Cabinet gives nod to setting up of 10 new indigenous nuclear reactors

Date: May 19, 2017

Pressurized Heavy Water Reactor Indigenous Technology U-238

Seeking to ramp up India's domestic nuclear power production, the Union cabinet on Wednesday cleared a proposal to indigenously build 10 atomic reactors, the largest ever approval granted for such facilities in one go.A proposal to construct 10 indigenous pressurized heavy water reactors with a total capacity of 7000MWe was cleared by the Union cabinet. The existing operational capacity in India is 6,780MW and a similar capacity will be set up by 2021-22

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Rationale behind the decision:
Our international collaborations for nuclear projects have faced trouble recently
The deal with US which involved setting up of six reactors in Andhra Pradesh has hit a rough patch after Westinghouse (US firm) filed for bankruptcy
The other deal which involved French firm Areva for setting up reactors in Jaitapur is still being negotiated due to differences over cost
On the positive side, the approval signifies the belief we have in the capability of India’s scientific community to build indigenous technological capabilities
India has achieved complete self-reliance in PHWR technology
Pressurized Heavy Water Reactor(PHWR):
A nuclear reactor that enriched natural uranium as its fuel and heavy water as coolant and moderator
Pressure allows the heavy water to be heated to higher temperature without boiling
Advantages of Pressurized Heavy Water Reactor(PHWR) technology:
Optimum utilization of the limited uranium resources
Higher Plutonium yield, for the second stage fuel
Availability of Indigenous Technology
Indian Nuclear Power Generation: A Three Stage Programme envisaged

Stage 1: Pressurised Heavy Water Reactor
Stage 2: Fast Breeder Reactor,
Pu-239 obtained from the first stage reactor operation will be used as the fuel core in fast breeder reactors (FBR)
A blanket of U-238 surrounding the fuel core will produce fresh Pu-239 as more and more Pu-239 is consumed
Besides a blanket of Th-232 around the FBR core undergoes neutron capture reactions which will lead to the formation of U-233
Stage 3: Breeder Reactor
Use U-233 as fuel which is obtained in the second stage
Besides, U-233 fueled breeder reactors will have a Th-232 blanket around the U-233 reactor core which will generate more U-233 as the reactor goes operational