Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor

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Recently, the Prime Minister of India witnessed the start of the process of core-loading the indigenous prototype fast breeder reactor (PFBR) at the Madras Atomic Power Station in Kalpakkam, Tamil Nadu.

About Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor

  • It is a machine that produces more nuclear fuel than it consumes.
  • Fuel: The Fast Breeder Reactor (FBR) will initially use the Uranium-Plutonium Mixed Oxide (MOX) fuel.
  • The Uranium-238 “blanket” surrounding the fuel core will undergo nuclear transmutation to produce more fuel, thus earning the name ‘Breeder’.
  • The use of Throium-232, which in itself is not a fissile material, as a blanket is also envisaged in this stage.
  • By transmutation, Thorium will create fissile Uranium-233 which will be used as fuel in the third stage.
  • Coolant: It uses liquid sodium, a highly reactive substance, as coolant in two circuits. Coolant in the first circuit enters the reactor and leaves with (heat) energy and radioactivity. Via heat-exchangers, it transfers only the heat to the coolant in a secondary circuit. The latter transfers the heat to generators to produce electricity.
  • It has been fully designed and constructed indigenously by Bhartiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Ltd (BHAVINI) with significant contribution from more than 200 Indian industries including MSMEs. 
  • In terms of safety, the PFBR is an advanced third generation reactor with inherent passive safety features ensuring a prompt and safe shut down of the plant in the event of an emergency. 
  • Significance:
    • Since it uses the spent fuel from the first stage, FBR also offers great advantage in terms of significant reduction in nuclear waste generated, thereby avoiding the need for large geological disposal facilities.
    • Once commissioned, India will only be the second country after Russia to have commercial operating Fast Breeder Reactor.
    • FBR is thus a stepping stone for the third stage of the program paving the way for the eventual full utilization of India’s abundant thorium reserves.

Q1) What is Nuclear fission?

It is the process of breaking large atomic nuclei into smaller atomic nuclei to release a large amount of energy. 

Source: Is India finally entering stage II of its nuclear programme? | Explained