The country’s first indigenously developed 500-megawatt (MW) prototype fast breeder reactor at Kalpakkam in Tamil Nadu is expected to achieve criticality next year, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) secretary Sekhar Basu said at the 62nd General Conference of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna.
The project, which was earlier expected to be commissioned in 2012, has missed several deadlines.
The indigenously developed Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) is now undergoing sodium commissioning.
The reactor was designed by the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR). Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam (Bhavini), a public sector company under DAE, has been given the responsibility to build the fast breeder reactors in the country.
The Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) is currently under development in Kalpakkam. It is considered as a follow-up to the Fast Breeder Test Reactor (FBTR) that is also run by the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR). The PBFR will be a sodium-cooled, pool-type reactor with a 500MWe capacity and a lifespan of 40 years. Unlike the FBTR that uses mixed carbide fuel, PFBR will utilize a 30 percent plutonium oxide and 70 percent uranium oxide mixed fuel. This decision was reportedly due to inherent problems with mixed carbide fuels.
According to the Department of Atomic Energy’s (Government of India) 2001-2002 Annual Report, all conceptual designs for PFBR have been completed. Significant progress was also supposedly made in the reactor’s nuclear steam supply system (NSSS) and balance of plant (BOP) components. As of 3 October 2002, costs for PFBR program were estimated at 28 billion rupees ($575.96 million).