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Home arrow News arrow Power and Energy arrow Power Reactor Fuel Processing Plant at BARC, Tarapur Commissioned
Power Reactor Fuel Processing Plant at BARC, Tarapur Commissioned Print E-mail
Written by Vijay   
Wednesday, 12 January 2011
Mumbai: India's third power reactor spent fuel reprocessing plant was commissioned at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Tarapur. The plant, which has a capacity of 100-tonnes oer annum, will reprocess spent fuel from indigenous nuclear power plants to be used for fast breeder reactors.

Spent fuel from the reactors in Kalpakkam, Rajasthan and Narora, apart from the two units at Tarapur, will be processed here. The entire process is automated.

"We have come a long way since the first reprocessing of spent fuel in India in the year 1964 at Trombay. The recycling and optimal utilization of Uranium is essential to meet our current and future energy security needs. The vision of the founding fathers of our nuclear programme, Jawaharlal Nehru and Homi Bhabha, was to achieve the mastery of the complete fuel cycle, thus enabling India to use our vast and abundant thorium resources in advanced nuclear power reactors. The reprocessing of spent fuel is therefore the key to our three stage indigenous nuclear power programme. Reprocessing is essential in the transition to the second stage of fast breeder reactors which we have begun, and in the subsequent third stage using thorium in advanced reactors," said Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh.

To facilitate rapid growth in reprocessing activities, the Nuclear Recycle Board (NRB) was recently constituted in the Department of Atomic Energy.

Another reprocessing plant is expected to be commissioned in 2013 at Kalpakkam. It is currently under construction. In addition to this there is also a programme of making large-sized reprocessing plants.

The first of the large-sized reprocessing plants would be located at Tarapur itself. The proposed plant would integrate all processes on a single campus.

"Tarapur, itself is an outstanding example of nuclear energy’s capacity to provide the clean, safe and economical energy that our nation requires for its development and growth. This site is home to the oldest boiling water reactors in the world. Here we have built our own reactors as well. And we have subsequently added the entire range of facilities covering the entire fuel cycle from fuel fabrication to reprocessing and waste immobilization," the Prime Minister said.

"Taken together, the atomic energy programme of India represents a very important and significant step towards technological and energy self-reliance and security. That we have done so by the efforts of our own scientists and engineers is tribute to the vision of the founders of our atomic energy programme. Given the advanced status of our indigenous programme and the capabilities of our scientists and engineers we can now confidently utilize the new opportunities that have been created with the opening up of international cooperation in the field of nuclear energy," he added.

Construction on the new plant began five years ago and consists of four cells of special grade stainless steel. The cells are heavily encased and has a complex system of piping and chambers. The vitrified blocks are kept in a separate facility. Currently waste is stored in a large vault, one-fourth the size of a football field at Tarapur which has enough capacity to store the lifetime waste of two 540-MW reactors.

Spent fuel is encased in a zirconolite alloy. This is chopped and dissolved in nitric acid to remove the cladding. The unused fuel (spent uranium and newly formed plutonium) is extracted from it in nitrate form. The reprocessed fuel is sent in oxide form to be reused in fast breeder power reactors.

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