and UO2 feedstocks. Fuel assemblies for India’s Russian-origin VVER fleet will likely be the main product of this facility.

Over time, DAE intends to supply the new facility with domestically-enriched uranium. India currently operates a small enrichment plant at Ratenhalli in Karnataka, which uses gas centrifuges, and is primarily meant for military purposes. However, its capacity is being expanded to 25,000 separative work units per year (SWU/yr) and it does provide limited quantities of enriched compounds to the research and power generation programmes. In the near future, it is likely to supply some slightly enriched uranium (SEU) for India’s PHWRs as well. A much larger enrichment plant, called the Special Material Enrichment Facility (SMEF) is under construction at Challakere, Karnataka and this too will use mature gas centrifuge technology.

Support facilities
To increase fuel production NFC has to increases its ‘zirconium stream’ – manufacture of zircaloy-clad tubes and components, through a series of steps that begins with the conversion of zirconium sand, supplied by the DAE controlled Indian Rare Earths Limited (IREL) to nuclear grade zirconium oxide (ZrO2) powder. The latter is converted into zirconium sponge metal, which is alloyed with chromium, iron, nickel and tin to produce ingots of zirconium alloys or zircaloys. These are converted into ‘structurals’ such as pressure tubes, calandria tubes, garter springs and reactivity control mechanisms.

Another critical aspect for the ongoing PHWR fleet expansion is the uninterrupted supply of heavy water (D2O). DAE’s Heavy Water Board (HWB) is the world’s largest producer of D2O and its plants managed to achieve 115% of their cumulative production target last year. The Manuguru plant, the largest D2O producing facility in the world, completed 25 years of operation last year with its total lifetime output exceeding 5000t of nuclear grade D2O. An important factor that determines viability of these plants is their energy consumption which was found to be 27.9GJ/kg D2O last year – below HWB’s budget. HWB also produces critical inputs for India’s FBR programmes such as nuclear grade sodium for coolant purposes and enriched boron. A 600t/yr sodium plant is being developed.

Besides zirconium sand, IREL also supplies nuclear grade thorium oxide (ThO2) that it mills from monazite to NFC’s ThO2 pelletising plant at Hyderabad.

ThO2 fuel was previously fabricated for the reflector region in the now decommissioned CIRUS reactor, as reactivity load in the Dhruva Research Reactor in Bhabha Atomic Research Centre’s (BARC’s) Trombay campus, and for flux flattening purposes in PHWRs.

NFC’s Fast Reactor Facility also makes thorium-based fuel core sub-assemblies for the blanket region of the Fast Breeder Test Reactor (FBTR) located on the campus of the Indira Gandhi Centre For Atomic Research (IGCAR) in Kalpakkam. It will build ten different types of core sub-assemblies for the 500MWe Protoype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) at IGCAR. However, the materials used to fabricate various components of the sub-assemblies for the PFBR differ from those used in the FBTR. D9 austenitic stainless steel (SS) has been used for the fuel clad tubes and the hexagonal channels, while SS 316 low nitrogen (LN) has been used to manufacture bulk components. The hexagonal channels manufactured at NFC are of the seamless variety, while elsewhere in the world these channels are usually seam welded.

The 79%/21% (U/Pu)O2 mixed oxide (MOX) pins that have gone into the fuel sub-assemblies for the first core of the PFBR were made by BARC ‘s Advanced Fuels Fabrication Facility (AFFF) in Tarapur, with fuel cladding supplied by NFC. These were delivered to the FBTR complex in 2016. At IFSB, NFC has commissioned a robotic welding system which puts together fuel sub-assemblies in their final shapes using the AFFF supplied MOX pins and other components built by NFC.

Each PFBR fuel sub-assembly consists of 217 helium- bonded MOX pins, and 181 such sub-assemblies form a part of its core. A PFBR prototype 37-pin assembly fabricated by AFFF has experienced a 112GWd/t peak burnup at a linear heat rating of 450W/cm in the FBTR’s core. In the past, AFFF has also made MOX elements for use in PHWR bundles and it has been observed these can increase average fuel burnup from 6700MWd/t to about 10,700MWd/t. MOX fuel assemblies have also been made by AFFF for BWRs, and MOX fuel fabricated from safeguarded reprocessed uranium and plutonium will be used for India’s growing PWR fleet in the future.

Both AFFF and NFC are involved in the development of (Th/Pu) MOX and (Th/U-233) MOX fuel for the 300MWe Advanced Heavy Water Reactor, which will at equilibrium derive 65 percent of its power from U-233 that has been bred in situ. India is also developing metallic fuels with short doubling time for use in India’s future FBRs.

Back end
A sizeable spent fuel inventory is stored in India before being sent for reprocessing.

All new PHWRs have spent fuel pools with a capacity of 10 reactor years. Storage at reprocessing plants is much smaller. The storage is based on the guidelines given in International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA’s) TECDOC-1250. The design life of the civil structure is expected to be 50 calendar years. Every SFSF has a single failure proof electric overhead traveling crane of 75t capacity, which can handle 70t shipping casks.

DAE believes that Purex technology can be successfully employed to recover of both uranium and plutonium with yields exceeding 99.5 percent.

Reprocessing
After spending around three years in storage, spent fuel is considered for reprocessing. India has so far reprocessed about 250t of spent fuel using the Purex method at Trombay, Tarapur and Kalpakkam. The 60t/yr Trombay facility reprocesses aluminium-clad spent fuel from research reactors and has traditionally been used for military purposes. The 100t/yr plants at Tarapur and Kalpakkam process zircaloy-clad oxide fuels from PHWRs. In 2010 a legacy plant at Tarapur was replaced by a new state-of-the art facility called PREFRE-2 , which shares the spent fuel pool, ADU conversion facility and utility services with its predecessor. PREFRE-2 which has five process cells in a row, is designed to process spent fuel from 220MWe PHWRs with an average burnup of 7000MWd/tU and a cooling period of more than three years.

PREFRE-2 builds on the design maturity reached with the Kalpakkam reprocessing plant and the safety lessons learnt from an accident that put Kalpakkam out of commission during 2003-2009. But it is refurbished and back in operation, and its capacity will be doubled by the addition of PREFRE-3A, alongside an expansion in the adjacent waste immobilisation plant, WIP-3A. DAE says that its reprocessing units have achieved substantial reduction in waste volume over the years by using salt-free reagents. These plants use evaporation followed by acid reduction by formaldehyde to reduce the volume of HLW. DAE believes that Purex technology can be successfully employed to recover of both uranium and plutonium with yields exceeding 99.5 percent.

To treble India’s current reprocessing capability and move things to an industrial scale, the construction of the Integrated Nuclear Recycle Plant (INRP) is underway at Tarapur with facilities for both reprocessing of PHWR and LWR fuel, and waste management.

Meanwhile, the construction of the Fast Reactor Fuel Cycle Facility (FRFCF), Kalpakkam is also gaining momentum. IGCAR’s Reprocessing Development Laboratory (RDL) is currently developing pyro-chemical reprocessing which has been successfully demonstrated at the laboratory and engineering scale for various FBR test fuels.

An engineering scale facility for U-233 separation operates at Trombay to reprocess U-233 from ThO2 rods irradiated in the Dhruva reactor. A much larger Power Reactor Thoria Reprocessing Facility (designed to cope with the high gamma radiation associated with U-232) is also operation at Trombay and it recently completed reprocessing its second batch of ThO2 with the recovered U-233 being used in the AHWR Critical Facility.

High-Level Waste
Though vitrification of HLW from PHWR spent fuel in borosilicate glass is an industrially established process in India and investigations into phosphate-based vitrification of FBR discharged HLW is in progress, BARC has now gone beyond Purex for major actinide partitioning purposes. The engineering scale Actinide Separation Demonstration Facility (ASDF) in Tarapur has already demonstrated alpha separation from HLW of more than 99.9 percent at a throughput of 35 litres per hour (l/hr). ASDF uses three distinct solvent extraction cycles: Purex to separate uranium and plutonium from concentrated HLW; Truex-CMPO to separate the bulk of actinides along with rare earths; and an indigenously modified Talspeak process to remove trivalent actinides from lanthanides. The latter enables solvent extraction of americinium-241.

ASDF also has a spent solvent management facility integrated with it to take care of the solvents spent in the partitioning process. India’s actinide separation strategy includes recovering useful fission products such as Cs-137 and Sr-90 before final disposal. Meanwhile, AMD continues exploratory work into selecting a deep geological repository for final disposal.
 
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Himanshu

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India Risks Default on Russian Loan Repayment for NPP Projects Amid Fund Crisis

India's critical nuclear projects have been left in the lurch due to a severe funding shortage. The dearth of funds with the nuclear power corporation has put it in an embarrassing situation, as it has not been able to repay loans availed from Russia for the ongoing nuclear power plant projects.

New Delhi (Sputnik): India's Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) is reportedly staring at a huge financial crisis that may force the organization to default the repayment of a loan availed from Russia for the second consecutive year. The DEA fears that non-availability of funds will also pull the brakes on the ongoing nuclear power projects. Furthermore, new projects that were to be started this year have been indefinitely put off.

The DAE had asked the finance ministry for $672 million (INR 4,305 crore) as budgetary support to the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) in 2017-18 on account of a shortfall of earlier years in receipt of equity, as well as Russian credit of $610 million (INR 3903 crore). But, according to the DAE, the finance ministry granted only $224 million for the year to NPCIL, which left the department with $117 million towards Russian loan after meeting other expenses. Out of this, only $31 million has been paid towards loan till December 2017.

"As against the demand of equity and loan of $610 million, only $224 million was given in Budget Expenditure 2018-19 against cumulative demand including previous years shortfall, totalling $672 million, out of which $224 million has been provided in Revised Expenditure 2017-18, leaving balance of $448 million in BE 2018-19," the DAE explained before the parliamentary standing committee on atomic energy.

Despite a fund gap towards investment and a loan of $448 million from the previous year, the finance ministry has only given $260 million for 2018-19. This gap would once again leave the NPCIL in an embarrassing situation, as it will hardly able to repay the Russian loan for the second consecutive year. This will not only put India on the defaulters' list of its old ally Russia, but the ongoing co-development of nuclear power projects in Kudankulam in India's south is also likely to receive a jolt as the credit arrangement between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of India required NPCIL to make repayment at regular term in order to receive critical equipment from Russian suppliers.

"Important programs such as power generation of NPCIL are the backbone of nuclear power program of India and hence, critical component such as provision towards repayment of Russian credit must not be made to suffer for want of funds," the parliamentary panel said, asking the ministry of finance to make available the required funds to NPCIL and DAE.

Russia has been the major force behind the construction of nuclear power projects in Kudankulam, including providing three quarters of the funds for the cost of the first two projects at minuscule cost. Russia has also started delivery of equipment to the third and fourth nuclear units of Kudankulam earlier this month. The third and fourth units of the KKNPP project will cost approximately $6.1 billion. The fifth and sixth units of KKNPP project cost approximately $7.7 billion; which will be commissioned by 2023. The joint project is funded in 70:30 debt-equity ratios. The Russian government is lending $4.2 billion to India.
The massive shortage of funds has also impacted critical research and development in the atomic energy sector. The problem has also stalled the progress in setting up a critical cancer research hospital in the northern town of Varanasi — from which Prime Minister Narendra Modi was elected as a parliamentarian.

"Due to non-availability of funds, there is no scope to take up any new project in this year. Under aided institutions, ongoing projects of Tata Memorial Centre at Varanasi, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh and Guwahati could not be taken up as no additional funds were provided in revised estimate 2017-18. However, no additional funds have been allocated under aided institutions in BE 2018-19. Under Establishment expenditure, no additionality has been provided to the department over and above the revised estimate 2017-18 allocation, which may adversely affect the production facilities and as well as R&D Units," the DAE acknowledged before the parliamentary standing committee of atomic energy.

The establishment expenditure head includes pay and allowance and operational expenses of various industrial and research facilities. The fund crunch is also making it hard for the DAE to work on nation building research and development projects such as accelerators, lasers, supercomputers, including those necessary for building accelerator driven sub-critical reactor systems (ADS), high-temperature reactor systems and fusion technologies.
 
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A path to Jaitapur

A March agreement envisages the start of work on six EPR reactors at Jaitapur in 2018. Saurav Jha examines whether this long-anticipated project will finally get off the ground.



French president Emmanuel Macron’s vIsIt to India in March saw the conclusion of an ‘Industrial Way Forward Agreement’ (IWFA) between Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) and EDF, for the Jaitapur nuclear power project. EDF chair and CEO Jean-Bernard Lévy described this as a “decisive step”, which meant it was now possible to “envisage with confidence the rest of this essential project for India and for EDF”.

Lévy’s enthusiastic appraisal likely stemmed from the fact that the IWFA addresses Indian concerns about the industrial arrangements around the project. The IWFA has provisions for a preliminary tender by EDF to be submitted in the weeks following its signature, and a ‘binding’ EDF tender by the end of 2018. However, India’s Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), which controls NPCIL, intends to stick to its philosophy of agreeing to build foreign reactor designs only if a reference plant is operational. So a ‘final’ contract will only happen once DAE gets to study the post-commissioning progress of Taishan 1 in China and Flamanville 3 in France.

EDF submitted a new proposal for six EPR units to be sited at Jaitapur in Maharashtra to NPCIL and India’s Ministry of External Affairs in July 2016. This fresh proposal was required because Areva had been taken over by EDF. India sought clarity on the industrial arrangements in terms of workshare and timelines for the project before it could move forward. Given the significant delays and cost overruns in EPR build programmes elsewhere, NPCIL wanted France to take responsibility for engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) for the first two units. With the IWFA, France has acceded to NPCIL’s demands and EDF will undertake all engineering studies and all component procurement activities for the first two reactors. For the other four units, the responsibility for some purchasing activities and studies may be assigned to local companies.

NPCIL will be responsible for obtaining all authorisations and certifications required in India, and for constructing all six reactors and site infrastructure. EDF and its industrial partners will assist NPCIL during construction. This places India at variance with China, which sought to keep most of the EPC-related activities in its EPR build programme.

With EDF responsible for all component procurement, the first two Jaitapur reactors will almost entirely be made up of imported equipment. This will have an impact on capital costs, as local procurement may have been cheaper. But given the concerns that have cropped up about EPR forgings in Flamanville and Taishan, India thought it best to make France responsible for ensuring the quality of parts supplied for the first two units, even if it had to forego localisation. And the cost advantages of a greater domestic share of engineering and procurement might be offset by cost escalation, due to delays and the need to replace equipment during construction that would inevitably result, given that NPCIL is not familiar with the EPR design.

The ‘Make in India’ plan for the Jaitapur project will now be based on the experience from the first two units. According to EDF, the aim is to achieve 60 percent localisation with the last two EPRs.

EDF also signed two cooperation agreements with French and Indian industrial players during Macron’s visit. The first, with Assystem, Egis, Reliance and Bouygues, covers installation of an engineering platform for studies within the scope of the Jaitapur project and looks to set up a joint venture with majority EDF stakeholding that will be responsible for engineering integration. The second, with Larsen & Toubro, AFCEN and Bureau Veritas, covers the creation of a centre to train local companies on the technical standards applicable to the manufacture of equipment for Jaitapur.

DAE sees the upskilling of Indian companies in component manufacturing and construction as key to the Jaitapur build programme.

France wants NPCIL to ensure Jaitapur’s smooth progress with respect to renewing environmental clearances, corporate social issues and navigating India’s regulatory landscape. The July 2016 EDF proposal explicitly sought guarantees for ‘the same level of protection’ in relation to liability that is available at the international level, citing the Vienna Convention on Liability. Now it seems that France may be reconciled to India’s current liability regime.

Even as France tries to move the Jaitapur project to the contractual stage, DAE will want to study the post- commissioning experience of Taishan 1, which has undergone hot tests, and Flamanville 3 which has completed its cold functional tests. France is aware of this Indian requirement. France’s Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) shared with DAE the assessment of the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) with respect to the EPR design’s post-Fukushima safety appraisal and assured India that there will be no additional costs to ensure the EPR’s safety in the post-Fukushima regulatory environment.

It does seem that Jaitapur may finally be becoming a reality in the not too distant future.
 

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21 nuclear reactors with 15,700 Mw total installed capacity under implementation, says govt

However, it ruled out increasing the generation capacity of the existing plants.

Currently, there are nine nuclear power reactors at various stages of construction which are expected to be completed by 2024-25, Union Minister Jitendra Singh said in the Lok Sabha.

In reply to questions, he said 12 more reactors were accorded administrative approval and financial sanction in June last year.

The Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office said that together 21 nuclear power reactors, with an installed capacity of 15,700 MW are under implementation and envisaged for progressive completion by 2031.

Besides, in-principle approval has been given for five sites for setting up nuclear plants, he said during the Question Hour.

These sites are in Jaitapur (Maharashtra), Kovvada (Andhra Pradesh), Chhaya Mithi Virdi (Gujarat), Haripur (West Bengal) and Bhimpur (Madhya Pradesh).

To a query on whether the government was considering increasing the capacity of the existing nuclear power plants, Singh replied in the negative.

"The existing units are operating at their rate capacity. The unit size of indigenous Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs) has already been increased from 220 MW to 540 MW and then to 700 MW, which are now under construction.

"In addition, Light Water Reactors of 1,000 MW have also been introduced with foreign cooperation," the minister said.

Singh also said the government has taken several measures to enable setting up of nuclear power reactors.

These include resolution of issues related to Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act and creation of Indian Nuclear Insurance Pool, he added.


India’s $17Bln 6,000 MW Nuclear Power Park to be Ready by 2026

Two 1,000 MW reactors at Kudankulam are currently fully operational at their rated capacity while another two units are under construction. Work on the fifth and sixth units has also commenced.

New Delhi (Sputnik): India's Kudankulam will become the country's first nuclear power park by 2026. A nuclear power park refers to a site with a number of large capacity reactors that have a total capacity of 6,000 MW or more.

While the first and second units of the Kudankulum Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP) are fully operational, the third and fourth units are being constructed at a cost of approximately $6 billion. The government has sanctioned $7.5 billion to the fifth and sixth units of the plant. The overall cost of the the nuclear park will be around $17 billion.
"The total completion cost of the six units at Kudankulam is INR 111932 crore ($17 billion). The units at the site are expected to be completed progressively by 2025-26," Jitendra Singh, India's minister of state for atomic energy, informed the Parliament on Thursday.

India aims to complete the construction of seven other nuclear power reactors, presently at different stages of construction, in the next seven years at a cost of $7.5 billion. In addition, 12 more nuclear power reactors were accorded administrative approval and sanctioned by the government in June 2017.
 

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Viability of Nuclear Power Projects

In the next three years, a capacity of 3300 MW is expected to be added by completion of three projects under construction viz. Kakrapar Atomic Power Project (KAPP) 3&4 (2X700 MW) at Kakrapar, Gujarat, Rajasthan Atomic Power Project RAPP 7&8 (2 X 700 MW) at Rawatbhata, Rajasthan and Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) (500 MW) at Kalpakkam, Tamil Nadu. However, as the targets for nuclear power generation are set on an annual basis as a part of Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited’s (NPCIL’s) annual Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), the targets of generation including from these units for the next three years will be set in the MoUs of the respective years.
The capital cost of nuclear power plants is higher than that of other base load electricity generating technologies. However, the energy (fuel) cost is much lower. Thus, the tariff of electricity generated by nuclear power plants is comparable to that of other contemporary base load technologies like coal and gas. Nuclear power projects are thus viable.
Nuclear power is a clean, environment friendly technology available 24X7. It has huge potential and can ensure long term energy security of the country in a sustainable manner. It is thus being pursued along with other technologies.
The effort to reduce capital cost of nuclear power projects is ongoing. The efforts to optimize the cost include standardization of design, reducing gestation period and adopting appropriate business models to arrive at an optimal cost in case of projects to be set up with foreign cooperation.
Nuclear power is eco-friendly and does not emit greenhouse gases. The life cycle greenhouse gas emissions of nuclear power are comparable to those of renewable like wind power.
There are no difficulties in setting up new nuclear power plants. However, the pre-project activities like land acquisition at new sites, obtaining statutory environmental clearances, arriving at project proposals in respect of reactors to be set up with foreign cooperation etc. are long drawn and take time.
The pre-project activities are being expedited to enable early start of work on the projects.
This information was provided by the Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Development of North-Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, DrJitendra Singh in written reply to a question in LokSabha today.

BB/NK/JS

(Release ID :181351)
 
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India to Raise Indigenous Content in Upcoming Nuclear Power Projects

The Indian government has made it clear that it has no proposal under consideration to allow private sector firms to set up nuclear power reactors in the country, but that the share of indigenous content in the upcoming nuclear power reactors, including that of foreign contributed projects, will be raised.

New Delhi (Sputnik): The Narendra Modi-led government has announced that domestic private firms will be given a major share in all upcoming nuclear power plant projects in the country, thereby increasing the share of nationally made content in the nuclear reactors.

The government has already started outsourcing a major chunk of work to the private sector in two major projects — the pressurized heavy water reactor (PHWR) and light water reactor projects. In the PHWR project, the private sector has been tasked with providing plant components, equipment, services in areas including construction, fabrication, and erection of equipment, piping, electrical, instrumentation, and consultancy, auxiliary and logistical services.

"In respect of Light Water Reactors (LWR) (2000 MW) set up with foreign cooperation, the Indian private sector is involved in the supply of some of the equipment and in the execution of works contracts. The indigenous content in LWRs is planned to be increased progressively," Jitendra Singh, the junior minister in the department of atomic energy informed the Parliament on Wednesday.

India's two fully operational nuclear power plant units at the Kudankulum have 20% local content. The overall indigenization of the power plant is expected to cross 50% with the commissioning of the fifth and the sixth units. Currently, the third and fourth units are being constructed at a cost of approximately $6 billion, while the $7.5 billion have been sanctioned for the fifth and sixth units.

However, the government has made it clear that the private sector will not be allowed directly in the nuclear power generation business.

"There is no proposal under consideration at present, to permit private sector in the area of nuclear power generation," Minister Jitendra Singh added.

The clarification comes against the backdrop of arguments from various sectors that private enterprises should be allowed to participate in the business of nuclear power generation as the state-owned NPCIL lacks capital, which inhibits the growth potential the sector deserves.
 

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Indian Scientists Successfully Revive Asia’s Oldest Research Reactor Apsara

Indian nuclear scientists have upgraded Apsara, the country’s and Asia’s first research reactor. Originally, the reactor was supposed to be demolished after it completed 53 years of successful operation in 2009.

New Delhi (Sputnik) — India has put into operation an upgraded research reactor at the Trombay campus of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre that was originally planned to be dismantled. The newly upgraded research reactor is completely indigenous and it will increase indigenous production of radio-isotopes for medical application by about 50 percent, according to India's Department of Atomic Energy (DAE).

"The reactor, made indigenously, uses plate type dispersion fuel elements made of Low Enriched Uranium (LEU). By virtue of higher neutron flux, this reactor will increase indigenous production or radio-isotopes for medical application by about fifty percent and would also be extensively used for research in nuclear physics, material science and radiation shielding," said the DAE in a statement issued Tuesday.

Apsara was the first research reactor in Asia to become operational at the same campus of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in August 1956. After providing more than five decades of dedicated service to researchers, the reactor was shut down in 2009. In the original reactor, the maximum thermal neutron flux level was about 1 × 1013 n/cm2/s at designed power (1 MW) whereas in the upgraded version, flux is 6.1 × 1013 n/cm2/s of 2 MW power.


© PHOTO : BHABHA ATOMIC RESEARCH CENTER
Asia’s Oldest Research Reactor ‘Apsara’

"Nearly sixty-two years after Apsara came into existence, a swimming pool type research reactor 'Apsara-upgraded' of higher capacity was born at Trombay on 10th September. This development has re-emphasized the capability of Indian scientists and engineers to build, complex facilities for health care, science education and research," the DAE statement added.

The upgraded reactor will mainly be used to provide enhanced facilities for beam tube research, neutron activation analysis, neutron radiography, neutron detector development and testing, and shielding experiments.


PFBR progress - Nuclear Engineering International

INDICATIONS ARE THAT THE PROTOTYPE Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) will reach first criticality in late 2018. The PFBR in Kalpakkam, which begun construction in October 2004, has been on the verge of commissioning for some time, but the expected date of commissioning keeps being pushed back.

The delay, according to India’s Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), “is primarily owing to the augmentation of certain additional assessments and checks on the installed equipment prior to commencement of their commissioning, which have essentially emanated owing to both increased regulatory requirements and as a matter of abundant caution”. DAE’s ‘abundant caution’ stems not only from a tougher post-Fukushima regulatory environment, or the experience of sodium-cooled FBRs elsewhere, but also the fact that the PFBR is a lodestone for the second stage of India’s three-stage nuclear programme (TNSP) which envisages the creation of at least 300GWe generation capacity via FBRs.

It was back in 2004 that construction of the sodium-cooled pool-type 500MWe PFBR was begun, by Bhavini, a special purpose vehicle set up by DAE to realise the project and to act as a utility overseeing the construction and operation of future FBRs in India. Working alongside Bhavini, as the design, research & development (R&D) agency for the PFBR, has been the Indira Gandhi Centre For Atomic Research (IGCAR), Kalapakkam, also a part of DAE.

The PFBR development project has been a significant learning experience for both IGCAR and Bhavini given that a lot of equipment going into the reactor is ‘first of a kind’ (FOAK) and has been created from the ground-up in India via domestic production, and this has been a primary reason for the delays. After Fukushima, tougher standards from India’s Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), also required additional safety features, more conservative design parameters for external events and an emphasis on in-service inspection, which contributed to further delays.

For instance, the mechanical harfaced seal arrangement at the interface of the IHX outer shell and the inner vessel standpipe in the PFBR, rather than using traditional cobalt-based stellite alloy, is now made of a more wear-resistant nickel-based hard facing alloy (Colmonoy-5), because of the expected radiation dose rate to be experienced during the lifetime of the reactor. A computational-intelligence-based welding system for online monitoring and control during welding was also developed for obtaining zero-defect welded PFBR components, which is a key safety requirement.

As far as physical construction is concerned, the PFBR is complete, with various pre-commissioning tests underway. The boxing up and pre-heating of the main vessel, completion of the integrated leak rate test, deflection measurements of the reactor containment building, completion of fabrication of the pump intermediate heat exchanger (IHX) flask and demonstration of lifting the primary sodium pump were all completed by the end of last year.

So was the subsequent sodium filling and commissioning of both the secondary loops. But hydraulic problems in the secondary circuits led to flow oscillations, which made it impossible to operate the secondary sodium pumps at full speed. Even as this was being studied, Bhavini decided to progress testing of the fuel handling systems under ‘hot’ conditions along with the verification and validation of the software for the associated computer control systems. The sodium filling of the vessel and the primary loops were due to start after the completion of the fuel handling system trials, purification of the sodium to be loaded and the starting of the sodium pumps.

Sodium filling is also subject to the AERB granting appropriate clearances and approvals. After filling the main vessel and primary loops, isothermal tests will be carried out, after which the PFBR’s uranium-plutonim MOX fuel will be loaded into the core. According to Bhavini, fuel loading will take about two months, and attempts to reduce flow instability in the secondary loops will be made during this period.

A lot hinges on the successful commissioning of the PFBR for India, given that the reactor is an industrial scale demonstrator that is intended to validate its design concept and provide critical experience for operations and maintenance in a sodium environment with an operating temperature of 550°C. This experience will prove vital to the future expansion of Bhavini, which plans to construct two 600MWe FBRs of improved design on a site adjoining the present PFBR.

IGCAR and Bhavini are currently progressing detailed engineering studies for this new 600MWe ‘commercial’ FBR (CFBR) design. DAE believes that construction of these reactors could begin in early 2022/23, by which time it is hoped that enough feedback on full power operations from the PFBR can be incorporated into the design.

To prepare for the construction of the two commercial FBRs, a site assembly workshop and electrical substation are being built on-site. In addition to these two reactors, DAE also intends to develop four more FBRs at a different site and a ‘site-selection committee’ has been formed for this purpose.

The timelines for these plans will, of course, depend to a great degree on the actual commissioning and smooth full-power operations of the PFBR.

 

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India, Russia sign pact to implement new civil nuclear projects

India and Russia on Friday signed a document for cooperation to implement new nuclear power project (NPP). The document was signed following the discussions between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin during the 19th India-Russia Annual Bilateral Summit in New Delhi.

The document called an 'Action Plan for Prioritisation and Implementation of Cooperation Areas in the Nuclear Field', was signed by Director General of Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation Alexey Likhachev and Secretary of Department of Atomic Energy and Chairman of Atomic Energy Commission Kamlesh Vyas.

The two countries plan to implement the project of six nuclear power units of Russian design at a new site in India, as well as further cooperation in third countries in new promising areas of nuclear technology, apart from the construction of nuclear power plants. At present India and Russia are jointly involved in the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant project in Bangladesh. This is the first initiative by India and Russia in a third country. Since India is not a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group it cannot be directly involved in nuclear power reactors.

According to the document, Russia will offer the reference evolutionary VVER-1200 technical solutions of the generation "3+" for the new nuclear project and will increase the level of Indian industry's involvement and localisation. The pact is expected to be a big boost for Make in India as it will lead to manufacturing of nuclear fuel assemblies in India and majority of the equipments and material used for the NPPs will be made locally.

"We are satisfied with our strategic cooperation with India, where we implement the series construction of multiple units of Russian design on the Kudankulam site. We are counting on receiving a contract to implement a series construction of multiple units of our design at a new site in India in the same way. This will significantly increase the localisation of manufacturing the equipment for nuclear power plants in the framework of the policy 'Make in India', as well as optimise the timing and the cost of project implementation. In addition, India is a reliable partner, with whom we are already implementing projects in third countries, and we plan to enhance this cooperation," said Alexey Likhachev, DG Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation.

VVER-1200 is a flagship Russian nuclear reactor which has 20 per cent more power generating capacity than VVER-1000 that are used in India's Kudankulam units.
 
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China and India will lead the world's nuclear power growth, experts say
India and China are set to drive the world's nuclear power production growth as the two developing nations — among the top consumers of energy in the world — pursue their respective national nuclear energy programs.

According to the International Energy Agency, nuclear power production will grow by about 46 percent by 2040 — and more than 90 percent of the net increase will come from China and India.

Global nuclear electricity output grew 1 percent in 2017, as the world's nuclear fleet generated 2,503 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity, according to the World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2018.

Take China out of the picture, however, and the reality looks starkly different: Global nuclear power generation would have declined for a third consecutive year, the report showed.

Asia, for its part, saw 8 to 9 percent growth in nuclear capacity last year, Agneta Rising, the director general of the World Nuclear Association, told CNBC at the Singapore International Energy Week conference last week.

"(The) largest growth in nuclear energy is in the Asia region, especially in China and India," she said, adding that nuclear power is "absolutely compatible" and "necessary" for a low carbon future.
China dominates nuclear development

China added three new reactors to its fleet in 2017, bringing its total number of operating reactors to 41 — behind only the United States and France. The country reached its highest nuclear production that year, too: Its total output rose by a whopping 18 percent — or 35 TWh — the World Nuclear Industry Status Report showed.

China's expansion of nuclear production capabilities comes amid its push toward greater energy efficiency, a reduction of carbon intensity and a diversification away from fossil fuels, as outlined by the country's 13th Five Year Plan.

As part of that plan, Beijing is aiming to increase nuclear capacities to a total of 58 gigawatts (GW) by 2020. Its current nuclear capacity of 34.5 GW is, however, still dwarfed by renewable sources of energy such as wind and solar power — which are less costly, cleaner and safer to operate.
'Largest nuclear plant in the world'

With 22 nuclear reactors, India has the seventh-largest nuclear production fleet in the world, according to numbers from the International Atomic Energy Agency.

India's total net electrical capacity of 6,255 MW trails behind China's 42,800 MW. But as the rules for foreign firms operating nuclear facilities in India ease, the country's largely indigenous nuclear program is starting to open up. That could change the nuclear landscape in the South Asian country.

With a shortage of fossil fuels, India is pursuing nuclear investments as an alternative to add to the country's energy mix to power the country's development.

Rapid development of nuclear capabilities comes after years of exclusion from trade in nuclear materials and technology, which was a result of the country's non-signatory status to a 1970 treaty on nuclear non-proliferation. A civil liability law — which allows for unlimited legal recourse to nuclear operators up to 80 years following any nuclear accident — has further hampered international investment and cooperation.

It was only after a 2005 agreement between the U.S. and India on nuclear energy cooperation that the U.K., France and Canada took a similar approach. Bilateral cooperation in nuclear development was one of the highlights of a meeting between French President Emmanuel Macron and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in March.

French electricity company Electricite de France (EDF), one of the largest nuclear operators in the world, told CNBC last week that the company was in talks with the Indian government to build six European Pressurized Reactors in India. With a total capacity of 9.6 GW, the joint French-Indian Jaitapur project will be the "the largest nuclear plant in the world," said Marianne Laigneau, group senior executive vice president at EDF.

Globally, nuclear energy capacity looks set to increase as part of countries continue to ramp up efforts to decarbonize.

"We see a large growth in nuclear energy around the world. In 2018, 2019 we will have more reactors coming online than it has been in the last 30 years," said the World Nuclear Association's Rising.
China and India will lead the world's nuclear power growth, experts say
 

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India building three specialised labs to assess nuclear radiation damage
Scientists at INMAS are developing three new specialised laboratories which they say could boost India's nuclear preparedness and help save thousands of lives in case of an atomic war or a nuclear disaster.

Biodosimetry labs are specialised centres for assisting medical management of radiation exposure in case of a nuclear disaster.

Ideally, they should be connected with similar labs globally to help each other as a single country will not be able to tackle nuclear disaster alone, said Aseem Bhatnagar, Additional Director at the Institute of Nuclear Medicine & Allied Sciences (INMAS) here.

As part of the emergency preparedness for nuclear disasters, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have made it mandatory for every country to develop Biodosimetry laboratories, he said.

According to experts, Biodosimetry labs alone can assess the severity of the damage caused by radiation during nuclear disasters in any part of the world. This test is considered universally valid.

The mandatory test at the laboratory will ascertain the quantum of the exposure a person has suffered and also the possibility of their survival, they said.

"During radioactive accidents, thousands of patients may be rushed to hospitals. The blood of such patients will have damaged components in proportion to the radiation received that this test assess," A K Singh, Director General of Life Sciences at the DRDO, told PTI.

"Biodosimetry labs employ a test called Dicentric Chromosomal test. Laborious work is needed for three to four days and only then one can report on the severity of the damage," he added.
'India building three specialised labs to assess nuclear radiation damage'
 

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India Creates World Record in Non-Stop Nuclear Power Production

The earlier record of continuous operation by a nuclear power plant was maintained by Unit 2 of the Heysham Nuclear Power Station, United Kingdom, which operated non-stop for 940 days.

India's Kaiga Atomic Power Station has set a new world record as one of its units completed uninterrupted operation for more than 941 days on Monday morning. This is a record for all kinds of nuclear power-generating units in the world, including advanced gas-based reactors.

"At 0920 hours (Indian Standard Time) on December 10, 2018, Unit-1 of KGS (Kaiga Generating Station) achieved a world record feat in the continuous operation of nuclear power reactors by clocking 941 days of non-stop run establishing India as the front-runner in continuous operation among all types of nuclear power reactors. In the course of the record-breaking run, Unit-1 of KGS plant operated with a capacity factor of 99.4%," the Department of Atomic Energy (DEA) announced issuing a statement.

KGS located in the sylvan surroundings of the Western Ghats at Kaiga in Uttara Kannada district of the southern state of Karnataka is a cluster of four indigenously developed Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors of 220 MW each. The first and second reactors started commercial operation in the year 2000, and the third and fourth reactors in the years 2007 and 2011.

"The achievement reflects the strength of indigenous capability to design, construct and operate nuclear powers plants and indicates the ability to master high-end technology," the DEA added.

Currently, India has 22 nuclear power reactors with an installed capacity of 6780 megawatts while 21 other reactors are under the different stage of construction, which includes four units at Kudankulam with Russian collaboration and one fast breeder reactor augmenting the total installed capacity to 22480 MW by 2031-32.
 
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Golden_Rule

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a lot of equipment going into the reactor is ‘first of a kind’ (FOAK) and has been created from the ground-up in India via domestic production, and this has been a primary reason for the delays

FOAK - has been a primary reason for the delays
 

RISING SUN

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India Creates World Record in Non-Stop Nuclear Power Production

The earlier record of continuous operation by a nuclear power plant was maintained by Unit 2 of the Heysham Nuclear Power Station, United Kingdom, which operated non-stop for 940 days.

India's Kaiga Atomic Power Station has set a new world record as one of its units completed uninterrupted operation for more than 941 days on Monday morning. This is a record for all kinds of nuclear power-generating units in the world, including advanced gas-based reactors.

"At 0920 hours (Indian Standard Time) on December 10, 2018, Unit-1 of KGS (Kaiga Generating Station) achieved a world record feat in the continuous operation of nuclear power reactors by clocking 941 days of non-stop run establishing India as the front-runner in continuous operation among all types of nuclear power reactors. In the course of the record-breaking run, Unit-1 of KGS plant operated with a capacity factor of 99.4%," the Department of Atomic Energy (DEA) announced issuing a statement.

KGS located in the sylvan surroundings of the Western Ghats at Kaiga in Uttara Kannada district of the southern state of Karnataka is a cluster of four indigenously developed Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors of 220 MW each. The first and second reactors started commercial operation in the year 2000, and the third and fourth reactors in the years 2007 and 2011.

"The achievement reflects the strength of indigenous capability to design, construct and operate nuclear powers plants and indicates the ability to master high-end technology," the DEA added.

Currently, India has 22 nuclear power reactors with an installed capacity of 6780 megawatts while 21 other reactors are under the different stage of construction, which includes four units at Kudankulam with Russian collaboration and one fast breeder reactor augmenting the total installed capacity to 22480 MW by 2031-32.

962-day continuous operation, Kaiga sets world record
The first unit of Kaiga Generating Station (KGS) has completed 962 days of continuous operation till 31 December 2018, registered a world record among the nuclear power stations of the world.


The unit with a capacity of 220 MW had surpassed the earlier world record of 940 days continuous operation held by Heysham-2 Unit-8 of the United Kingdom on 10 December 2018.


Now, the unit has completed 962 days of continuous operation till 31 December 2018, registering higher than highest continuous operation record world over.

During its continuous run of 962 days, the unit generated about 5 billion Units of electricity at a Plant Load Factor of about 99.3%.

The unit was shut down at 2300 hrs on Monday to take up inspections and maintenance activities, officials of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd.

It will be restarted after carrying out various maintenance activities, inspections and regulatory clearances. Kaiga in Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka comprises four indigenously developed Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors of 220 MW (KGS 1 to 4 – 4X220 MW), fuelled by domestic fuel. KGS-2,3& 4 are presently operating, with KGS-2 now operating continuously for 661 days.

Indian nuclear power reactors have achieved continuous operation of over 365 days 28 times till date. Three reactors – KGS-1 (962 days), RAPS-3 (777 days) and RAPS-5 (765 days) – have operated continuously for more than two years.

The record unbroken run of 962 days further demonstrates the pre-eminence of NPCIL in the design, construction and operation of PHWRs with unprecedented levels of efficiency and safety.
962-day continuous operation, Kaiga sets world record
 
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Gautam

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Thank you for helping me find this thread Mods. Much appreciated.:)

Fuel for India’s nuclear ambitions
7 April 2017
1553775385542.png




Saurav Jha gives an update on India’s plans to use its abundant thorium resources for nuclear power production.

Endowed with modest uranium reserves alongside relatively abundant thorium bearing monazite deposits, India has long pursued the ambition of setting up large scale nuclear generation capacity utilising a Th-232/U-233 cycle. The means to this end has been the three-stage nuclear programme (TNSP), which looks to sequentially build-up a sizeable fissile inventory that can support a sustainable fleet of thorium breeders. However, owing in part to its nuclear isolation during the period 1974-2008, India’s pursuit of a thorium-based programme has only yielded credible semi- industrial capability across a closed Th- 232/U-233 fuel cycle and India’s Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) currently projects large scale thorium use as being some decades away.

Nevertheless, an industrial scale demonstrator called the Advanced Heavy Water Reactor (AHWR) is projected to
be built soon and an Indian molten salt breeder reactor (IMSBR) programme has been launched to provide the mainstay
for a future thorium-based fleet. It seems climate change considerations and water desalination needs, could drive a push for earlier deployment, though this could be contingent on India’s ability to obtain fissile material internationally. DAE’s accelerator driven sub-critical system (ADSS) research and development (R&D) programme, if successful, could also provide a pathway for faster thorium-based capacity deployment.

Three stage programme
1553775500510.png

DAE’s Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration & Research (AMD) has to date established that India has some 12 million tonnes of monazite which contains about 1.07 million tonnes of thorium, likely the world’s greatest repository of Th-232. In contrast India has only 0.25 million tonnes of Triuranium Octoxide (U3O8) deposits. Regardless, like all others, India too had to start its nuclear programme using uranium based reactors, due to the absence of a preexisting fissile inventory. But it never gave up its strategic objective of ultimately setting up large scale thorium-based generation capacity and that is how TNSP was born.

The TNSP envisages the use of all three major fissile isotopes U-235, plutonium-239 and U-233, with only the first occurring in nature, and the other two being ‘bred’ from the fertile isotopes U-238 and Th-232, respectively. TNSP involves the setting up of both natural uranium and enriched uranium using thermal reactors in the first-stage, plutonium driven fast breeder reactors in the second stage and Th-232/U-233 cycle based ‘thermal breeders’ in the third stage. The FBRs of the second stage will be loaded with plutonium and depleted uranium from the first stage as fuel. After sufficient FBR capacity has been built up via a closed U-238/ Pu-239 cycle, Th-232 will be introduced in the blanket regions of FBRs to breed U-233. The U-233 thus bred will serve as fuel for third- stage thorium breeders.

As can be imagined, this elaborate scheme requires significant enrichment and reprocessing capability to enable a fissile build-up. Unfortunately, owing to India’s nuclear isolation post its first weapons test in 1974, the country was not able to source either equipment or fissile material that could have allowed it to meet any realistic timeline for TNSP goals. Nonetheless, India carried on thorium related research and with the end of its nuclear isolation is now looking for ways to hasten the process.

Current status
1553775449491.png

India’s thorium cycle activities though creditable, are still at a semi-industrial level. DAE has mined thousands of tonnes of monazite and extracted thorium oxide (ThO2) out of it to produce nuclear grade ThO2 powder, which in turn has been
used to fabricate fuel pins for irradiation in both power generation as well as research reactors.

Since the late 1980s, six Indian Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (IPHWRs) have each been loaded with thirty-five 19-element ThO2 pellet bundles at different points in time.

The ThO2 bundles were irradiated up to 600 FPDs, while achieving a maximum burnup of over 13,000 Megawatt-days per ton (MWd/t). Notably, DAE says that there were no fuel failures in these experiments. The design of these ThO2 bundles was similar to the standard natural uranium (NU) bundles used in IPHWRs. These irradiation experiments were conducted not only to gain insights into reactor physics and fuel design but also for the purposes of flux flattening in the initial cores of the selected IPHWRs.

Further studies have also been conducted with fuel bundles made of both ThO2 and slightly enriched uranium (SEU) elements. DAE is currently mulling over a move to use ThO2 on a regular basis in future IPHWRs in order to build a U-233 inventory. In any case, these studies have given DAE the confidence to develop heavy-water-reactor designs that utilise large thorium loads with enriched uranium as a driver. Experiments related to Th-Pu mixed oxide (MOX) fuel for boiling water reactors have also been undertaken. Overall, DAE’s examinations seem to suggest that ThO2 based fuels exhibit better thermo- mechanical properties and slower fuel deterioration than UO2 based fuels.

Aluminium clad ‘J’ rods containing ThO2 pellets have also been irradiated in the CIRUS research reactor at the
Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Trombay. In addition to this, Zircaloy clad test–pin assemblies made of Th-Pu MOX pellets containing 4–7% PuO2 have also been successfully irradiated in dedicated engineering loops in CIRUS to a burn-up of 18,000MWd/t without any failure. These irradiated rods have been subsequently reprocessed in DAE’s Uranium Thorium Separation Facility using the THOREX process for obtaining U-233. The U-233 obtained has been used to fabricate U-Al alloy plate fuel to drive the 30kWt KAMINI research reactor in operation at the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR), Kalpakkam since 1996. Incidentally, KAMINI is the only operating reactor in the world which uses U-233 as its primary fuel. Of late, irradiated ThO2 bundles from IPHWRs have also been reprocessed in the Power Reactor Thorium Reprocessing Facility commissioned in 2015 to obtain U-233.

In the past, ThO2 bundles have been irradiated in the blanket region of the Fast Breeder Test Reactor (FBTR) located in Kalpakkam. Moreover, design pins containing (U-233, DU, Pu) MOX meant to be used in India’s Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) scheduled to achieve criticality by late 2017 have also been irradiated in FBTR. Essentially, most facets of a ‘closed’ thorium based fuel cycle have been demonstrated, albeit at a semi-industrial scale.

An Industrial Scale Demonstrator
To take things to an industrial level, DAE is in the final stages of validating the design of a 300MWe (920MWt) Advanced Heavy Water Reactor (AHWR) through large scale engineering experiments in test facilities set up specifically for AHWR. Various activities related to obtaining the necessary site selection approvals and associated regulatory clearances for AHWR construction are also underway. Actual construction work on AHWR is expected to begin sometime in 2018, probably at an existing plant site such as Tarapur in India’s Maharashtra State.

In terms of design features, AHWR is a vertical pressure tube type reactor that uses boiling light water as coolant and heavy water as moderator. Its 452 coolant channels can receive both U-Th MOX and Pu-Th MOX bundles. Capable of on-power refuelling, AHWR has a design life of 100 years and uses natural circulation for core cooling and has a negative void coefficient of reactivity. AHWR’s equilibrium core will utilise Th-U-233-Pu MOX fuel in closed cycle mode. In equilibrium about 60% of the power generated by AHWR will come from U-233 bred from Th-232.

AHWR is also meant to demonstrate Indian capability in state of the art nuclear safety features, since the plan is to build thorium based reactors on the site of old semi-urban coal power plants, to eschew land and water sourcing issues. As such, the AHWR design incorporates several passive safety systems which include core cooling by natural circulation under normal operation, transients and accident scenarios. Additionally, AHWR uses passive systems for containment cooling following a loss of coolant accident. Passive safety systems have been adopted even for non-cooling applications such as a reactor trip in case of wired shut-down system failure, containment isolation and automatic depressurisation following an accident.

Interestingly, an AHWR-low enriched uranium (AHWR-LEU) variant is also being developed with a view to offering this design for export. The AHWR-LEU core will be made of Th-LEU MOX bundles and is designed to operate in once through mode. Average discharge burn-up for the AHWR-LEU is 60MWd/t as compared to 40MWd/t for the baseline AHWR. The discharged fuel from AHWR-LEU will also have much less fissile content than what is discharged by AHWR. Under 40% of the power generated by AHWR- LEU will come from U-233 bred in situ. India is offering this design as a proliferation- resistant option for countries looking to build nuclear generation capacity for the first time on their soil.

The Indian Molten Salt Breeder Reactor
Nevertheless, the staple of the third-stage of India’s TNSP is likely to be whatever is the outcome of the IMSBR programme. DAE has validated the simulation methodology it is using for various IMBSR designs by analysing and producing some of the key results of a French molten salt fast reactor concept. Early IMBSR designs rated at 850MWe of both ‘loop’ and ‘pool’ type using varied lithium- fluoride, thorium-fluoride, uranium-fluoride combinations as fuel salt and lithium-fluoride thorium-fluoride combinations as blanket salt are being explored.

DAE’s design goals will include online refuelling and reprocessing, continuous removal of gaseous fission products, high breeding ratios, low level of long-lived actinide waste generation, and large negative feedback and void coefficient of reactivity – basically the entire roster of features that are supposed to recommend MSR designs.

Incidentally, thermal neutron IMSBR designs are also being considered in addition to fast neutron designs. The IMSBR programme is expected to yield a ‘mainstay’ design for the future. The thermal breeders will have lower fissile requirements but their breeding ratios will lead to basic self- sustainment and not allow for the growth of the fleet. The fast IMSBRs on the other hand have much higher fissile requirements but could exhibit breeding ratios that may lead to a growing fleet of the type over an extended period. Obviously, for a given fissile inventory, a bigger fleet of thermal IMSBRs can be set up initially.

The critical pathway
Either way, a large U-233 inventory will have to be created, whatever the preferred IMSBR type. TSNP envisions the use of Pu-239 fuelled FBRs for this purpose wherein Th-232 will be introduced in the blanket region of FBRs to breed U-233 using neutrons released by the fast fission of Pu-239.

However, DAE intends to do this only after a large fleet of FBRs with short ‘doubling’ time has been built up. Here ‘doubling’ time refers to the time taken by a breeder reactor to generate enough fissile material that can be used to drive another such reactor. FBRs that are fuelled by plutonium and uranium in pure metallic form rather than oxide form have shorter doubling times. But metallic FBRs (MFBRs) of 1000MWe capacity are likely to be introduced only in the mid-2020s, with Th-232 blankets being put into them only in the third decade after the launch of the first such MFBR. This is why DAE does not envision significant thorium deployment before 2050.

The delayed introduction of Th-232 indicates that DAE intends to build up a large Pu-239 inventory first, as it might, since FBRs on their own are intended to give India some 200GWe of installed capacity and will be the mainstay of India’s overall reactor fleet by the mid-2030s. Nevertheless, given that India is gradually committing itself to emission targets and its peninsula requires potable water, earlier deployment of thorium is also under consideration. DAE also has thorium-based high temperature reactor (THR) designs that are suitable for water desalination purposes.

Alternatives?
TNSP’s timescales are essentially based on the use of only domestic fissile resources to build an inventory of Pu-239 and U-233 to attain a large thorium based fleet. But, if Pu- 239 were to become available from overseas, either from decommissioned weapons or by being allowed to reprocess the large stocks of accumulated spent fuel, thorium deployment could happen sooner. With India’s re-entry into global nuclear trade, there is a move underway to explore the possibility of sourcing fissile material from partner countries abroad to utilise in designs that burn plutonium while breeding U-233. Essentially India is positing thorium as a better candidate for disposing strategic fissile material compared to inert matrix carriers.

‘Imported’ Pu-239 could be ‘burned’ in emerging new designs, which though not really breeders have high ‘conversion’ ratios and will generate a lot of U-233 in lieu of the Pu-239 which is consumed. This would suit those countries that are looking to dispose of their large Pu-239 stocks due to proliferation concerns such as Japan. Of course, imported Pu-239 could also be used to set up more FBRs under ‘safeguards’, though it remains to be seen if other countries would agree to such an arrangement.

A sub (critical) route?
Simultaneously, India is also pursuing accelerator-drive system technology as an alternate pathway for thorium utilisation
as well for the transmutation of nuclear waste in a dedicated minor actinides burner reactor with ‘inherent safety against power excursions’. According to DAE, ADSS could allow faster breeding of U-233 via spallation and achieve thorium utilisation via a once through cycle.

DAE’s ADSS R&D activities are currently focused in two key areas. The first is the development of technologies that go into superconducting radio frequency (SCRF) cavity based linear accelerators (LINACs). The key technologies here include cryostats, niobium resonators, RF electronics, among others. The other area where DAE is focusing efforts is the indigenisation of previously imported equipment common to both normal and superconducting type LINACs, such as klystrons etc.

At the moment a 20MeV 30mA proton LINAC is being set up in project mode at BARC, Trombay and a high energy SCRF cavity based accelerator is set to come up in a new BARC campus in Vishakapatnam on India’s East Coast. It is difficult to project any timelines for India successfully mastering ADSS technology. However, if that were to indeed happen, India would have found for itself a potential pathway for accelerating its cherished goal of large scale thorium utilisation.
 
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