Saturday, June 28, 2014

Think fast - reactors set to enter service in Russia and India

Russia celebrated two stand-out achievements for the world's nuclear industry today - the launch of the most powerful fast reactor and the 60th anniversary of the first civilian nuclear power plant.

Rosenergoatom engineers brought to criticality Beloyarsk 4 - a 789 MWe fast-neutron reactor of the BN-800 design...
Beloyarsk 4 is fuelled by a mix of uranium and plutonium oxides arranged to produce new fuel material as it burns. Its capacity exceeds that of the world's second most powerful fast reactor - 560 Mwe Beloyarsk 3. Russia plans to build a BN-1200 fast reactor power unit at Beloyarsk to start up by 2020.
Rosenergoatom said on 23 June that it was preparing for first criticality of its BN-800 and Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported that controlled nuclear fission had been started on 27 June.

Russia's BN-800 looks as if it will just beat India's Prototype Fast Breeding Reactor (PFBR)

Far removed from any protest-din, a nuclear power plant 40 km south of Chennai, is all set to achieving a milestone – loading of liquid sodium. The operators of the nuclear power station, which is half the size of the first unit of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant, are awaiting the green signal from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, the country’s nuclear power regulator.
For the 500 MW ‘prototype fast breeding reactor’, loading of 1,750 tonnes of the coolant liquid sodium is practically the last big event before the unit starts generating electricity.
This is an important milestone because nuclear establishments in all countries are watching India’s PFBR, the first plutonium-based fast breeder reactor anywhere in the world.
The Rs 5,677-crore techno-economic demonstration plant that a government of India-owned company is putting up is of crucial importance to the country’s nuclear plans. Its success would set the ball rolling for a clutch of ‘fast breeders reactors’—at least six of them have been planned. Two of the six would come right next door to the PFBR.
Fast breeder reactors are a big deal for Uranium-scarce India because they produce more nuclear fuel than they eat up. You blanket the ‘core’, where the fuel is simmering, with natural Uranium, the neutrons flying out of the core convert the Uranium into Plutonium – a valuable fuel.
You blanket it with Thorium, you end up with Uranium – 233, a variety of Uranium that has split-able atoms. (Heat is produced when the atoms’ nuclei are split by a runaway neutron, and the heat is converted into electricity.)
The PFBR will have a blanket of a mixture of natural Uranium and Thorium, so apart from electricity, you also get nuclear fuels.
Continue reading at The Hindu Business Line

Related: 500 MW Kalpakkam Reactor to Reach Criticality | The New Indian Express
Construction has resumed to develop the Fast Reactor Fuel Cycle Facility for recycling the fuel from PFBR, including fuel fabrication and assembly, reprocessing and waste management.
The FRFCF got the nod from Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board in February and construction of the facility is underway at a fast pace, says P R Vasudeva Rao, director of Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR), Kalpakkam.
Maintaining that the country has several nuclear reprocessing plants which supply fuel for thermal plants, he says this, however, would be the only facility that would reprocess fuel for fast breeder reactors on a large scale. According to Rao, initially tests were carried out on a pilot plant called CORAL (Compact Reprocessing of Advanced fuels in Lead shielded cells), formerly known as the Lead Mini Cell (LMC). “We learnt reprocessing of fuel catering to PFBR in the last 10 to 15 years,” he revealed. PFBR is also an important milestone for India’s three-stage nuclear power programme. The country has chosen the closed fuel cycle option in view of its phased expansion of nuclear power generation extending through the second and third stages, whereby full energy potential of uranium and thorium could be utilised.

No comments:

Post a Comment