Updated: July 23, 2020 5:27:27 am
Almost 25 years after the last unit was commissioned at Kakrapar Atomic Power Plant, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) has achieved criticality of a third unit of 700 MWe at the plant in Tapi district which is fully based on indigenous technology.
“The first two units at Kakrapar of 220 MWe (Megawatt electric) each were based on Canadian technology. The third unit is fully indigenous,” said an official from the power plant. The first Pressurised Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR) of 220 MWe was commissioned on May 6, 1993, while the second unit of similar capacity was commissioned on September 1, 1995.
Explained: The significance of Kakrapar-3
The third reactor at Kakrapar is the front runner in a series of 16 indigenous 700 MWe PHWRs which are under various stages of development. The third unit at Kakrapar achieved its first criticality at 9:36 am on Wednesday. Both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah tweeted congratulating the scientists for this feat.
“A reactor is said to be critical when the nuclear fuel inside a reactor sustains a fission chain reaction, where each fission event releases a sufficient number of neutrons to sustain a series of reactions. Criticality is first step towards power production. In the coming days, we will be testing various parameters and the power production will be slowly scaled up,” the official told The Indian Express.
NPCIL has termed the development “historic” as the components and equipment for the reactor were manufactured by Indian industries and the construction and erection was undertaken by various Indian contractors.
The work on third and fourth unit of 700 MWe each began in 2011, the official said. The fuel loading for the reactor core was completed by mid-March 2020. The indigenous 700 MWe PHWRs have advanced safety features like steel lined inner containment, passive decay heat removal system, containment spray system, hydrogen management system, among others.
NPCIL has seven more reactors under construction which includes a fourth unit of 700 MWe at Kakrapar. These reactors are expected to be completed and achieve criticality next year onwards.
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