By Dr. Srikumar Banerjee : The Department of Atomic Energy is an integrated group of multi-disciplinary organisations comprising of 5 research centres, 3 industrial organisations, 5 public sector undertaking and 3 service organisations. It has two boards for funding extra–mural research in nuclear and allied fields and mathematics. It also supports 9 autonomous institutes. The main drivers of its activities have been relevance to meet the national needs and priorities and excellence by global standards. Last year witnessed landmark achievements, impressive growth in programmes, and major initiatives covering a wide spectrum.
Nuclear Power Programme
Construction of two new nuclear power reactors viz. Rajasthan Atomic Power Project – Unit 5&6 (220 MWe each) was completed and they commenced commercial operation. With this the total number of nuclear power reactors in operation in the country has become 19 with total installed capacity of 4560 MWe. In all, 18, 800 million units of electricity was generated through these reactors during the year 2009-10.
Construction work for Kaiga Unit 4 (220 MWe) is complete and it is expected to be commissioned soon. Two light water reactors (1000 MWe each) being built in collaboration with the Russian Federation at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu are in advanced stage of completion and are also expected to be commissioned within this year. The 500 MWe Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) the world’s second largest fast breeder reactor being constructed at Kalpakkam in Tamil Nadu has achieved more than 55 % physical progress.
Consequent on the accord of administrative and financial sanction by the Government, the project works on Kakarapar Atomic Power Project-3&4 (KAPP-3&4, 2×700 MWe PHWRs) and Rajasthan Atomic Power Project-7&8 (RAPP-7&8, 2×700 MWe PHWRs) were started. The first pour of concrete for these four reactors is planned within this year.
Pre-project activities such as statutory clearances, land acquisition related activities, etc. on Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP-3&4, 2×1000 MWe LWRs) were initiated. In respect of Jaitapur Nuclear Power Projects (JNPP-1&2, 2×1650 MWe LWRs) the land acquisition is in advanced stage.
The Government accorded “In principle” approval for five Green Field Sites that include two inland sites (Kumharia, Haryana and Bargi, Madhya Pradesh) for setting up six 700 MW indigenous PHWRs, and three coastal sites (Haripur, West Bengal, Mithi Virdi, Gujarat and Kovvada, Andhra Pradesh) for setting up eighteen 1000 MWe or larger size LWRs based on international cooperation. Sanction for capacity expansion at Kudankulam (to a Capacity of : 6×1000, LWRs) and Jaitapur (Capacity : 6×1650 MWe LWRs) sites was also accorded by the Government.
Fuel Cycle Activities
Uranium Exploration – Over 14,875 tonnes (U3O8) of additional uranium resources were established in Andhra Pradesh at Tummalapalle and adjoining blocks, Kadapa district, Peddagattu and Chitrial, Nalgonda district, Koppunuru, Guntur district, at Rohil, Sikar district, Rajasthan and Lostoin, West Khasi Hills district, Meghalaya. The country’s uranium resources have been updated to 1,40,296 tonnes of U3O8.
Uranium Mining & Processing – With the increased demand of uranium for the country’s nuclear power programme, UCIL took up Mohuldih Uranium Mining Project in the Saraikela-Kharsawan district of Jharkhand, Tummalapalle Uranium Mining & Milling Project in Andhra Pradesh and Exploratory Mining at Gogi in Karnataka.
Fuel Fabrication – Highest ever production of PHWR fuel bundles, Zirconium sponge, PHWR fuel tubes, rod material & Niobium metal was achieved at the Nuclear Fuel Complex, Hyderabad. The Zirconium Complex at Pazhayakayal, Tamil Nadu was inaugurated following the successful trial production of Zirconium Oxide. NFC successfully executed an order received from IAEA against global competition for manufacture, supply, erection and commissioning of fuel element end-cap welding unit to Turkish Atomic Energy Authority.
Country’s first two industrial scale production facilities for enriched boron, required for the fast breeder reactors, were commissioned at Talcher and Manuguru. These are based on exchange distillation and ion exchange chromatography respectively. A plant for converting the enriched KBF4 into elemental Boron based on the process of electrolysis was also set up at HWP, Manuguru.
Heavy Water – The capacity utilization of heavy water plants, during the year 2009-10, exceeded 100%. During the year, Heavy Water Board bagged the sixteenth export order for supply of 11 MT heavy water to M/s KHNP, South Korea.
Fuel Reprocessing & Waste Management – At the Compact Reprocessing facility for Advanced Fuels in Lead cells (CORAL), Kalpakkam, the spent fuel subassembly from FBTR with a burnup of 155 GWd/t was reprocessed and the fissile material was re-fabricated as fuel and loaded back into the reactor. This marked the successful closing of the fast reactor fuel cycle.
Selective extraction of cesium and strontium from waste radioactive solutions, was successfully carried out at Kalpakkam. These fission products have wide ranging applications as radiation sources.
Radiation Technologies and Their Applications
Nuclear Agriculture – Under the Nuclear Agriculture programme, four new mutant varieties were notified for commercial cultivation, taking the total number of mutant varieties developed by BARC using radiation techniques to 39. The new varieties include two of ground nut (TG 39 & TG 51) and one each of pigeon-pea (TJT 501) and pairymung (TM 2000-2).
Radiation Processing of Food – The interest of entrepreneurs in using radiation technology for hygienising and preserving food and allied products is increasing. The eighth radiation processing plant in private sector in the country at Bhiwadi in Rajasthan, was completed and trial run was started. For this, the 100 kCi sealed radiation source was supplied by Board of Radiation and Isotope Technology (BRIT).
Radiation technology has also helped India in increasing its exports of food items to many countries including the most developed ones. More than 2400 MT of spices and other products were processed at the Radiation Processing Plant, Vashi during the last financial year. BRIT signed a tripartite agreement with the Maharashtra State Agricultural Marketing Board (MSAMB) and BARC for service operation of KRUSHAK Irradiation Facility at Lasalgaon, Nashik by MSAMB, for 3 years. The facility was upgraded for multi-tasking covering wide range of food products requiring low dose to medium dose exposure.
Nuclear Medicine & Healthcare – Two radiopharmaceutical agents viz.177Lu-EDTMP, as a bone pain palliative and 177Lu-DOTA-TATE as a radiotherapeutic agent for neuroendocrine tumours, have been developed recently at BARC.
The contract for monoclonal antibody (ch TNT 1/B) labeling wing with Iodine-131 by BRIT for M/s. Peregrine Pharmaceuticals Inc., USA was further extended for 2010. At BRIT, a user-friendly IRMA kit for Luteinizing hormone (LH) based on in-house produced magnetizable cellulose particles was developed.
Bhabhatron teletherapy machine for cancer therapy developed by Bhabha Atomic Research Centre was donated to Vietnam as per an agreement between International Atomic Energy Agency, and Socialist Republic of Vietnam. The machine was inaugurated at Can Tho Oncology Hospital in Vietnam on April 28, 2010. It would serve a large number of cancer patients in Mekong Delta and other southern regions of Vietnam.
Desalination & Water Treatment Technologies – The barge mounted Mobile Seawater Reverse Osmosis Desalination Plant of 50 kilo-litres capacity, developed by BARC, was registered under the name ‘SUJAL’. The next generation Ultra Filtration based iron removal unit, developed by BARC, was deployed at the Central Glass & Ceramic Research Institute, Kolkata for field testing. It produced safe drinking water (with less than 0.3 ppm iron content as per WHO) from contaminated water having iron level upto 6 ppm.
Computing Technology – At BARC, two Computing Clusters with performance ratings of 700 GFLOPS (giga floating points operations per second) and 1.4 TFLOPs (tera floating points operations per second) were built for supercomputing technology evaluation. Also, a 1 TFLOP computing cluster was commissioned for specific high pressure physics applications. IIT-Kanpur and BARC jointly developed a solver software “AnuPravaha” for computational fluid dynamics to create a finite volume based solver to solve Navier- Stokes and associated scalar equations to be used for engineering applications.
A parallel high-performance supercomputing cluster has been commissioned by IGCAR to cater to the large-scale numerical computational requirements of users in the areas of computational molecular dynamics, material modelling, reactor core calculations & safety analysis, weather modelling and computer aided engineering applications. An advanced visualization centre, a world-class fully immersive system has also been commissioned at IGCAR to visualize the models of fast breeder reactors and associated fuel cycle facilities.
Nuclear Submarine -An important milestone was crossed when the indigenous nuclear submarine INS Arihant was launched in 2009. This demonstrated indigenous capability in building compact nuclear power plant meeting exacting and difficult to realise specifications. Its land based version at Kalpakkam that was operational earlier, continued to perform well.
Technology Transfer -The spin-off technologies developed and demonstrated at BARC and transferred to the public domain for further commercial proliferation, include back washable Spiral Ultrafiltration Technology for domestic and industrial water purification, Multichannel Accoustic Emission Analyser Technology, UF Membrane assisted process technology for arsenic removal from ground/surface water, Hand held Tele-ECG instrument, Image Analysis System etc. Twelve new MoU’s were executed between BARC and other agencies for the development of technologies of mutual interest.
Intellectual Property Rights – During the year 2009, DAE filed 18 patent applications including 4 in India, 5 under Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), 3 in USA, 2 in Canada, and 1 each in South Africa, Japan, Australia and France. During this period, 9 of the previously filed patents were granted to the Department. So far, DAE has filed 219 applications including PCT and national phase applications. Of these, 121 patents have been granted. 64 patents are in force at present.
The Fight Against Cancer – For creating a better network between the Tata Memorial Hospital and the cancer institutions all over the country, an Apex Committee was formed under the chairmanship of Director, TMC. The Apex Committee deliberated on indigenous development and manufacturing of the equipment related to radiation oncology such as Cobalt-60 Teletherapy Machine, Low Energy Linear Accelerator, High Energy Linear Accelerator, Brachytherapy, etc. The initiatives taken will lead to further gains in the DAE’s outreach in the cancer care programme.
DAE has signed the Third Tripartite Agreement with the North-Eastern Council and the Government of Assam, for the revitalization of the Dr. B. Barooah Cancer Institute (BBCI), Guwahati. This hospital is a Regional Cancer Centre (RCC) for cancer treatment and control in the North-Eastern Region. The Department’s total share as per the Tripartite agreement is approximately Rs.10.45 crore, for revitalization of the BBCI.
Advanced Knowledge and Rural Technology Implementation (AKRUTI)- Under this BARC initiative, five new AKRUTI nodes were set up at different states in the country, taking the total AKRUTI nodes to 15. A miniature commercial tissue culture laboratory for AKRUTI-CARD at Anjangaon-Surji, Amravati was completed for initiating tissue culture production of banana plants. Isotope hydrological investigations on a few water resources development and management related issues such as recharging of springs, groundwater augmentation by artificial recharge, groundwater salinity and pollution etc. were initiated at six sites in Maharashtra.
BARC-Centre for Incubation of Technology (BARCIT) – This centre started functioning with the setting up of four Incubation Cells that include Electron Beam Welding Technology, Water technology, Food technology and Medical and Laboratory equipment development technology.
International Research Collaborations
An all solid state bouncer compensated modulator developed at RRCAT for a CERN experiment achieved rated specifications and was accepted by the CERN team. To qualify the development of subsystems, electronics and components for pulsed H-accelerators programme, a pulsed 1.3 MW 352.2 MHz test stand was built around a klystron obtained from CERN.
RRCAT fabricated two prototype 1.3 GHz single cell superconducting cavities in collaboration with the Inter University Accelerator Centre (IUAC), New Delhi and shipped to Fermi Lab, USA.
Under the INPRO programme, an international benchmark exercise was undertaken to evaluate the reliability of Passive Decay Heat Removal system (PDHR) of 2400 MW(thermal) French Gas cooled Fast Reactor. BARC is using its Assessment of Passive System Reliability (APSRA) methodology for evaluating the reliability of the PDHR.
Several physics and engineering experiments were carried out with international collaboration in the French PHENIX fast reactor before its permanent shut down, mainly for validating the data and computer codes used for reactor design and operation.
Some notable bilateral agreements during the year 2009-10 took place:
· Agreement between the India and the Government of Republic of Namibia on cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy.
· Memorandum of Understanding between India and the Nuclear Energy Agency, Regulatory Agency of the Government of Mongolia, on cooperation, in the field of Peaceful Use of Radioactive Minerals and Nuclear Energy.
· Agreement for cooperation between India and the European Atomic Energy Community in the field of Fusion Energy Research.
· A joint declaration by India and the United Kingdom on Civil Nuclear Cooperation.
· Agreement between the Government and the Government of the Russian Federation on Cooperation in the Use of Atomic Energy for Peaceful Purposes
· Road Map for the Serial Construction of the Russian design Nuclear Power Plants in India.
· Agreement between the Government and the Government of Canada for Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy
The Department of Atomic Energy, through its untiring efforts during last more than five decades, has earned India the status of an advanced country in the field of nuclear science and technology. DAE, in the times to come has to march ahead with even more vigour to overcome the challenges of providing enough electricity, food and water and also better health care and environment to the Indian people. With its large pool of dedicated scientists and engineers and supporting personnel, there is no doubt that the Department will be successfully able to meet all challenges and stride much greater heights while meeting its commitments to the country.